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photo courtesy of The BARley

Craft Beer Comes to Steamboat

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You can’t throw a Stetson without hitting a tap handle in Steamboat, but a new watering hole called The BARley brings something brand-new to this Pabst-swilling town: Craft beers. Lots of them.

Thirty taps pour the likes of Funkwerks and Green Flash (28 handles are dedicated to Colorado brews, while two “tourist” taps represent the rest of the nation). And while 30 kegs might not impress folks accustomed to the 75-plus options at Denver’s Falling Rock Tap House, it’s a windfall for a town where Budweiser dominates the drink lists and Fat Tire qualifies as a microbrew.

Coors also appears on The BARley’s menu, which seems fitting given Steamboat’s unpretentious character. But the three-week-old bar ventures well beyond such crowd-pleasers. A fan of sour beers, I was thrilled to be able to order a Crooked Stave Vieille Artisanal Saison. The BARley is also the first bar in Colorado to experiment with the Randall (aka the “enamel animal”), a filter created by Dogfish Head Brewery that adds flavor enhancers to the bartender’s tap of choice (last week, The BARley spiked Butcherknife Brewing’s Hefeweizen with fresh orange peel).

Cocktails and wine broaden The BARley’s appeal—which, judging by the crowd there last Friday night, includes most of Steamboat. Located in the heart of downtown, on the lower level of the shopping plaza at Seventh and Lincoln, the place was jammed with young professionals and manicured moms enjoying girls’ night out. So thick were the drinkers that I failed to appreciate how the top of the 24-foot bar features wood from a single beetle-kill pine tree, while barrel staves decorate the sides.

Instead, I occupied one of the outdoor tables parked just beyond The BARley’s thrown-open doors. I munched a gyro (The BARley lets patrons import eats from neighboring establishments, which include a Greek restaurant, a Vietnamese-sushi joint, and a hot dog stand) and savored how pleasant it is to sip a world-class beer beneath a starry night sky.

635 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs

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