Jim Dykstra's picture

Aspen Brewing Company: Brews at Maltitude

Aspen Brewing Company Beer Connoisseur

Though Aspen is known mostly as an alpine getaway, the town's history is entwined with beer, as all good things should be. Surprisingly though, this town has gone long stretches without a native brewery. Perhaps it was more enamored with wine culture, but thankfully, Aspen Brewing Company has stepped up to fill the void and satiate parched slope-shredders. 

Before we check out the bros who brew today, let's acknowledge their brethren of yore.

Aspen's generally monogamous relationship with local brews can be traced back to 1885. The appropriately named Aspen Brewery was located on the Roaring Fork River, which supplied the brewery with fresh liquor to brew its one lager offering for what was then a small mining community. According to Aspen Brewing Company, the brewery enjoyed a pleasant 17-year run before sloping downhill in 1902. 

Thus began a near 90-year dry-spell for the community, until a brewery by the name of Flying Dog emerged. Yes, that Flying Dog. But Flying Dog flew the coop after three years, moving to Denver and ultimately, Maryland. Once again Aspen's beer scene was dryer than John Denver's hair, and would remain so until 2008. Enter Duncan Clauss, founder of Aspen Brewing Company, who was ready to carry the torch.

In the words of the brewery: 

"Aspen Brewing Company opened in March 2008 to bring craft beer back to Aspen. Our original location, 557 North Mill Street, was located across the Roaring Fork River from the site of Aspen’s original Sanders Brewery. Packed in to 2000 square feet, we were able to keep beer flowing through Aspen locals and tourists with our seven barrel brew house and intimate tasting room."

Today, the brewery churns out a mountain of refreshing brews at its production facility near the Aspen Airport, all of which can be tasted at its taproom, open seven days a week from 2 to 10 p.m. Aspen Brewing focuses on minimizing waste and recycling water, growlers, cans and sending spent grain to local Rock Bottom Ranch, a local teaching farm and subsidiary of Aspen Environmental Studies. It was also one of the first three breweries to sign the Clean Water Act, along with New Belgium and Odell, and donates a significant portion of its beer production each year to local charities.

So what about the guilt-free, environmentally friendly beer? 

Aspen Brewing has three series – its year round Silver Queen series, its Seasonally Inspired series and Temerity, its barrel-aged offerings. Typically you can find around a dozen on tap and in stores at any time. Let's look at a few:


Independence Pass Ale is our super-hopped high altitude rendition of the classic India Pale Ale style. We couldn’t help but name our high-hop beer after Aspen’s eastern boundary and 12,095ft. high-elevation pass—maybe due to the delirious effect, or maybe because the initials just worked out well. You decide.

Availability: Year-round, 12oz. cans and draft throughout Colorado
OG = 16.0°plato, FG = 3.0°plato
ABV: 7%
IBU: 62
Glass: Pint or can


A classic English style pale ale with wheat and honey malt flavor paired with bright floral and citrus hop flavors.  Aspen Brewing Company’s first “seasonal” offering was our Spring Blonde Wheat Ale in 2008.  It was such a hit we kept brewing This Season’s Blonde through that summer and year-round.

Availability: Year-round, 12oz. cans and draft throughout Colorado
OG = 13°plato, FG = 2.5°plato
ABV: 5.6%
IBU: 24
Glass: Pint or can


Fresh “just picked” hops and premium pale malts, rye, and caramel malt aged in Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey barrels create aggressive notes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, and smoke that complement and enhance the caramel and rye flavors.

Availability: Fall, on tap and in 22oz. bombers
IBU: 77
ABV: 9.2%
Glass: Snifter


Paying tribute to the brave men who pioneered the ski industry following their service in World War II, our 10th Mountain Imperial Stout is an imperial version of the traditional English oatmeal stout.  A decadent beer worthy of sipping by the fire or sharing with friends.

Availability: Winter, tasting room tap and 22oz. bottles in select liquor stores and tasting room while supplies last.
ABV: 9.3%
IBU: 87
Glass: Snifter

Find out more at aspenbrewingcompany.com!

(Photos and Beer Desciptions Courtesy Aspen Brewing Company)