San Luis Valley Brewing Company
Visited on: Sunday 3rd June 2018
Alamosa was our stop for two nights on our road journey between Denver and Durango. After we had checked in to a motel we went to the town centre. Here we found two breweries almost side by side separated only by a laundry.
The Square Peg Brewery was closed as it was Sunday. Not to worry as we visited it the following evening. What’s more, San Luis Valley Brewery looked very inviting in the soft light of dusk.
First a little about Alamosa. It is on the Rio Grande river and was created in 1878 with arrival of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. They established a junction here and later workshops for all of their narrow-gauge lines which were very extensive and stretched hundreds of miles through the mountain passes of Colorado and New Mexico.
Alamosa is still connected to the rest of the network via a line to Walsenburg, south of Pueblo. That line crosses La Veta Pass and a tourist train is run from Alamosa to there in the warmer months.
Both the other two lines are still technically open but are impassable because they are used for the storage of unused rail wagons. One line goes north easterly through Del Norte and South Fork to the upper Rio Grande valley.
The other line runs south down the San Luis Valley to Antonito and was once both narrow and standard gauge. It had a tourist service until comparatively recently. Beyond Antonito the narrow gauge continues as the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad. The San Luis Valley is very notable as it is the highest area of cultivatable land in the USA and the largest in the world. It averages around 7,500 feet above sea level.
Back to the pub, we noticed that there were seats around the outside of the entrance door. No doubt for observing the action on Main Street. There were two large heaters either side; at this height I’m sure they are often in use during the evenings. We entered the main room and noticed the bar counter was on the back wall facing Main Street. The building was constructed for the American National Bank in 1897.
We found a seat on the San Juan Avenue side of the room. This is close to the brewing equipment. The room has a bare brick wall on one side. Paintings are hung here including many of bears. The two walls facing the streets are plastered and the tall windows here have areas of stained glass and lead. The corner of the room has a raised area. The furniture is all wooden with padded seats.
The planning of the brewery was commenced in May 2005 by Scott and Angie Graber along with Angie’s parents, Steve and Sue Friedman.
After ten months of hard work they opened up on March 2006 with an interior created by Kris Gosar, a local designer. Steve and Sue have since retired from the business. They installed a 7 barrel (bbls) brewery and they use a considerable proportion of local Colorado hops and malt along with ingredients from the rest of the USA and abroad.
The beer selection is quite ambitious and when we visited we were offered the regular range of six was: Valle Especial Mexican Lager (4.2%); Valle Caliente Green Chile Lager (4.2%); Hefe Suavé American Wheat (4.8%; Alamosa Amber Ale (5.5%); Grande River IPA (6.7%); Ol’ 169 Oatmeal Stout (6.0%).
Then there were these seasonal beers: Scenic Rail Pale Ale (5.8%) and Royal Gorge Route Rogue (6.4%). Finally we had a choice of two specials: Sprucitra Pale Ale (6.%) and Imperial Porter (8.0%).
Over the two days we visited this pub we tried seven of these and these are opinions on them: Alamosa Amber was a very good example of this style with a nice aroma and a balanced taste. Grande River IPA had a good hop aroma and after taste with an aromatic flavour, good. Ol’ 169 Oatmeal Stout was a creamy beer with not necessarily a strong stout taste. Scenic Rail Pale Ale was well thought of, light in colour and nicely bitter.
The other seasonal beer available was Royal Gorge Route Rogue which we thought was good. It was a dry red ale which is unusual as they are normally malty beers.
Sprucitra Pale Ale was one of the specials. It is made with pine and spruce needles along with Citra hops giving it and unusual dark taste. We liked it.
Finally Imperial Porter was disappointing, having a thin taste with not much aroma and certainly doesn’t drink its strength.
Nevertheless this is a lovely pub with a full menu and a good vibe. Don’t miss it if you are in the area.
San Luis Valley Brewing Company, 631 Main, Alomosa, Colorado 81101. Tel: 719 587 2839
This pub is in down-town Alamosa. Alamosa is connected to Denver by Greyhound bus.
The La Veta Regional Airport is also at Alamosa.