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Ska Street Brewstillery had just begun its very first dinner service in Boulder on March 16 when Gov. Jared Polis announced statewide dine-in restaurant closures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Even though the new restaurant and bar had only been open for one hour and 11 minutes, the staff watching the governor’s press conference knew they had to turn off the taps.
“We decided, ‘Let’s close it up,’” says Dave Thibodeau, Ska Street’s co-founder. “We really had spent all of our money at that point. We didn’t even want to try doing takeout or delivery because we had just previously spent two weeks training new staff.”
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The brewstillery, a unification of Ska Brewing Company in Durango and Peach Street Distillers in Palisade, eventually moved to offering takeout in early May, and reopened for on-premise dining on June 3. Thibodeau, who also co-founded Ska in 1995 and Peach Street in 2005, is beyond excited to finally execute his team’s original plan: to bring the best of the two brands to Boulder. “I hope it exposes what we’ve learned in a collective 40 years of brewing and distilling,” he says.
There, thirsty visitors can now sip on delicious craft cocktails made with Peach Street’s grain-to-glass whiskey, vodka, gin, eau de vie, and brandy or select a brew from a menu of nearly 30 Ska beers. (Bonus: Many of the beers have never been poured outside of the Durango taproom.) As for what to pair with your Blower Haze Imperial IPA or Two Tone Army cocktail (a blend of the distillery’s Colorado straight bourbon, amaro, and barrel-aged cherry liquor), chef Jeremy Storm’s menu sports a mix of elevated pub fare and barbecue. There are also several vegetarian options, thanks to Thibodeau’s vegan influence.
Order anything on the menu featuring the brewstillery’s juicy brisket, which is brined for seven days in a mixture of salt, sugar, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, and chile de arbol before being smoked over Palisade peach wood for 10 hours. We like it best on the flatbread with Brussels sprouts, pickled sweet onion, and house-made Ska Pinstripe Red Ale mustard. For a lighter option, try the Dave, a sandwich stuffed with jerk tempeh, avocado, roasted mushrooms, calypso bean spread, roasted jalapeño, and curry carrot relish.
Thibodeau and his team are focused on sourcing Western Slope ingredients for Peach Street’s spirits as well as the food menus at the brand’s Durango and Palisade outposts; they hope to bring more of that practice to Boulder as the supply chain recovers from the effects of the pandemic. “We use as many local ingredients as possible up there and want to stick to our commitment to local sourcing,” he says.
Thibodeau, who grew up in Wheat Ridge and now lives in Durango, has always had a strong connection to the Front Range, particularly Boulder. He and his partners were drawn to the city’s outdoor-loving, community-minded population; when the space that previously housed Fate Brewing opened up last summer, the team knew it was the perfect spot for their brewstillery. They purchased all of Fate’s brewing equipment and installed the components for the distillery. “It was serendipitous. All of these pieces just came together,” Thibodeau says.
While those pieces temporarily unraveled during the pandemic closures, an outpouring of support from customers has made Thibodeau optimistic about the future. He can’t wait for the brewstillery to become a larger part of the Boulder community, like Ska and Peach Street have in Durango and Palisade. “It’s all about the people, which is why we’re so passionate about it,” he says. “The brewstillery is going to be an even better community space coming out of the other side of the pandemic.”
Ska Street Brewstillery’s dining room and two patios are currently open Wednesday–Friday, 3–10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
1600 38th St., Ste 100, Boulder