Visited on: Friday 8th June 2018
El Rancho has been around for some time although it has only recently became a brew-pub. Its story begins in 1948 when it opened as a trading post on Route 40 with a lounge (saloon) and restaurant.
It was built and operated by the Jahnke family. They sold it in November 1953 to Ray and Mildred Zipprich who ran a pie distribution business in Wisconsin.
Their daughter and son-in-law Donna and Paul McEncroe and their children operated it from February 1958. Over the years they established a gift shop, banqueting business and a US Post Office station in the building. In 1988 they sold it and it went through a number of a number of owners over the next few years without achieving its former success. It eventually closed in the early 2010s.
The building had lain empty for over two years when it caught the attention of the Vincent family who purchased it for $1.2 million. They completely refurbished it and installed a brewery that was designed by Tom Trapp, who has created many breweries especially for the Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom chains.
It reopened in May 2015 with Tom Vincent, one of the owners and also a butcher, in charge of the kitchen with Bard Nielsen as the Head Brewer.
Although built on the original Route 40, which is still with us, these days a lot of the trade comes off I-70. The junction is very close to the restaurant and due to the foresight of Donna and Paul McEncroe the exit turn-off is known as El Rancho. This is as a result of considerable pressure from them when the Interstate was being built in the mid-1960s.
This was the last pub myself, Linda and John visited before our return to the metropolitan Denver area after our Odyssey around the state of Colorado. We entered up stairs and turned towards the right into the main room which was huge. The bar counter was opposite the entrance and the brewing equipment was to be found on the left of the way in.
We took seats at a high mushroom-shaped table and looked at the draught beer list. It was quite extensive with eleven beers for our delectation.
Pleasingly, bar one, they were all ales. The regular offerings were I(70)PA (6.8%), an American IPA; Panorama Pilsner (5.0%); Hiwan Haze (6.8%), a New England IPA; Centurion (8.5%), a double IPA; Bergen Blonde (5.0%), a blonde ale and Motorcoach (5.5%), an ESB / English Pale Ale.
Then there were the seasonals and specials: Overlook (8.5%), an Imperial Coffee Stout; Super Soaker (5.0%), a Watermelon Belgian Wit; Oils and Resins (9.3%), a double IPA; Cali Love (6.7%), a West Coast IPA and Blueberry Fields Forever (7.6%), described as a tropical stout.
Between us we tried five of these beers and this is our opinion on them: Centurion Double IPA had a very complex hop taste, very good. Hiwan Haze was more fruity and not so bitter as the Centurion, well liked.
I(70)PA was not over-bitter and very smooth; Motorcoach ESB / English Pale Ale was well liked and was true to type. Finally, Cali Love West Coast IPA seemed to us to be not very representative of the style as it was very fruity with medium bitterness with a sweetish after taste. Notwithstanding that it was still very pleasant.
Of course there is a full menu available so there’s good food to accompany these excellent beers. The perfect resting point whilst driving along I-70. You may never leave!
El Rancho Brewing Company, 29260 US Highway 40, Evergreen, Colorado 80439. Tel: 303 670 2739
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11.00-22.00
The only bus route to Evergreen is from the Jefferson County Civic Center, Golden station.
This is the western terminus of the W line of the RTD Metro.
The route is entirely for rush hour travel with buses coming from Evergreen to Golden in the morning.
They return in the evening peak period. Useful only if you wish to spend the night in Evergreen!