Like a lot of mediocre skiers, I’m more about the apres than the ski.
Oh, I enjoy tumbling down a mountain now and then. But what I really like is spending a snowy day sussing out little mountain towns and finding interesting places to explore, eat and drink. I’ve even been known to skip the skiing entirely.
On a recent trip to Colorado, some friends and I stayed in Dillon, a mountain town bisected by Interstate 70, where visitors can find reasonably affordable lodging with easy access to a variety of nearby ski resorts such as Keystone, Breckenridge and Vail.
I’ve stayed in Dillon before and enjoyed the two venerable brewpubs in town, Dillon Dam Brewing and Pug Ryan’s Brewery, both of which have been around since the 1990s.
But I hadn’t tried the two newer breweries in the adjacent town of Silverthorne, one of which opened just last year.
So this year, of course, I took a day off the slopes to conduct my own personal brew tour. I never hesitate to drink beer alone if I must, but one of my ski pals, who also had hoped to try the fare in Silverthorne, decided to forgo the slopes for a day and join me.
Another friend who chose to ski had the rental car, so we non-skiers took the free Summit County bus from our condo on Lake Dillon to the Silverthorne Transfer Center in the heart of town. It was an easy walk from there to both breweries.
The Baker’s Brewery opened in 2015. Like its name suggests, it features homemade bread as well as scratch-made entrees.
The site-brewed beer – a Barking Dog Brown Ale for me and a Sasquatch Scotch Ale for my pal – was fine. But the food was so good it actually overshadowed the ale.
We first indulged in the “onion ring tower” appetizer, a house specialty. The thick rings were hand-dipped in a beer batter with a marvelous “secret seasoning” that was savory with just a bit of spicy heat. The rings were served crunchy and hot, but with little trace of greasiness.
My main course was fish and chips, which, no, was not locally sourced. (The ocean was 1,000 miles away, after all.) But the waitress highly recommended it, and she knew what she was talking about. The hand-dipped fish was perfect, with a crunchy batter that held up to vinegar but didn’t obscure the taste of the white fish. And the blueberry tartar sauce was unique, made with whole berries and fruity but not too sweet.
My friend’s “hunter’s pie,” a shepherd’s pie made with seasoned ground elk, was excellent as well, he reported.
Beer was back on center stage at Angry James Brewing Company, which celebrated its first anniversary in January. The brewery has a self-serve food window with interesting entrees such as vegetarian sliders made with roasted beets and goat cheese. But after our amazing, and big, lunch at Baker’s, we decided to stick with beer.
Angry James’ “pints” are a full and honest 16 ounces. I decided, instead, to try a few different five-ounce pours. The pours are a bit bigger than what are offered in many “tasting flights,” but, at just $2 each, they were a fine way to thoroughly sample and enjoy a variety of good brews. I can vouch for the American Red Ale, Cash & Gems Pale Ale and the Alpen Weisse.
My friend approved of the Powder Stache Porter and Two Monks & a Gnome, a Belgian-style strong golden ale.
And, draining our final glasses, we both endorsed taking at least a day off the powder to spend on good suds and grub.
Steve Stephens can be reached at [email protected].