Backcountry Brewery

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Just east of Denver along I-70 in a sleepy bedroom community for the slopes of Summit County lies a pleasant surprise, Backcountry Brewery. The beautiful two-story wooden structure looks as impressive as its mountainous surroundings. Architecturally, the expansive glass windows invite plenty of sunlight and offer great views of the valley. The downstairs bar and lounge area can get a bit smoky while upstairs offers a hidden kitchen, another bar, clean air and a more relaxed setting. Toward the left of the one large room stands the U-shaped wooden bar, its rugged appearance complimented by the cushioned "carved" wooden chairs. Tall tables and stools along the numerous windows give customers more to look at than the silent TV overhead. Two pooltables stand alongside four of the brewhouse's shiny stainless steel unitank fermenters. Unfinished two-by-sixes span the ceiling overhead, surrounded by unattractive conduit and ducting. Where the ground floor offers an interactive skateboard video game, upstairs touts its views of the polished stainless steel brewhouse along with outdoor panoramas that include the waters of nearby Dillon Dam. Aestically pleasing, the interior's lacquered wood tables and padded chairs go well with the dark carpet and wooded floors. With light, commercial-free music throughout, the overall atmosphere is relaxed and accommodating. When the weather is agreeable the two stories of patios are popular hangouts.

An eight-glass sampler offers the perfect way to experience each and every brew but takes some time to complete. The Ptarmigan Pilsner, 5.3%, is a clear gold color, well carbonated, its light malty flavor is augmented by mellow hops. The Telemark IPA, at 6%, is a clear gold with a hoppy aroma, medium body and strong bitter flavor and aftertaste. The Switchback Amber, 5.4%, has a light malty flavor with a detracting sour character. The Expedition ESB, 5.3%, is a dark gold color with a full body and slightly sour, malty flavor. The Peak One Porter, 6%, is a clear dark amber with a sweet, caramel/malty flavor, medium body and dry finish. The Breakfast Coffee Stout appears filtered and offers an intense coffee aroma and flavor along with a full mouthfeel and big body. The Oktoberfest Lager is a clear amber with a slightly "sour" aroma, medium body, malty sweet flavor and short finish. Another regular usually available is the Fall Line Blackberry Brown Ale. Prices are a reasonable $3 for a 22 ounce "pint", $1 per five ounce sample and $23.50 for a party pig. A happy hour Fridays offers $2 pints from 4 to 7 p.m. and $8 pitchers 10 to 12 p.m.

Common pub fare is featured with Backcountry Grill entrées in addition to Bratwurst, Burgers and Sandwiches. Munchies run $5 to $16 with a sampler available for $16. California wines and a full liquor selection complement the menu. Doors open at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday. While the air hockey and video games tend to attract the younger generation of chain smokers, there is plenty of room upstairs to enjoy the food, beers and mountain vistas of Summit County within the confines of Backcountry Brewery. The modern layout is also fairly "wheelchair friendly." Be sure to rent your ski condo close by on your next visit.

Photos by Tom Ciccateri

Backcountry Brewery
Main St. & Hwy 9
Frisco, CO
(970)668-2337

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - October, 1998


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