Even amongst Coors employees, Golden City Brewery (GCB), the second largest brewery in Golden, is a local favorite. The tasting room is located in a carriage house built in 1890 and is just three blocks south of Washington Avenue on 12th street in the historic downtown district. According to Andrew Taylor, a founding investor and 1974 Mines alum, the company has grown to full capacity since it opened in 1993, in large part due to the establishment of the company’s beer garden.
Located in Charlie and Janine Sturdavant’s once grassy backyard, the beer garden was constructed to meet the demand for more seating at the brewery after heavy customer use wore the grass away. According to a regular customer, Geddy, another Mines alum, GCB is the hangout spot for locals to catch up and relax after work. Geddy, an India Pale Ale (IPA) guy, credits his love of IPAs to the unique and fruity taste of the craft IPA beer, Evolution, produced at GCB.
According to the bartender, Derek Gilmore, the brewery’s two most popular brews are the Evolution IPA and the Legendary Red. Derek credits this to the beers’ percentage of alcohol by volume – 7.3% ABV and 5.2% ABV respectively – which he claims is a price-wise consideration for Mines and other students. In addition to the attractive % ABV, Derek explains that the flavor of the IPAs comes from fruitier hopps such as Cascade and Simcoe hops, which attracts the beer connoisseurs.
Another delectable and rare commodity brewed at GCB is their Centurian Barley Wine. This balanced and deliciously sweet beer boasts 11.9% ABV and is typically brewed for eight to 12 months, according to Taylor. Other seasonal beers currently on tap include the Golden Summer Ale, a favorite of Taylor’s, and the Irish Stout. Taylor also mentioned that regulars keep an eye out for the company’s seasonal chili and pumpkin beers.
Golden City Brewery’s unique history and flavor continues to influence the clientele. The carriage house buzzed with a disproportionate number of local geologists and engineers who loved small scale beer production in addition to home brewing, compared to tourists and out of town guests, who were also present in large numbers.
Gilmore started home brewing when he turned 21 after his parents gave him a homebrew kit. He had been brewing for 10 months when he applied for a job at GCB. Sarah Henderson, the brewmaster’s assistant, is another Mines alumnus who studied in an accelerated brewing program after graduating from Mines. She worked for Avery Brewery in Boulder for a year of her accelerated program. In addition, the founding brew-master at GCB, professional geologist Sturdavant, also became the first brew-master at Tommyknocker’s, a microbrewery in Idaho Springs founded in 1994.
Although GCB is a geologist and engineer infiltrated brewery, it is not exclusive in its stock. The company produces 1000 barrels each year and occasionally sells out. In these dire situations the company purchases other local beers to fill the tasting room until fresh GCB batches are sufficiently blended.
When asked why the company has not expanded production, Taylor said that Golden City Brewery maintains a special group of steadfast customers who enjoy the brewery as an “important social center” specifically where it is located in the historic district and respect the brewery for its small size. Geddy agreed saying it is considered part of the “Golden charm.” Geddy advised avid bikers to take note – GCB is the final stop on the Pint to Pint ride, which starts at the Ironworks Brewpub in Lakewood.
After two visits, tastes of the Centurian Barley Wine, Evolution IPA, a pint of the Legendary Red, and a pint of Mad Molly Brown (the first beer purchased by the author), the author’s favorite remained Mad Molly Brown. For its flavors, quality, atmosphere, and accessibility, the brewery receives a five-star rating. Potential customers should note that Golden City Brewery only accepts cash.