The Brewery: Echo Brewing Company

5969 Iris Parkway, Frederick

Opened: 2012

The People: Founders, head brewers, and brothers Dennis and Daniel Richards

The Space: Tucked away in a small strip mall in the quaint town of Frederick, Echo Brewing Company has an inviting, home-away-from-home vibe. The drive is only about 40 minutes from Denver, short enough to make during a weekday. Saddle up to one of the 10-or-so spots at the bar to get a view of their brew room—brightly lit and visible through two large picture windows to the left of the counter. Or, if you have a few friends in tow, the open taproom has multiple roundtables and a small lounge area with couches nestled in the far corner. The hangout’s west-facing patio is dog-friendly and offers magnificent views of the mountains across the plains. It’s unheated, though, so it’s best to hang indoors during colder months.

The Brews: Echo typically has about a dozen original brews on tap. From Kölsches to brown ales to stouts, each brew stays true to its style, but Echo likes to add a pinch of flair to its flavors. Many of the darker brews are accented with palpable nutty and roasted finishes or unexpected (but welcomed) dryness. Lighter beers pack a lot of hops and bitter zest, but mellow out for a smooth finish. Considering Echo’s vast offerings, beer lovers of all varieties are sure to find a new favorite.

Buzzed Trivia: Echo is a family-run business, and the Richards brothers are actually twins. They hint at this fun fact with names like “Mirror Image IPA” and “Echo.”

Sample This: The Powder Run Pale Ale, if it’s on tap (it’s not available year-round). Echo’s black double IPA, Nocturnal, is dark and malty, with a moderate hoppy flavor. Take your time: It’s heavier texture (the brew is thicker than Echo’s C.V. Milk Stout) and 9.5% ABV will knock you on your rear. For something lighter, don’t pass up the Razz Raspberry Wheat, a lightly flavored and refreshing brew that rings in at just 5.3% ABV—so you don’t have to stop at just one pint.

Take Home: Grab a growler of the Balefire Irish Red. Though it’s certainly malty and bold, it’s not overbearing. With its unique, roasted finish and high drinkability factor, the Balefire is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. It’s $5 for a glass growler and $10 to $15 to fill, depending on your poison of choice. Look for canned six-packs of Balefire in liquor stores soon (available early 2015).

Tips: Hit up Echo on a Tuesday night. Trivia starts at 7 p.m. Your brain-food will be fueled by Chaulkboard Gourmet Express, a food truck owned and operated by a gourmet chef who serves high-quality versions of hand-held favorites (Philly cheese steaks, sliders, sloppy Joes, Ravioli grinders). We split an order of the Chicken Street Tacos (entirely gluten-free!) and grabbed a couple of grilled hot dogs for our pooch. All parties agreed we’d be back for a fix next Tuesday.

Bonus: Echo opened another location in 2013 in Erie’s old fire station. This taproom houses a full pizzeria and a beverage menu that includes some extras like an extended beer list, plus wine and hard ciders. The Nutella Dessert Pizza and Wild Hard Pumpkin Cider are certainly worth the drive, but keep in mind—growlers are available exclusively at the Frederick location.

Visit their website (updated weekly) to see which brews are currently on tap.