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There are now a half dozen breweries in the Vail Valley, but only one has stamped its growlers and glasses with “Vail.” Vail Brewing Co. opened in early April, right in time for end-of-ski-season celebrations and the resort area’s bi-annual, off-season segment of “get out of town,” and “no work, just play.” Now firmly in spring, mountain biking and hiking trails are already drying up, so it’s the ideal time for city dwellers to head up the hill for some recreation and refreshment. And Vail Brewing Co. is just the place.
Location: This new mountain watering hole is not in the helm of the Vail Village tourist trap, but in Eagle-Vail, where many locals live. Known for too long as a lonely business strip on Highway 6, Eagle-Vail’s western edge is getting hopped up with the opening of this new brewery and tap room. The space shares a wall with the semi-new Native Roots (the closest dispensary to Vail proper), and is across the parking lot from CrossFit Vail.
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Brew Story: Vail Brewing Co. is independent and small with a 10-barrel system, and that’s how founders Garrett Scahill and Scott Harrison like it, at least for now. The partners have 17 years of combined experience studying, brewing, and sampling beer around the country and the world, and Scahill, the head brewer, has been making his own small batches since the 1990s. “We aren’t looking to grow as big as possible,” he says. “To start, we want to grow slowly and create small-batch beer that’s quality. We want to make the best beer we can can, and we we want people to come in and enjoy it.”
Ambience: The cozy and clean space is as rustic and streamlined as the inside of a wooden beer barrel. Garage doors open facing west, connecting visitors to a spacious outdoor seating area. This makes the brewery a great spot to frequent during summer sunsets.
On Tap: Scahill and Harrison explain that they abide by “Reinheitsgebot,” the German beer purity law, but what’s more obvious in their brews is an undercurrent of Colorado crispness. Vail Brewing Co. opened with seven original selections, and there’s more on the way. Standouts include the Hop Kush American Pale Ale—a single malt, single hop brew with notes of citrus, stone fruit, and pine—and the Porch Time Lime Wheat, which combines honey malt with lime zest for a satisfying taste of summer. Can’t decide what to try? You don’t have to. Order a flight and taste a few of the brewery’s blends.
Bites: Check out the Colorado Cheesesteak Company food truck, which parks outside the brewery on Thursdays (and hopefully more days in the future). Any other time you plan to visit, bring some food in tow. Eagle-Vail is still trying to soften its industrial edges, and the closest eatery, Route 6 Café, is a short bike or car ride to the east.
Visit: Vail Brewing Co. opens at noon every day, and the brews stay flowing until 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and until “closing” (usually around midnight) on Friday and Saturday. 41290 U.S. Hwy 6, Units B2-3, Vail; 970-470-4351; vailbrewingco.com