What does it take to open a successful brewery in the Centennial State? Identity? Specificity? Money? All of the above or just one? On a recent expedition to a new brewery — which will remain unnamed here except to say it was definitely not Vision Quest — my associate and I decided to try a brewery sight unseen, only to have our hopes dashed at first sip. The tap list was extensive but what ended up in the glass was lackluster. About halfway down her saison, my associate wondered if she was drinking a Budweiser. Not exactly what we were hoping for.
Lack of funding was certainly not the issue, as the brewery was large and contained all the makings of a craft brewery — tanks, taps, chairs, a long bar top and a couple of couches — but the overall aesthetic was sterile. It wasn’t apparent at first, but the brewery had no character, no identity, and that was painfully clear in their pints.
So what was this brewery missing? That answer came easily to my bartender at Vision Quest Brewing Co.
“Too many breweries forget there’s beer underneath,” he said.
I couldn’t agree more. Space should be welcoming, communal and, hopefully, clean, but if the beers no good, then who cares? And at Vision Quest, the beer is damn good.
Vision Quest is Adam Kandle, Greg Foley and Greg Kallfa — who also own the Boulder Fermentation Supply retail shop next door — moving from home brewing to commercial exhibition. If there was any concern that because they were stepping out they might lose some of their homegrown swagger, worry not. Located in an industrial park off of 47th & Pearl, Vision Quest is as relaxed as it is eclectic. There’s a piano tucked away next to the bathroom, tables and chairs are shoved into a corner for when you bring a large party, a small annex is packed with pinball and arcade games and the garage shares space with Boulder Fermenting Supply in case Vision Quest inspires you to try your hand at your own brews.
And while Vision Quest’s space is welcoming and casual, it’s what Vision Quest serves that signifies signature and identity. Their two best brews currently available are the Coconut IPA (5.5% ABV) and the C Keller (6.5%) — a smoked amber lager, unlike anything I’ve had before.
The Coconut IPA delivers exactly what it promises, loads and loads of chewy coconut, which harmonizes with the citrus quality of the IPA. Coconut tends to find it’s way into plenty of porters and stouts around town, but after one sip of Vision Quests’s IPA, it’s a wonder why more breweries don’t try it.
C Keller is a step in the exact opposite direction. Produced with smoked peat malt, which brings a smoky, savory, briny quality to the lager, it is worth the trip to Vision Quest alone.
The C Keller is much like the Nelson Sauvignon (6%) — the Brett Saison aged for one and half years with Sauvignon blanc must — both build slowly in the glass, improving with each sip as you surrender yourself to the brew. Take a similar approach when you enter Vision Quest. It may be a little off-putting at first but hang with it. By the time you leave, you’ll be itching to come back for more.