Microbrewers and distillers bring great beverage culture to Pueblo.
Across the nation, big-name brands are getting a run for their money from microbreweries and distilleries producing high quality product in lesser volume. Sure, you can still pick up a Coors or Bud Light in most Pueblo restaurants or order yourself a Jack and Coke, but the options for buying local when it comes to good beer and spirits have greatly improved.
Grab a Brew
Colorado came early to the scene when it comes to microbreweries, and Pueblo has developed some serious chops. The downtown now offers three flourishing microbreweries.
One of the exciting developments is the return of Walter’s Beer to the area. Walter’s Beer, says company president Andy Sanchez, has traditionally been produced by the Walters family of Wisconsin since the late 19th century. Martin Walter opened a sister brewery in Pueblo in the 1890s, where it manufactured until 1975, when the facility was bought and closed.
For a decade, Sanchez and his partners have worked with the family to bring the beer back. In May of 2014, they opened their microbrewery and taproom in a century-old traditional beer depot, home to St. Louis based W.J. Lemps product, then Schlitz, Coors and Miller over the decades.
“I think this is a good time for brewing in Pueblo,â€ Sanchez says. “I think we’re producing a great German pilsner, and the history of the family and this beer is a great story.â€
Currently, there are five beers on tap to try.
Shamrock Brewing Company can claim to have been the first contemporary microbrewery in Pueblo, located downtown in a mercantile building dating to the early 20th century. Shamrock offers up Irish pub–style food and craft beer in a variety of styles good enough to win medals at the Colorado State Fair for excellence three years running.
Meanwhile, the Garcia family has purchased the old police building from the city and turned it into a microbrewery and gastropub, and incidentally a terrific music venue at Brues Alehouse. Tony Garcia started home brewing as a college economics major and went on to brewing school in Chicago, then Germany. At the new business, they’re making everything from German lagers to IPA styles, he says.
“I think we have a very artistic mentality toward everything: beer, music, food,â€ Garcia says. “There’s a lot of craft beer interest [in Pueblo right now], and there are a lot of underground ‘beer heads.’ People in the area are really excited to try new things.â€
For lovers of spirits, there’s more than one interesting development from Pueblo natives, though there isn’t a proper distillery open in the city yet. Local radiologist Dr. Brian Nolt owns and operates Breckenridge Distillery in Breckenridge (with products available in most Pueblo liquor retailers and some restaurants) with the aid of master distiller Jordan Via. They’re producing an outstanding bourbon whiskey in the Kentucky and Tennessee style, vodka, and handmade bitters, among other products.
Meanwhile, Pueblo native Mark Mihelich began producing his ForeCastle rum in the Denver area in 2013. ForeCastle has made a name for itself particularly with its mint mojito rum (you can’t go wrong with a mojito) and a Roasted Red Chili rum that’s already taken a few medals for its quality and is made with chiles from Musso Farms in Pueblo, another distinctive local tie-in.
“I think this is a good time for brewing in Pueblo. I think we’re producing a great German pilsner, and the history of the family and this beer is a great story.”