Home to some of the Centennial State’s longest-standing—and most innovative—craft breweries, northern Colorado is worth exploring, whether you’re a self-described beer lover or someone who just loves a good taproom ambiance. From funky spontaneous ferments to trusty lagers and dank IPAs, here are some of our favorite places to grab a beer north of Denver in Boulder, Longmont, Boulder, and beyond.

Funkwerks

Fort Collins

True NoCo beer lovers flock to Funkwerks for, as the name suggests, funkier “boutique” beers you don’t see every day. Since 2010, co-founders Gordon Schuck and Brad Lincoln have been brewing award-winning saisons and sours, but they’ve also expanded their repertoire to include a range of Belgian and American styles, plus small-batch, barrel-aged creations. Their lush patio, shaded by trees and brimming with greenery, is ideal for sipping a perfectly tart Raspberry Provincial or a refreshing Exiled King dry-hopped imperial saison on a hot summer day in Fort Collins. 1900 E Lincoln Ave, Unit B, Fort Collins

Verboten Brewing & Barrel Project

Loveland

Founded by Josh and Angie Grenz in 2013, Verboten is located right downtown, making the tasting room an ideal launching pad for shopping, people-watching, and soaking up Loveland’s robust art scene. In addition to a core group of beers that are always on tap, like the Think of Something Orange wheat beer and the Verboten Pilsner, the brewery regularly swaps out its 16-plus taps with festive seasonals, like Roll in Ze’ Watermelons (a fruited gose) or Angry Banjo (a historical Kentucky Common). They make delicious hard seltzers, too. 127 E. 5th St., Loveland

High Hops Brewery

Windsor

Located inside the Windsor Gardener, a lush plant shop, High Hops feels like a tropical departure from reality. Though you can’t take your beer with you while you shop (they’re technically two separate businesses, both owned by Pat and Amanda Weakland), your senses will still appreciate the close proximity of so much greenery: You can see and smell flowers and plants everywhere while you sip a Blueberry Wheat, a Dr. Pat’s Double IPA, or any number of rotating selections. High Hops’ expansive patio, brimming with colorful tables, chairs, and umbrellas and adjacent to rows of tall hop vines, is one of the best spots in NoCo to watch the sun set behind the foothills. If spirits and craft cocktails are more your thing, venture into the Heart Distillery—also owned by the Weaklands—in the very back of the building. 6461 CO-392, Windsor

Wild Provisions Beer Project

Boulder

A newcomer on the longstanding Boulder craft beer scene, Wild Provisions is a passion project for the team behind Broomfield’s popular 4 Noses Brewing Company. The new tasting room, located in an office park in East Boulder, is one of the most elegant around, with crisp, minimalist design elements like blonde wood paneling, dark grey walls, and a half-circle bar. Wild Provisions is where brewers can experiment with various Czech-style lagers and wild fermented beers like Verdant Hearth, a farmhouse saison matured in an American oak foeder (a large barrel) and bottle-conditioned with wildflower honey. The expansive patio, which often hosts food trucks, makes it easy to stick around for several pints. 2209 Central Ave., Boulder

Left Hand Brewing

Left Hand Brewing in Longmont. Photo courtesy of Left Hand

Longmont

It may be one of Colorado’s original craft breweries, but Left Hand is far from old and stale. On the contrary, the brewery continues to innovate and update its offerings, both in terms of beers and locations. The brewery is opening a RiNo spot sometime this summer, but (so far) the real gem is its new, colorful, thoughtfully designed beer garden, which opened next door to the Longmont tasting room and brewery last August. Grab a Flamingo Dream Nitro or a 1265 Pilsner from the shipping container bar, then post up on the sprawling artificial turf for corn hole, bocce ball, giant Jenga, live music, dancing, and people-watching. Left Hand has also added more patio seating to its OG, industrial-vibe tasting room, where you’ll find year-round, seasonal, and limited-release beers on tap. 1265 Boston Ave., Longmont

Odell Brewing Company

Fort Collins

When they opened Odell in 1989, husband-and-wife duo Doug and Wynne Odell, plus Doug’s sister Corkie, were embarking on a bold experiment at a time when there were less than 250 total breweries across the country. Flash-forward to today, and Odell continues to stand out in an increasingly crowded beer industry (at least count, there were 9,247 breweries in the U.S.). And when you taste brews like the refreshingly tart Sippin’ Pretty fruited sour and the complex Myrcenary double IPA, it’s easy to understand why. Beers aside, the vast, artfully designed patio attached to Odell’s Fort Collins tasting room alone is worth the trip up I-25. Also pop next door for a glass of sparkling pinot gris or rosé wine at the OBC Wine Project, which launched in 2020. 800 East Lincoln Ave., Fort Collins

WeldWerks Brewing

Greeley

Greeley may be the butt of many Coloradans’ jokes, but you’ll quickly set your preconceived notions of this college town aside when you make the trip up to WeldWerks. With the downtown brewery, co-founder Neil Fisher and head brewer Skip Schwartz have created a lively community gathering space with a dizzying (and seriously impressive) selection of rotating taps. In addition to the standard IPAs, pilsners, and wheat beers, WeldWerks caters specifically to adventurous drinks. Sample outside-the-box and whimsically named brews like the Watermelon Cotton Candy sour, the Smoke & Jalapeños smoke lager, or the It’s a Unicorn Thing double IPA, to name a few. Bartenders and customers alike are friendly, chatty, and serious about beer. WeldWerks also recently opened the Annex, an eatery at the tasting room helmed by chef Tim Meador. 508 8th Ave., Greeley

City Star Brewing

Berthoud

With food trucks, live music, a relaxing beer garden with a wall covered in hops, and a central location on Berthoud’s main street, City Star is a welcoming hub for Berthoud’s 8,500 tight-knit residents and visitors alike. Founded in 2012 by John and Whitney Way, the downtown brewery and taproom has grown and expanded over the years, but has managed to hold onto its small-town feel, too. That local vibe even extends to ingredients: City Star often partners with Root Shoot Malting, one of Colorado’s best craft maltsters, located just up the road in rural Loveland. Sip classics like Bandit Brown or Night Watchman, or try some of their fruitier, funkier brews, like Berthoud Barb or Squeeze. 321 Mountain Ave., Berthoud

Primitive Beer

Longmont

Liquid offerings from Primitive Beer. Photo courtesy of Primitive Beer

With a deep appreciation for and understanding of historical beer traditions, Brandon and Lisa Boldt have garnered a cult-like following among serious beer-drinkers from around the country with Primitive. But even casual sippers will appreciate learning about the intriguing science behind their brews: Primitive makes 100 percent spontaneously fermented beers, meaning that they’re inoculated with whatever yeast and bacteria floats in off the breeze. This centuries-old Belgian technique makes every single batch different, which the Boldts then expertly age, blend, and otherwise shape into well-balanced, tart-and-funky beers. They also have a curated selection of guest beers on tap in their airy, no-frills taproom, located in Longmont’s quirky Prospect neighborhood. 2025 Ionosphere St., Longmont

Sanitas Brewing Company

Boulder

Nestled in an industrial area east of downtown Boulder, Sanitas has bright, airy vibes, thanks to the window garage doors that open onto the patio, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a peek into the brewing and packaging area. But as nice as Sanitas’ taproom is, the brewery’s expansive patio is what really shines. It’s adjacent to railroad tracks and Sanitas makes up for it by offering $2.50 drafts whenever a train thunders by. Plus, the patio is sun-dappled and relaxing, with easy access to the permanent McDevitt Taco Supply cart that lives on the brewery’s grounds. Sanitas also has “The Nest,” a repurposed boxcar where guests can grab beers and gelato. Sip a Passionfruit Sour or a Bandito Mexican lager while you enjoy mountain views, yard games, and ample room to spread out. 3550 Frontier Ave. Unit A, Boulder

Collision Brewing Company

Longmont

Tucked away in an industrial neighborhood in far-east Longmont, Collision is a fun, car-themed brewpub with some seriously friendly folks behind the bar (you’re likely to find members of the Blythe family, which also owns Nicolos Pizza Longmont, cheerily pouring beers and chatting with regulars). The space is large, open, and bathed in natural light, with vintage car parts and other colorful decor dotting the walls. Outside, the main dining area opens up onto a spacious, west-facing patio that’s perfect for watching the sun drop behind Longs Peak. And if cheekily named beers like Blinker Fluid (a kolsch) or Fender Bender (a summer wheat) aren’t quite your thing, there’s a full bar and kitchen here, too. 1436 Skyway Dr. Longmont

New Belgium Brewing

Fort Collins

Outside at New Belgium Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of New Belgium Brewing Company

No visit to Fort Collins is complete without a stop at New Belgium, which co-founders Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch dreamed up on a late 1980s bike trip through the country of the same name. In 1991, long before “craft beer” became a household name in the Centennial State, New Belgium began making small-batch, Belgian-style beers. They’ve since vastly diversified their brews, making everything from a mimosa sour ale to hazy imperial IPAs to hard seltzers. The lush, manicured lawn in front of the Fort Collins tasting room is perfect for picnicking, playing yard games, doing yoga, or just quenching your thirst after a bike ride. 500 Linden St., Fort Collins

MainStage Brewing Company

Lyons

Outside at MainStage Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of MainStage Brewing Company.

Founded by industry veterans Sam Scruby and Eric Kean in the spring of 2021, MainStage is already making a name for itself in the Front Range brewing scene. Located just down the road from the famed Planet Bluegrass, which hosts the beloved RockyGrass festival every year, MainStage is a welcome addition to Lyons’ already-robust music scene, with Thursday night bluegrass jam sessions and a packed lineup of live performances held on its spacious patio. On tap, you’ll find MainStage beers, collaboration brews, and sips from dozens of well-respected breweries, like Westbound & Down, Fritz Family Brewers, and Call to Arms. 450 Main St. Lyons

Fritz Family Brewers

Niwot

This buzzy new brewery opened in Niwot (in a space long occupied by now-shuttered Bootstrap Brewing Company) in the summer of 2021. As the name suggests, beer is a family affair for Fritz Family Brewers owners Cory and Kelly Buenning, who named their new Boulder County establishment after their son. Cory Buenning is a 20-year craft brewing vet, with spots like Tommyknocker Brewery and Snake River Brewing on his resume. Now that he’s running his own show, Buenning expertly creates various lagers and ales that are perfect for sipping on their relaxing back patio or in their bright, newly renovated tasting room. 6778 N. 79th St., Niwot

Oskar Blues Tasty Weasel

Longmont

Though Oskar Blues first launched in Lyons in 1997 (and there’s still a brewery and restaurant you can visit there), today, the company’s main brewery and tasting room, the Tasty Weasel, sits on a shady, tree-lined street in south Longmont. The Weasel is everything you want a brewery to be: industrial with tall ceilings, tons of seating, neon signs, stickers covering the walls, window-paneled garage doors that open onto a deck, and views of brewery operations. Sure, you can find a ton of Oskar Blues brews at the liquor store, but true fans come to the Weasel to try fun, experimental, limited-release beers and hard seltzer flavors on tap, like the Sauterne Sherry Sour, a fruited sour aged for 30 months. 1800 Pike Rd., Unit B, Longmont

Horse & Dragon Brewing Company

Fort Collins

Horse & Dragon may be small, but it’s well worth your time to stop in for a pint during your next trip to Fort Collins. Founded by Tim and Carol Cochran in 2014, Horse & Dragon makes adventurous beers ranging from the Silver Lion Czech-style pilsner to the Coastal Kveik dry-hopped Kveik ale. The brewery often hosts live music and community events at its bike-friendly tasting room, which is decked out in colorful memorabilia, posters, and plants (there’s even a bike hanging from the exposed ceiling trusses). The folks behind Horse & Dragon really care—about beer, about wildlife and the environment, about their employees, and about supporting important causes, near and far, so you can feel good about your decision to order another pint. The company made the “Crafted for All” commitment to help promote diversity and eliminate bias in the beer industry, regularly hosts fundraisers and participates in community events, and is involved in a number of sustainability initiatives. 124 Racquette Dr., Fort Collins

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