Boulder, Colorado: Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery
Visited on: Monday 11th June 2018
Boulder is a large city of almost 100,000 inhabitants situated on the plain yet it is at the very foot of the Rocky Mountains. Located around 25 miles from the centre of Denver it is home to the main campus of the University of Colorado, the largest in the state. We reached it by bus from Denver as there is no passenger rail connection to the city. The buses are very frequent and the route is known as the Flatiron Express. The name comes from the mountains that overlook Boulder as they have an unusual shape.
This brew-pub can trace its origins back to the first major wave of microbreweries in the USA. Apart from the true hardy pioneers the 1990s were the boom time and Mountain Sun was one of that period.
It opened its doors in October 1993 with a six barrel (bbls) capacity plant and a small restaurant on Pearl Street, the main street of Boulder. One block east, Pearl Street is now pedestrianised thus making it more accessible now.
The company consolidated itself and then, in 2002 expanded in a big way by opening the Southern Sun on Boulder’s south side with a 10 barrel (bbls) brewery. We visited it later, please see an article on it in BeerVisits.
It was all change again when they took on the Vine Street Pub in Denver. A twelve barrel (bbls) brewery was added to this outlet and all the core beers now come from there, but I think the Boulder brewery still produces seasonal and special beers.
The pub itself is very likeable, taking you back to another time. We were there just after midday so, as can be imagined it was very busy with lunch-break diners. It is not a large place yet there were six servers attending to the needs of the patrons. After a very short wait we occupied one of the booths down the right side of the room. There was a row of normal tables down the middle and on the left side was a long bench seat along the wall with loose tables and chairs in front. It was all a bit crowded but that’s what creates an atmosphere.
One of the most notable aspects are the chalk illustrations that are to be found on the walls. These are the work of Bryce Widom. He started creating them for this pub in 1997 and also for the other pubs on their opening. They have certainly taken the eye of the customers as he is now a full-time illustrator with his own gallery. Their intention is to show man’s relationship with nature. As they are replaced on a quarterly basis, they also reflect the seasons. Often it takes him all night to do just one.
Number One Belgian-style Triple (9.0%); Big Krane Kölsch-style Ale (5.3%); Raspberry Wheat or Blackberry Wheat Ale (5.5%), American wheat beers; Annapurna Amber Ale (5.9%), an American amber ale.
Colorado Kind Ale (6.2%), a hoppy amber ale; Illusion Dweller IPA (7.2%), an English IPA; Isadore Java Porter (5.8%), a coffee porter; F.Y.I.P.A. (7.5%), an American IPA and XXX Pale (7.5%), a strong American pale ale.
We tried four of these and these are our opinions: Colorado Kind Ale was a well-balanced amber ale with medium bitterness. Illusion Dweller IPA had a nice dry hoppy taste in the body and after taste. XXX Pale Ale was very dry and bitter. F.Y.I.P.A. was fruity and hoppy yet not so citrus as its description belied.
This is a great little pub to visit, highly recommended.
Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, 1535 Pearl Street, Boulder 80302. Tel: 303 546 0886
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11.00-01.00
Pearl Street is the “Main Street” of Boulder and is very close to the bus terminal.
The Flatiron Flier bus route FF1 runs from Denver to Boulder every fifteen minutes all day including weekends. It is even more frequent in peak periods, Monday to Friday.
Route FF2 is quicker and runs during peak hours Monday to Friday 05.30-09.00 and 15.00-19.00.
Its frequency is every ten minutes most of the time.
Flatiron Flyer routes run from the underground bus mall at Denver Union Station to Boulder Bus Station.