Drinking alfresco


As our long, cold, gray winter finally — finally — gives way to the spring bloom and the promise of a warm summer, it’s time to partake in one of Colorado’s greatest pleasures: drinking alfresco.

Granted, this is something most hardy Coloradans do 365, but in the summertime, when the weather is hot, and sunshine dapples through mesh awnings and tree canopies, when sunsets turn a simple orange into an array of ombre, drinking on a patio is a pleasure that can’t be beat.

And that pleasure got a considerable upgrade during the pandemic. Thanks to inside capacity constrictions, many restaurants, bars and breweries all over the state moved outdoors. Some were already prepped — Left Hand Brewing Company had been working on their outdoor space since 2019 — while others, like Twisted Pine Brewing Company, used the pandemic as the perfect time to modernize their existing structures while converting nearby parking spaces into a beer garden. That means pretty much any brewery you visit these days will have some sort of patio for you to drink, dine and relax, but here are a couple of must-dos across the county where you simply must take it outside.


Avery Brewing Company
4910 Nautilus Court North

Avery Brewing

The patio at Avery is massive. There are tables to eat at, chairs to lounge in and a large green space for kids and four-legged friends to run around. And good beer is only a step away: 20-plus brews, some of them rarities from days gone by, some of them pilots for future rollouts, and all the Avery staples. You could get pretty in the weeds here — just make sure you save room for Island Rascal. Old-timers might recognize this Belgian-style wheat ale infused with passion fruit under its previous moniker, Liliko’i Kepolo, but a rose by any other name will still deliver a burst of refreshing carbonation, tongue-tickling tartness and tropical flavors. It’s the perfect beer for when the sun is high in the sky, a soft breeze rustles the leaves, and you aren’t concerned about anything beyond this moment.

Three more to try:

Twisted Pine Brewing Company doesn’t just have the patio for you; they have the beer, too: Patio Pounder, a session IPA with a low ABV and a jam-packed hop profile. At Sanitas Brewing Co., you can drink next to the train tracks, and though they’re not a brewery, the West End Tavern serves plenty of local brew on their outstanding rooftop patio. It’s a treat.

Left Hand Brewing Company


Left Hand Brewing Company
1265 Boston Ave.

If you’ve been to Left Hand Brewing Company, you probably know about the lovely patio out front. If you haven’t been in a while, then you may not know that Left Hand opened a massive beer garden next door, perfect for drinking in the sunshine, live music and playing with dogs. They’re open most Thursdays through Sundays, depending on the weather, and have food trucks on-site and a mobile tap room. Start with the crushable 1265 Pilsner, and go from there.

Four others to try:

Main Street’s Pumphouse Brewery sports an adjacent sports bar, the Red Zone, and a large patio perfect for people watching on weekends with a pint of Red Alert Amber. The high planters on Wibby Brewing’s patio will make you forget you’re sitting atop the bones of the long-gone Butterball plant — the Volksbier Vienna is spectacular — and nearby 300 Suns Brewing has a Salted Toffee Imperial Brown Ale on tap, and the one of the best hot chicken sandwiches around. Down in Longmont’s Prospect New Town, Primitive Beer has a small outdoor space and a couple of picnic tables overlooking the park to enjoy all those wild and funky ales. Buy a bottle of something sparkling and enjoy the day.

Westbound & Down Mill


Westbound & Down Mill
2755 Dagny Way, #101

You’ve got to go to Westbound & Down and enjoy some pizza. It doesn’t matter if you live across Baseline or across the county; it’s worth the drive. Try the 95th Street pizza with a starter of burrata and wash it down with any number of Westbound’s award-winning beers. The Coloradan Mexican Lager isn’t just crisp and clean with a snappy hop profile; chef Casey Taylor uses it in the pizza dough. 

Two others to try:

If you’re getting tired of all this lager talk — this is a summer drinking guide, after all — head over to Cellar West Artisan Ales for something funky, fruity and wild. Perhaps a bottle of Farmhouse Saison? Or maybe apples are your thing. In that case, head up to Acreage by Stem Ciders for some of the best views in Boulder County.

Crystal Springs Brewing


Crystal Springs Brewing Co.
604 Main St.

Crystal Springs sports two locations in Louisville, but only one has the most darling beer garden around. It’s small-town charm inside, backyard vibes outside, and both go beautifully with the tangy, tart fruit and grainy body of Blood Orange Kölsch.

Two others to try:

Not too far down Main Street from Crystal Springs is 12Degree Brewing, purveyors of Belgian-inspired ales, and worth it for the frites and Midnight Fog alone. On the other side of the tracks is Gravity Brewing, and out back, you’ll find picnic tables, planters growing vegetables and a little seclusion.


MainStage Brewing Company
450 Main St.

For years there was only one brewery in this mountain town. Then in 2021, MainStage came on the scene. Maybe the size of its outdoor space was motivated by COVID-19 constrictions, or maybe it was built to soak up Colorado’s outdoor splendor and provide a killer stage for up-and-coming musicians. Either way, this is a stellar place to spend an afternoon.

That other one to try:

Across the street is the brewery that made Lyons famous, Oskar Blues Grill & Brew. Truth be told, their indoor dining space is where you want to go. But you can certainly enjoy G’Knight Imperial Red Ale on the patio. Beer this good can be enjoyed anywhere.


Busey Brews
70 E. First St.

This one’s almost too easy: It backs up to the river, for crying out loud. Currently, the patio is under renovation, but construction should be complete by mid-summer. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy those long, hot Colorado days with a Tropical Stay-Cation juicy IPA at 8,000 feet.

Two others to try:

Located in a strip mall, Very Nice Brewing Company doesn’t have an expansive patio but does have some very nice beers — give the Monk’s Phunk Belgian-style ale brewed with honey a quaff. Knotted Root Brewing Company has scenic views (who doesn’t have scenic views around here?) and plenty of irreverent brews. Thick Strawberry Goo, anyone?

Fritz Family Brewers


Fritz Family Brewers
6778 N. 79th St.

Niwot hasn’t had much luck holding on to breweries. Fritz Family Brewers, established in 2021, hopes to change that. And with beautiful digs, it just might. Though the interior is warm and inviting, stop here after the sun goes down for stargazing and a lovely glass of helles.

Echo Brewery and Pizzeria


Echo Brewery and Pizzeria
600 Briggs St.

If you thought we’d overlook Erie, think again. Echo has one of the best patios in the county, hands down. It’s large; it’s on Erie’s main drag, yet it’s secluded enough that the cars don’t feel on top of you. And Echo’s indoor/outdoor space makes it all flow even better. Plus, they have TVs, so if you plan on watching the Nuggets play deep into June, then Echo — with a cold pint of Two Pup Pale Ale — might be the place for you.

The other one to try:

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention The Industrial Revolution Brewing Company, 285 Cheesman St. It has that same homey charm you’ll find at Crystal Springs. If you’ve ever been drinking in the small neighborhood pubs dotting the London suburbs, then The Industrial Revolution Brewing Company will bring back some mighty fine memories. 

Michael J. Casey is the author of Boulder County Beer, a refreshing history of how a collection of young entrepreneurs turned the cities of Boulder, Longmont, Lyons and beyond into ground zero for craft beer in the Centennial State.

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