Visited on: Wednesday 6th June 2018
Carver’s is the oldest brew-pub in Durango and was very nearly the oldest in the entire state. To keep the narrative complete its origins actually go back to 1983.
On 1st June of that year brothers Jim and Bill Carver, along with wives Sara and Eleanor opened the Carver Brothers Bakery in Winter Park, Colorado. Later, in 1986, the brothers opened the Carver Brothers Bakery and Café in Durango and sold the Winter Park operation.
In 1988 it became legal in the state of Colorado to brew and sell beer to customers on the same premises, in other words to open a brew-pub.
It had long been the intention of Bill Carver to open one to supplement the café. To that effect he had purchased a small plant in April 1988 that was intended for the Century Hall Brewery in Milwaukee. Its building had burned to the ground and Bill Carver bought the equipment from the Salvage Agent.
So, they were all ready to go forward to be the first brew-pub in Colorado. However there was competition as there were two schemes announced to open in Denver. And so it was that Wynkoop Brewery was the first in the state, opening in Denver on 18th October 1988. You will find an article on this brewery in BeerVisits. The Carver brothers’ pub opened its doors in Durango during December 1988. The other scheme in Denver failed.
I was with Linda and John when we visited. There is a small bar counter on the right with a row of occupied stools in front. There are a few loose tables and chairs at the front and further along the room are some booths on the left side.
The feeling is more of a normal neighbourhood bar than a brew-pub. After settling down I did some exploring. I followed a sign that directed me to “Brewery & Patio”. I found the brewery without difficulty but around the corner I found another bar-room complete with a bar counter.
There was a good collection of beers to had, as follows: Lightner Creek Lager (4.4%), a Czech lager; Old Oak Amber Ale (5.5%), an American amber ale; Colorado Trail Nutbrown Ale (5.6%); Iron Horse Oatmeal Stout (5.0%); Dandelion Saison (6.1%).
Continuing: Pine River Double IPA (10.3%); Vapor Trail IPA (7.1%); Raspberry Wheat Ale (5.2%); Weminuche Wit (5.5%), a Belgian wheat beer; Brewers’s Reserve Russian Imperial Stout (13.7%) and Red Cliffs Lager (abv unknown), an American lager.
We tasted some of these and this was our opinion: Colorado Trail Nutbrown Ale was a good brown ale with medium balance and bitterness. Old Oak Amber Ale was very low in bitterness, more like a light brown ale. Pine River Double IPA was very smooth and was quite bitter as you would expect with a little malt in the background. Vapor Trail IPA was very smooth with a citrus after taste. Not a normal IPA, yet still good.
They also make their own Root Beer. Carver brewing is well worth visiting and it is still baking. Because of this it is open for breakfasts, see below.
Carver Brewing Company, 1022 Main Avenue, Durango, Colorado 81301. Tel: 270 259 4818
Sunday-Thursday: 7.00-21.00; Friday-Saturday: 7.00-22.00
Durango can be reached by Greyhound Bus and by air to its Regional Airport.