One of the state’s oldest communities, Rollinsville holds roots in mining and railroads and, in recent years, has accumulated a handful of delicious local hangouts. The historic mountain community of just under 200 residents is pleated between Nederland and Black Hawk along densely forested Highway 119.

You might recognize Rollinsville for its once booming Stage Stop bar and music venue. As the faded sign by the front door declares, the 1868 stagecoach toll building served “hicks, hippies and bikers” passing through on the Rollins Pass trail and Moffat Tunnel railroad route. Today, the Stage Stop remains closed while entrepreneurs work to revive the venue and, thanks to valley visionaries, a handful of offerings have cropped up across the street.

Here’s where to eat and drink in Rollinsville the next time you find yourself gold panning, four wheeling, or gravel biking in Gilpin County.

Gold Dirt Distillery

Three Rollinsville-based Gold Dirt fifths in front of a distillery sign and barrel.
Bottles from Gold Dirt Distillery. Photo courtesy of Gold Dirt Distillery

A nod to Rollinsville founder John Rollins’ gold mining claims, this family distillery rests near the Chicago prospector’s Gold Dirt Mines. Owner and distiller Judd Kaufman likens his own journey from Chicago to Boulder to Rollinsville as a modern-day escape to the hills to chase his own liquid dreams.

Kaufman distills small-batch botanical gins and mountain water vodka at 8,500 feet, shaking and stirring curious cocktails in the petite Main Street tasting room. The gin-centric distillery sells a popular floral lavender gin that changes hues when mixed into different cocktails. Gold Dirt’s Honey Spirit—distilled mead aged in oak—adds an elevated spin to concoctions like the Majestic Moose peach tonic. Purists enjoy the Gold Dirt High & Dry Gin gimlet while adventurous sippers order the Behind the Green Door—a muddled and double strained mix of mint, lime, matcha syrup, and Gold Dirt Rocky Mountain Gin.

Kaufman purchased the Stage Stop, on the other side of the street from Gold Dirt’s tasting room, and plans on restoring the historic institution to its glory days of a rockin’ stage inside a casual small-town bar and restaurant. 41 Main St., Rollinsville

Howlin Wind Brewing and Blending

A beer glass perched on a flower box.
A beer from Howlin Wind. Photo courtesy of Howlin Wind Brewing and Blending

Owners, brewers, and partners Melissa Nicholson and Zack Delashmit transformed Rollinsville’s former plastic injection molding facility into a funky community brewery in June 2021. Named for the winter breeze that tears through the county, Howlin Wind Brewing rotates what comes through its eight taps as new experimentations come to fruition. Nicholson and Delashmit focus on making approachable beers, pumping out popular sours and IPAs while easing regulars into more robust barrel-aged Belgian farmhouse styles. The brews are named after song lyrics by regionally loved bands—Yonder Mountain String Band, String Cheese Incident, Billy Strings, and Widespread Panic—and have colorful tattoo-style labels.

“Our brewery is a lesson in attachment,” Nicholson says. “Once someone falls in love with a certain beer, it is bound to change. We are on a fairly small system, and serve a pretty thirsty community.”

Point your stool toward the humble stage for local live music every Saturday and sip the Dragon With Matches mango-habanero sour ($6) or try the citrusy effervescent New Horizons saison ($6) with hints of pepper and crusty bread, which pairs perfectly with “mushroom foraging, watching meteor showers, and stacking wood.”

“Ultimately, we want to feel like our mountain community’s living room with a local welcoming atmosphere,” Nicholson says. Mission accomplished. 51 A Main St., Rollinsville

Melt Coffee

A Melt Coffee drink with pastries.
Melt Coffee. Photo courtesy of Melt Coffee

Brewer, barista, and Melt Coffee owner Darin Jones didn’t drink coffee until he was 30 and traveling through Costa Rica—it was a beautiful Terrazu espresso shot that tasted like chocolate-covered oranges that converted him.

Jones landed in Gilpin County after a visit to see a concert by a few remaining Grateful Dead members. He couch-crashed with Howlin Wind Brewing and Blending owner Zack Delashmit back in 2010 and ended up moving to Nederland—a Colorado foothill haven known for its jam band residents and eccentric festivals—from Louisiana in 2018. A few years later, Jones opened Melt Coffee inside the brewery, providing the perfect morning counterpart to the brewery’s evening taps and tunes scene.

The dog-friendly cafe and work-from-anywhere spot is known for its summertime iced vanilla lattes, fall pumpkin spice coffee, and housemade chai along with a sweet menu of Boulder Breadworks pastries.

“At Melt, I’m trying to produce the best cup of coffee I can, using the best coffee I can get my hands on,” Jones says. “My coffee may not taste like your grandmother’s. The goal is different. I roast all the coffee off site and source it from a green coffee supplier called Cafe Imports.” Watch for beans from Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala, and Kenya to arrive and be sure to try a generous slice of apple pie ($3) with a Melt dirty chai ($6). 51 A Main St., Rollinsville

Toss Wood Fired Eatery

A large barn with a pizza sign.
Toss Wood Fired Eatery’s barn. Photo by Lisa Blake

The new kid on the literal block, this wood-fired pizzeria opened in the fall of 2022 inside a former auto repair shop. The towering restored barn now houses a clay wood-burning oven, blazing away at 800 degrees and licking the edges of pies topped with ingredients you wouldn’t expect to find in a rural roadside stop—hello, herbed lemon ricotta and chili-honey-drizzled bacon hunks.

Co-owners Cole Johnson and Reid Sullivan and their team can be found chatting up regulars and tossing dough behind the walk-up counter. They pull chopped wood from an endless stack, feeding flames and popping caps off of Coke bottles for guests while jamming along to whatever local bluegrass artist might be pickin’ on the barn’s side stage.

An eager-to-please menu teases with wood-fired cauliflower ($9) with romesco sauce, capers, and goat cheese; a tossed romaine salad ($13) dashed with roasted red peppers, red onion, pepperoncini, feta, and toasted sunflower seeds; and a list of pizzas that range from vegan to carnivorous. Locals love the Verde ($17) with pesto, mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, lemon, and a balsamic glaze.

Each item is proudly made to order in house and the menu complements its Rollinsville neighbors: A cool cocktail, easy-drinking lager, or iced chai latte all mesh with Toss’ modern flavors, making it an ideal stop for diners who want to get their food to go to enjoy at one of the surrounding businesses.

“Small towns are all about community, really a long word for family,” Jones says. “When someone says there’s something special about Rollinsville, it’s really a combination of the environment, the people in it, and the places they gather.” 63 Main St., Rollinsville

Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake is a freelance writer and children's book author living in Breckenridge. When she's not writing about food and mountain adventures, she can be found on the river with her son, pug and husband.