Tour de Brew: Pumphouse Brewery

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Sue France
Pumphouse Brewery bartender Caitlin King

Where you drink is just as important as what you drink. I once advised my sister to always survey the crowd when she entered an unfamiliar watering hole; if everyone in the bar is drinking Bud Light, you drink Bud Light too. Even if they have Fat Tire or Stella Artois on tap, drink Bud Light. Why? Because you can be fairly sure that the Bud will at least be fresh. Who the hell knows how long that Fat Tire has been sitting in the tap line?

That modus operandi holds especially true at sports bars. Though most offer a plethora of local craft beers on tap, they all seem to taste a little off. Maybe the keg has been sitting around too long, maybe the line hasn’t been cleaned recently, or maybe there is too much soap residue on the glass. Whatever the reason, the beer simply isn’t what it should be.

Thankfully, the Pumphouse Brewery in Longmont solves that dilemma. Here is a sports bar where the local craft is what everyone is quaffing.

Originally opened as a single-unit brewpub in 1996 by Craig Taylor, Tom Charles, Dave D’Epagnier and Dennis Coombs, Pumphouse offered food and a couple of craft brews inspired by the governing firehouse theme: Red Alert Amber and Wildfire Wheat. In 2004, Pumphouse turned the adjoining annex into the Red Zone, a sports bar loaded to the gills with TVs, heaping plates of food and more beers than you can shake a stick at.

Both the Red Alert Amber (5.7 percent alcohol by volume) and Wildfire Wheat (5 percent) are still available for your drinking pleasure, though you might want to wait for cooler temperatures before diving into Red Alert. With plenty of roasted malts and caramel, this beer tastes like fall and it’s anything but outside.

For summer drinking, Pumphouse has plenty to quench your thirst, particularly the Old World Pilsner (4.8 percent), an unfiltered lager with more body than you might expect from your everyday pils. That unfiltered quality not only contributes a cloudy look but also dulls the sharp metallic edge that puts my friend off to the world of pale lagers.

The other benefit is the pilsner’s low alcohol content, making it a perfect beer for day drinking — or the more commercially acceptable term: sessionablity. Same goes for Pumphouse’s Turning Point (4.1 percent), a session IPA that is subdued, tamed and just the sort of beer you can quaff while watching a baseball game and still remember who won the next day.

My favorite was the Petite Buckwheat Saison (5.1 percent), a yeast-forward brew that has the aroma of European whole-grain bread with a distinct spice and fruit midway down the palate.

My friend found her way back to the Wildfire and its fruity cousin, Raspberry Wildfire (5 percent), relieved she wasn’t stuck inside another microbrew garage drinking “boot leather and thistle-flavored beer.”

Boot leather and thistle-flavor certainly have their time and place, but for those looking for well-made, properly served craft beer in a sports bar, Pumphouse is the place to be. 

Pumphouse Brewery. 540 Main St., Longmont, 303-702-0881,
pumphousebrewery.com.