Boulder County is ready.
The second month of the year is still darker and colder than we’d like. Unless you’re planning to hit the slopes or strap on a pair of snowshoes in Rocky Mountain National Park, storms that would have seemed cozy in December now seems like an aggravation that requires us to navigate icy roads and pull the snow blower out one more time.
But there’s a bright spot. February is stout month.
The delicious tradition was established by Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery in 1994 and it’s an anticipated high spot during a slower part of the year. It also honors the creativity and deliciousness inherent in darker, maltier beers that take center stage during winter.
Over the years, Mountain Sun menu of beers has remained incredibly extensive and probably one of the best showcases you’ll find for carefully crafted stouts. When kegs run dry they’re replaced with something equally interesting. We’re talking thin mint stout, chai stout, Belgian stouts, hoppy stouts, pastry stouts, coffee stouts and maybe even a white stout.
True stout lovers go multiple times and you should too. At the same time, other taprooms in the area will also be showcasing their darker labors of love. Try them as well. We’ve got a list of highlights below.
Left Hand Brewing
This brewery showcases a lot of stouts, and while their February lineup wasn’t available at press time, there are plenty of standard options available every winter that are worth trying. Of course, their Milk Stout Nitro is a nationally distributed classic with peanut butter and other versions. But we will always have a soft spot for their Wake Up Dead Russian Imperial Stout, which was our introduction to the high ABV, sweet but not too sweet style that will knock you off your barstool in short order.
Outworld brewing on Hwy 119 is a unique sci-fi fantasy themed restaurant with a brewer that knows how to brew a dark beer. Their Midnight Robber is a Caribbean rum barrel aged export stout with flavors of coffee, chocolate and dried fruit. They’ve also got a follow up to their previously brewed Black is Beautiful Brew, originally created as a benefit beer in June, 2020 to call attention to injustices faced by people of color. This newly crafted beer is an Imperial Milk Stout with an ABV of 9%. It’s chocolate notes are also flavored with cinnamon and guajillo chilis for a spicy hit of deliciousness.
If you’re looking to try an Irish Stout that’s not Guinnes, head to Collision Brewing, located just up the road from Outworld. This dry stout is well made and classic, with notes from darker malts and a fuller body showing through. At 7.1 percent ABV, its not the smallest stout you can order, but it also isn’t the largest.
Finkel and Garf
Located in Niwot on Lookout Road, the team at Finkel and Garf don’t hesitate to show off their brewing chops by competently crafting beers in a range of styles. No surprise – they’re proficient at making a stout as anyone. Their tasty milk stout is one to try, but they also do imperial stouts and pastry stouts. We don’t know what specialties they’ll have brewing for February, but we’ll be sure to stop by and see.
Westbound and Down Mill
Lots of people seek out Westbound and Down for their stouts. Originally in Idaho Springs, when they moved to 95th and Arapahoe in Lafayette, that meant that people in our area didn’t have to go far to access them. Their oatmeal stout is a classic, and their imperial stout is a classic example of their style. In Lafayette, diners can also order a handcrafted, wood fired pizza that pairs well with the malt and hops in their glass.
In this case, we’ve saved some of the biggest options for last. And by biggest we mean biggest ABV. Beloved for decades, there was a time when the eye-popping ABV levels of Gunbarrel-based Avery stouts and imperial stouts led the way in creating larger beers than anyone thought. If you want to expand your stout experience this February, don’t dismiss old guard options like Uncle Jacobs stout, Rumpkin Night Watchman and more.