At 400 W. South Boulder Road, in the unassuming and currently under-renovation strip mall, stands Lafayette’s first brewery, the Front Range Brewing Company. Outside, in the large and tree-lined parking lot, cars snake their way through the Taco Bell drive-through waiting for their turn to yell an order into the speaker. On the other side of the lot, a small stand specializing in cakes waits for the Easter rush. The two employees don’t seem to mind; They are pleasantly chatting away in the Saturday afternoon sun while men in Day-Glo orange vests direct street traffic to the mega church; just another weekend in the suburbs.
Lafayette certainly has the flavor of late ’80s-mid ’90s Colorado suburb. Wide boulevards cut through big blocky strip malls on their way from the historic core to Boulder and back. Though these stores and malls are no longer in fashion, many places have found ways to revitalize dormant storefronts, updating them with a shared-space mentality. That’s where you’ll find the Front Range Brewing Company, nestled in the back of what used to be a run-of-the-mill strip mall. Now the space is home to a few coffee roasters, a homebrew supply store and, yes, a bike shop to come. What more could “sipsters” ask for?
Sipsters — the word came to my associate like a bolt of lighting — are suburban hipsters obsessed with craft beer, and Front Range is their kind of place. Opened in 2013 by the Boggs and the Hoglund families, Front Range specializes in a wide array of styles designed to appease just about every drinker. My associate has recently developed a taste for sours and Front Range’s Sonnebahn Berliner Weisse (5% ABV) was a hit. The beer is clear with little head and is kettle soured for 10 days to give it a tart lemony and apricot taste.
While she busied herself with the Berliner Weisse, I sought sanctuary in the TrHOPical Illusion (6.5%), a dry-hopped IPA with a lingering finish of strawberry and citrus. The TrHOPical boasts an attractive color with a head that clings to the glass while the brew slips down your gullet. When you’re done, it looks like you accomplished something.
Front Range’s award winner, Piney Ridge Dunkel (5%), took home the silver at 2016’s GABF in the Munich-style dark lager category for its aroma of caramel and toffee, and a mouthful of coffee and sweet chocolate. For those looking for a lager, but not ready to give up darker flavors and roast, Piney Ridge hits the sweet spot.
Keeping with their motto, “Expand your range,” Front Range currently offers the Rocky Mountain Sherpa Robust Porter (7%), which is served on nitro and offers plenty of coffee and dark fruit in the profile; the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Chasm Lake Russian Imperial Stout (10%), dark as night with a big boozy nose and loads of vanilla, cherry and syrupy alcohol in the mouth; and the delicious Prairie Fire Helles (5.7%), beautifully golden with mountains of malt in the mouth and a touch of Saaz hops for balance.
With more rotating seasonal taps to come, my associate and I are already plotting our return. We may get our sipster cards yet.