With 5 breweries, and rumors of more, this small mountain town of 16,000 has a lot going for it.
At Steamworks Brewing, an extremely popular family and adult restaurant and brewery that is (unfortunately in my case) known for it's house-smoked meats and such, nothing I can recommend with strong vegan ethics, but the beer did occasionally shine, and although there were many dark beer (a personal fav), what stood out most was the Chile Ale. This style of beer, I discovered, was common among the Southwestern breweries, and for obvious and good reason. This brewery also boasts a large number of Certified Cicerones, 5 when I was there, and it showed. Very knowledgeable staff.
Onto Durango Brewing Company, a longer staple on the local scene, but which is more recently under the brewing mastery of from Boulder Brewing. The assistant brewer took me on a tour of the small brewery, where I got to see some fresh Colorado hops being seasonally used in some of their tasty beer. The IPA is winner.
At Brew, a different philosophy exists-crafting beer with single-ingredient focuses. A flight of 4 beers, each highlighting the 4 primary components of beer showed each of the primary characteristics well, and it was a friendly and flavorful experience.
Carver Brewing, on the main drag through town, is another always-busy kind of place. While the beers didn't bowl me over, they were all solidly crafted, and yet another brewery in this area utilizing local clean energy and good ethical practices.
The real highlight of the Durango brew scene is Ska. This brewery has positioned itself as a staple of good Colorado beer. From the clean and refreshing Blonde, to the full bodies Red, to hoppy standard of the Modus and their Decadant Impreial IPA, we're talking about seriously good beer. An excellent, fun tour is available and they also feature beers made on premises by talented home brewers that have won the chance to brew their beer at Ska.
Two breweries also exist in Cortez, J Fargo's, with a small selection of mediocre beers in a semi-divey family restaurant setting can be missed, and Main St Brewery downtown offers far better beer, although nothing necessarily worth going out of your way for. The town of Cortez is something that needs some better progress and happiness.
More beer travel to come...