A walk down Longmont’s Main Street on any given weekend evening proves there’s a lot going on in that three block stretch of highway. Galleries, a used bookstore, game shop, guitars, antiques, and good food bring people out in droves. On a recent unseasonably balmy winter evening, the Pumphouse Brewery on the north end of the pedestrian-friendly commercial stretch from 3rd and 6th avenues was its usual, hoppin’ self.
The high ceilings of this old, converted car dealership tend to swallow the usual din from the patrons, making conversations easy. The warm temperatures had coaxed out a strong crowd about evenly split between those eating and chatting and those glued to their team on one of the 15 flat-screen TVs at The Red Zone’s (the Pumphouse’s 8,000-square-foot adjoining sports bar). My friend Jon likes the energy at the bar, so we staked out the only open real estate at the end near the quiz game.
As with any good brewpub, you come for the beer and stay for the food; and that’s true in spades at the Pumphouse. Jon tucked into a pint of 4-Alarm Copper Ale that won Head Brewer David Mentus a silver medal at the ’05 Great American Beer Festival. I opted for a powerfully flavorful Backdraft Imperial Stout. The Wildfire Wheat, Red Alert and the other half dozen beers on tap can satisfy the taste for any beer aficionado.
Jon and I aren’t strangers here, but it would be a stretch to call us regulars; no one knows our names. But having become familiar with most offerings on the varied menu of delicious offerings, Jon went old school with a burger while I decided to give the seared Ahi tuna salad a spin.
Making a decent hamburger isn’t rocket science, but the Pumphouse stacks the undealt deck by starting off with all-natural Angus beef. Jon went with my favorite: the Backyard (a kind of ground beef steak au poivre). It hits the grill coated in coarse-ground pepper and is finished with melted Swiss cheese, sautéed onions and a Worcestershire glaze that goes to 11. And the tuna was perfect in every respect.
On this night, the weather wasn’t warm enough to warrant rolling up the floor-to-ceiling garage door that opens out to a patio that doubles capacity.
But around the end of February, when the mercury pops 70, an anxious hatch of hibernating barflies erupts on the town and covers the patio in evening happy-hour glory. Convertibles lose their tops, pants become shorts, jackets are traded for T-shirts and the sleepy patio of the Pumphouse gets its groove on. And once the seal of summer is broken, the Pumphouse returns as Longmont’s Main Event.
We cast aside these thoughts and head upstairs to one of two balconies with some pool. This arrangement is great for players who don’t want the hassle of preoccupied patrons crowding their shots and you can’t beat the bird’s-eye view.
So while the Pumphouse Brewery’s TVs and pool tables might qualify it as a sport bar, the beer is great and the food satisfying. And you couldn’t ask for better from the north end anchor of Main Street.