Guanella Pass Brewing Company Tap Room
Visited on: Friday 8th June 2018
This little brew-pub had been open for just over a year when myself, Linda and John called in after a visit to the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Georgetown is an old mining town that is now quite an attraction. First in the chain of this renaissance was the Railroad which had been closed for many years before it reopened as a preservation project, more detail below.
The town has followed suite and now has the shops and restaurants befitting a tourist destination. Guanella Pass brewery has only added to the attractions that are on offer.
The Georgetown Loop Railroad was originally constructed as the Colorado Central Railroad at the standard American narrow gauge of three foot. The first section from Denver to Golden opened in 1868. The line slowly moved up the valley of the Clear Creek in stages arriving in Idaho Springs during 1877. The extension onwards to Silver Plume was not completed until the magnificent Devil’s Gate viaduct was completed in 1884.
The reason for all of this railroad construction in inhospitable mountain terrain was the mining of precious metal ores, particularly silver. The mines were soon worked out and the final section to Silver Plume operated its last train in 1938.
The preserved Georgetown Loop Railroad open throughout on 1st August 1984 following the construction of a new Devil’s Gate viaduct, although portions to either side of the viaduct had been rebuilt over the years from 1975.
We were on the first train of the day which was hauled by steam locomotive 111 that was originally built by Baldwin of Philadelphia in 1926 for the railway in El Salvador.
The train firstly sets back in the Denver direction so that passengers can take pictures and look up whilst underneath the viaduct. It then changes direction and roars back through the station before doing a complete circle whilst crossing the high metal bridge on the way.
Thereafter it follows a twisting and turning route to Silver Plume which is 2 miles from Georgetown station by road and 4 and a half miles by rail, rising 600 feet on the way. The depot and maintenance facilities are at Silver Plume. Needless to say, the downhill journey to Georgetown was a considerable anti-climax.
So after experiencing the total opposites of clear mountain air and coal smoke, we took the short drive from the Devil’s Gate station to Georgetown itself and the Guanella Pass brewery.
The actual Guanella Pass is crossed by a road from Georgetown itself in the Clear Creek Valley bottom to Grant in the Geneva Valley of the Platt River. At the top it is 11,669 feet above sea level. Georgetown is around 8,500 feet. John wanted to take us over the pass, but we had pubs to visit!
The small pub and its brewery opened on 26th May 2017 so had only been in existence for just over a year when we visited. The brew-pub is the inspiration of Stacey and Steve Skalski and are assisted by brewer Jon Strother. Steve met Jon in a brewery (where else?) and discovered they both had a shared passion for home brewing. Steve explained his desire to open a brew-pub. They needed to learn more and Steve attended the Siebel Institute and Jon went to Regis University.
Both Stacey and Steve are drop-outs from the corporate world and started their quest for a suitable site in Denver but suitable property was out of reach financially. Then they found this run-down property in Georgetown and a lot of work has been done since to bring it up to the condition it is in today. It started life in 1943 as a gas station and was an antiques shop after that, then decline set in.
It was just after midday when we called in and the pub was filling up. It is too small to have a kitchen so there was no distracting diners, just beer drinkers. Should customers want something nice to eat deliveries can be made from Troia’s, an Italian restaurant where all dishes are made from scratch. Entering the pub you pass the outside patio with great mountain views. Inside, the brewery dominates the right side of the room, the bar counter is on the left side with stools in front. The rest is occupied with high tables and chairs.
The brewery here was new in 2017 and its tanks were hand constructed. It has six fermenting tanks and five holding tanks. The beers are served direct from these to the dispensing taps. No additives are used; they’re just beers from malt, hops, yeast and Rocky Mountain water.
There were a lot of beers to taste and these were some of them: Bernese Mountain Brown Ale (6.4%), an American brown ale; Liquid Gold Double IPA (8.5%), a west coast double IPA; Her Royal Highness English Pale Ale (5.5%) made with English malt and hops; Russian Investigation (8.2%) a Russian Imperial Stout); Raspberry Blonde Ale (6.4%); Pilsner Pirate (5.5%), a Czech style pils and Tesla Alternating (6.0%), an American amber ale.
We continue with Season Pass Pale Ale (5.5%), an American pale ale; Sugarloaf Peak (5.5%), an American wheat beet; Katakta Mountain (7.2%), an American IPA; Saxon Mountain (5.8%), a stout; Alpine Peak (6.8%), a black American ale; Grey Wolf Mountain (7.1%), a rye saison and Aoraki, a Rye IPA (6.2%).
Our views on some of them are as follows: Tesla Amber tasted more like an American Pale; good though. Saxon Mountain was quite bitter. We enjoyed it but it was a bit thin for the style. Alpine Peak Black American Ale was very bitter with no discernible malt taste.
Her Royal Highness English Ale was extremely good with the genuine taste of a Bitter. Season Pass American Pale Ale was also good, having a dry bitter taste with an extra dry finish. Finally Katakta Mountain IPA was less bitter than the Pale Ale yet with a smooth taste, also good.
Really good beers, so well worth calling in at if you are visiting Georgetown or the Georgetown Loop RR.
Guanella Pass Brewing Company, 501 Rose Street, Georgetown, Colorado 80444. Tel: 303 569 5167
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11.00-21.00
There is no known public transport serving Georgetown.