If you want to combine great music and great beer, visit the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival (Sept. 16–18). Grab your Beer Drinker’s Guide and hit the road, zooming south on I-25 and taking the U.S. 160 route west to Durango. Fight the urge to stop in at Ska, Carver, Steamworks or Durango breweries; book a room for Sunday night at the massively cool, comfortable and historic General Palmer Hotel in downtown, steps from the breweries. You can crash there after the festival and spend Monday recovering with a progressive pint program at the aforementioned pubs.
Swing north on Hwy. 550 and stop in Silverton at the brewery there. Then drop down the road to Ouray and grab a pint of whatever is on tap at the Ourayle House on 7th Avenue. They only brew a barrel of beer at a time and who knows how that will turn out. But you gotta love the spirit and spontaneity of the enterprise. For a more traditional pint, and a menu full of good eats, head to the Ouray Brewery at 607 Main St. for a refreshing kolsch or crisp, dry Cascade Creek Rye Ale.
Then head down to the award-winning Colorado Boy Pub and Brewery in “downtown” Ridgeway. Not only will they teach you how to build your own brewery (as they did for Ouray Brewing), but they make stellar beer. The last stop is at the Smuggler’s Brewpub and Grille on Pine Street. The award-winning beers and solid pub fare are a treat after a long day. But take a break from the fermented beverages and sink a sweet tooth into Smuggler’s divine root beer or cream soda. The lineup for this year’s festival is off the charts: Willie Nelson, The Flaming Lips, moe., Dweezle Zappa plays Zappa and Louisville’s Lionel Young Band. If you don’t have your tickets by June, you’ll be missing the festival of the year.