Saturday, September 19, 2009

Colorado's Newest - and Smallest - Brewery

Heading east out of Montrose, very few people are looking for a brewery on the main highway. But if you cast your eyes quickly to the south side of the road just past a giant Chevrolet dealership, you will see Horsefly Brewing, in its two-week-old splendor, located in the office of a former tractor dealership at 2320 E. Main St.

Former homebrewer Nigel Askew and business partner Melanie Freismuth opened this 1-1/2-barrel brewery after seeing other small shops around the state and realizing they could do it too. By all accounts, Horsefly is now tied with the Ourayle House in Ouray as the smallest brewery in Colorado. It's still open only during limited hours from Friday through Monday and doesn't have a website yet . (Even the picture I posted with this blurb has nothing to do with the brewery; it was just the best shot of a horsefly I could find.) But anyone who happened to stop in last weekend - as the Beer Geekette and I did - could see this is a fully functional place to hang out.

There are three tables and a four-seat bar inside, as well as a couple of places to sit down outside. A giant TV screen has football on most of the time (hence, the reason Horsefly is open Monday night as well). Multiple board games available for playing, and between that and the owner's kids showing you to your table, you realize quickly this is one of the more family-friendly breweries in the state. And - this is the best part - they bring you peanuts to your table and are just fine with you throwing the shells onto the floor when you're done.

The beer selection, as might be expected from a 50-gallon production system, is limited, especially now. A Pale, a Scottish, a Red and a Nut Brown were on tap last weekend and are available in an affordable taster menu. All have a very English feel, befitting Nigel's background as a native Zambian who attended a Scottish boarding school as a child. The pale has a slightly fruity character, while the smooth Scotch is highly malty with a hint of chocolate in the background. The Red is semi-sweet and highly drinkable, and the Nut Brown has a lighter body and medium color.

Horsefly becomes the only official brewery in Montrose (there is a Smugglers Brewpub here, but the beer it serves is made in its main location in Telluride). And while the beer styles aren't breaking any new ground, the brews are pleasant - as are the owners and staff who looked really happy to see the crowds show up the first week. Nigel said about 40-50 people packed the place on its second Friday night in business.

With the comings and goings of breweries these days, it's hard to pinpoint exactly where Horsefly is in terms of the oldest beer makers in the state, though most people guessed it falls around 105th or 106th (and will see fellow brewers in back of it when new brewpubs open in Norwood and in the southeast Denver suburbs in the coming months). Regardless of its standing, though, it's a welcome addition to an industry that is still burgeoning in Colorado despite the economic downturn.


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