Behind the Brew: Bristol Brewing Company

Bristol Brewing, located in the recently revamped Ivywild School, offers classic craft beers in a relaxed atmosphere. 

December 18 2015, 2:18 PM

—Courtesy of Bristol Brewing

Bristol Brewing Company

Specialty: Classic craft beers

Neighborhood: The Ivywild neighborhood in Colorado Springs 

Humble Beginnings: In the early 1990s, Mike and Amanda Bristol’s young careers were on the fast track. He was a district manager for Nissan, and she was a creative director at an advertising firm in Florida. But both of them craved something different. So they moved back to Colorado where Mike was from, and opened Bristol Brewing in an industrial park in Colorado Springs in 1994.

“Mike was a longtime home brewer who wanted to make beers, even though he had no formal training,” says Matt Ward, Bristol’s beer “marketeer.” “The first location was tiny, and the tasting room was the size of a closet, but they kept at it, and it turns out he had a talent for crafting beer.” Twenty-one years later, Bristol brews 13,000 barrels of beer annually in a variety of styles.   

Fun Fact: The current brewery is housed inside the renovated, century-old Ivywild School building, just up the street from their old facility on Tejon Street. During the building’s remodel, Bristol, along with other partners, kept as much of the old school’s fixtures as possible, leaving chalkboards, artwork, and desks behind. Besides the brewery, several other businesses share the space: There’s The Principal’s Office, which is a coffee shop during the day and bar at night, The Meat Locker deli, Old School Bakery, Fennel Group architectural design studio, and more.

Don’t Miss: Bristol’s single-hop series is only available in the taproom and allows the brewers to experiment with different iterations of the same beer, using only one hop variety. It highlights the complexities and differences that each style of hops are able to impart on a single brew. You never know what they will have on tap, but the chance to sample a single hop brew next to a blend is eye-opening.  

What to Expect: Bristol is a community brewery with a fiercely loyal following. Bellied up to their wrap-around bar, you’re likely to find bearded millennials and retirees out for a quick sip. At the large community tables, you may spot young families enjoying a brew while their children explore the building. Off to one side, glass wall separates the bar from the brewing and packaging operation.

With thirteen beers on tap, the selection should please any visitor. There are even two Nitro taps, and the odd firkin. The shuffleboard table usually attracts a crowd, as does the patio space warmer days. Bristol also offers a full menu of pub favorites, such as burgers, appetizers, mac and cheese. Beer snobs and beginners alike will be drawn to the relaxed vibe and intriguing location.

Make a Night of It: A visit to the Ivywild is a must for anyone passing through the Springs. You can browse the boutique stores, grab a pint at Bristol, and grab dinner at The Teachers Lounge. You can even catch a concert inside the gym.

 Visit: Bristol Brewing Company is located at 1604 S. Cascade Ave, Colorado Springs; 719-633-2555