Visited on: Wednesday 6th June 2018
If Ska Brewing is the largest brewery in Durango by volume, then Steamworks Brewing is the largest in size. By this I mean retail space; it really is very large.
Situated just one block off Main Avenue its doors were opened on 14th September 1996 by founders Kris Oyler and Brian McEachron. Back then in the “New Wave” of brewing it was the fourth brewery to open in Durango.
The very large building that houses Steamworks was created in the 1920s as a motor works. Approaching up the hill of East 8th Street the curved roof of the building was clear to see.
In fact I thought it was the main entrance as we were coming from the Main Avenue direction, but no. Because of the hill the actual front entrance is on the first floor around the corner on 2nd Avenue.
Inside we found the bar counter on the right side of the large room and we settled near here. Once we had our drinks I took a look around the rest of the pub. The brewery is on the left. I continued towards the back of the building and found another room filled with tables and chairs but with no service so I guess this is only opened up when the pub becomes busy. This room has access to a balcony overlooking 8th Street.
The in-house brewery produces around 1,700 barrels (bbls) and this is sold on draught in the pub. As you can imagine, it is a very busy place in the summer months. They used to distribute throughout nine neighbouring states but that all finished when the recession took hold. Back then Ska Brewing were able to brew and bottle the Steamworks beers and package them into bottle or can.
As the economic situation improved the company decided to dip their toes into the distribution pond for a second time. This time they sell their beer in the state of Colorado only. A good idea as there are more outlets now than existed before the financial melt-down. This time the partner brewery is Dry Dock Brewing of Aurora, a city east of Denver. They brew around 4,000 barrels (bbls) of Steamworks beers per annum. Compare that with what is brewed in house. Having said that, the restaurant accounts for 60% of all the company’s sales.
There was a wide range of beers offered: Conductor (9.1%), an Imperial IPA; Dubbel D (7.9%), an unfiltered Belgian dubbel; Sweet PR (5.5%), an American pale ale made with pressed hop extracts; One Wit Wunder (4.8%), an unfiltered Belgian wheat beer; Backside Stout (6.3%), a sweet English stout; Prescribed Burn (4.8%), a chili ale; Prudence (4.5%), an American session pale ale; Lizard Head Red (5.3%), an Irish red ale; Third Eye (6.6%), an American pale ale; Steam Engine Lager (5.1%), an American lager and Kölsch (4.8%), the classic German beer from Cologne.
We had a few of them and these are our thoughts: Sweet PR was the ale made of pressed hops. We found it to be a reasonable beer with a slightly sweet taste and after taste. Prudence Pale Ale had a medium bitterness in the body with some orange notes. Lizard Head Red had the right taste for the style with a little extra bitterness in the finish. Third Eye Pale Ale was well balance with medium bitterness and slightly spicy. Conductor tasted its strength and was slightly peppery with medium bitterness. Kölsch although pleasant we found it a little too sweet for the type of beer.
In addition; the food must be good here as they have a high rate of returning customers.
Steamworks Brewing Company, 801 East 2nd Avenue, Durango, Colorado, USA 81301. Tel: 970 259 9200
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11.00-24.00; Friday-Saturday 11.00-02.00
Durango can be reached by Greyhound Bus and by air to its Regional Airport.