Hip Hops
by Adam Smith
Aug 23, 2013 | 6690 views | 0 0 comments | 342 342 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Toasters lead singer Rob ‘Bucket’ Hingley wetting his whistle with a Pinstripe Red Ale at a Ska Brewery performance. (Photo by Scott D. W. Smith)
The Toasters lead singer Rob ‘Bucket’ Hingley wetting his whistle with a Pinstripe Red Ale at a Ska Brewery performance. (Photo by Scott D. W. Smith)
Dave Bruzza of Greensky Bluegrass goes solo in the heart of Telluride Brewing Company’s operation. (Photo by Adam Smith)
Dave Bruzza of Greensky Bluegrass goes solo in the heart of Telluride Brewing Company’s operation. (Photo by Adam Smith)
Grab a unique ale and catch nightly special events at the Rockslide Brewery in the center of Grand Junction.
Grab a unique ale and catch nightly special events at the Rockslide Brewery in the center of Grand Junction.
Beer can change the world, or at least make it a lot more fun. There are many times in history when the liquid social lubricant has played an integral part in community building. In Western Colorado the booming resurgence of craft-beer production has not only enriched the local markets – it has also given remote destinations a hub, where locals and visitors can congregate over libations and entertainment. The millenia-old symbiotic relationship between beer and art lives on within the nearly two dozen microbreweries and brewpubs between Grand Junction and Durango, all of which contribute in their own way to the vibrant sonic recreational scene of the Western Slope.          

Named after the late-50s Jamaican music that paved the way for the punk and reggae music movements, Ska Brewery in Durango is more than a craft-beer powerhouse, Starting in 1995, owners Bill Graham and Dave Thibodeau prophetically jumped ahead of the microbrewery explosion, with the intention of preserving the creative essence of hops-to-libation conversion. Entering a market that had become overshadowed by corporate mega-producers, the brewers knew they had to set themselves apart by attaching their personalities to their beer.

The obvious choice was the music that inspired them, and from day one the duo has used live music as a means of celebrating the benchmarks of their craft. From the debut of their third beer ever, Ten Pin Porter, to last year’s huge 17th anniversary party headlined by Reel Big Fish, Ska Brewery has made a point of attaching musicians to their grassroots success. The aforementioned ska legends, Reel Big Fish, were booked unconventionally – through a drinking session backstage at one of their shows – and the brewery’s latest collaborative effort with a Washington, D.C. brew outfit came about after a favorable conversation on shared sonic interests.

This standout brewery now has an onsite beer garden that will host performances all summer. Although Ska Brewery may be the best incarnation of the tight relationship between booze and tunes, they are far from alone in becoming an entertainment and nightlife hub for Western Colorado communities.

With, as its mantra, “Brewing great beer is our passion, living life, full of friends, fun and great music is our pursuit,” Dolores River Brewery is an obvious standout among the beer and music pairing institutions. Weekly concerts boast top state and national touring acts hailing from Utah to Kansas, and often feature accomplished artists on the brink of breaking out of the regional circuit. All summer long, quality brands of bluegrass, rock, gospel and folk tend to dominate the  self-built outdoor stage in the appropriately dubbed Hopyard. Beyond their half-dozen year-round beer selections, curious brews like Cascadian Black Ale and Jamaican Sweet Brown help round out the seasonal menu, and can be enjoyed with an extensive homemade wood-oven pizza selection.  

Grand Junction’s Rockslide Brewpub is that city’s oldest brewpub, and it offers a good excuse to partake on just about every holiday, from St. Patrick’s Day to New Year’s Eve. In addition to serving as the perfect watering hole for sports spectating, Rockslide hosts awesomely obscure events like women’s arm wrestling, ninja trivia and beer pong/flip cup tournaments. On Saturday nights, live music is mandatory, and ranges from folk duos to hip DJs. Brewer Dr. Z makes sure that all events are curated with one of their six year-round brews, like Widowmaker Wheat or Kokopelli Cream Ale, in mind.

The award-winning Telluride Brewing Company makes its musical influences known from the second you enter the brew building. Behind the bar, and adjacent to large vats filled with Facedown Brown ale and Tempter IPA, is a custom mural of the iconic Steal Your Face logo made popular by The Grateful Dead. Beyond providing numerous summer regional music festivals with tasty brews, it is not uncommon for revered musicians like Dave Bruzza of Greensky Bluegrass to perform intimate solo acoustic sets from the brewing platform. If local bands aren’t filling in the live music gaps, then great tunes are always coming from the speakers, to provide the soundtrack for thirsty visitors all summer long.

Two Rascals in Montrose is one of the Western Slope’s youngest brewpubs, but has nonetheless quickly become the entertainment hub for the town. There is literally something scheduled every night, with live music ranging from a Jazzology residency on Saturdays to  acoustic Tuesdays. In between tunes, the friendly staff serves up cold pints for trivia night and exclusive movie screenings – and hosts an artist during the townwide art crawls. Monday’s $1 taco nights are also popular.


Dolores River Brewery

100 S. 4th St. Dolores

(970) 882-4677



Smuggler’s Brew Pub

225 S. Pine St., Telluride

(970) 728-5620


Telluride Brewing Company

156 Society Dr., Telluride

(970) 728-5094



Colorado Boy Pub And Brewery

602 Clinton St., Ridgway

(970) 626-5333



Ouray Brewery

607 Main St., Ouray

(970) 325-7388


Ourayle House Brewing

703 Main St., Ouray

(970) 903-1824



2 Rascals Brewing Company

147 N. 1st St., Montrose

(970) 249-8689


Horsefly Brewing Company

846 E. Main St., Montrose

(970) 249-6889



Revolution Brewing

325 Grand Ave., Paonia

(970) 260-4869



Rockslide Brewery

401 Main St., Grand Junction

(970) 245-2111


Kannah Creek Brewing Company

1960 N. 12th St., Grand Junction

(970) 263-0111



Carver Brewing Co.

1022 Main Ave., Durango

(970) 259-2545


Ska Brewing Company

225 Girard St., Durango

(970) 247-5792


Steamworks Brewing Co.

801 E. 2nd Ave., Durango

(970) 259-9200


Durango Brewery

3000 Main Ave., Durango

(970) 247-3396



Palisade Brewing Company

200 Peach Ave., Palisade

(970) 464-1462


Rocky Mountain Meadery

3701 G Rd., Palisade

(970) 464-7899



Gunnison Brewery

138 N. Main St., Gunnison

(970) 641-2739



Rifle Brewing Company

412 Park Ave., Rifle

(970) 625-8008


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