Let’s hear it for those City Star Workers,” The Stanleytones singer said to a packed house last Saturday night, and the people obliged the man behind the banjo. They were a delightfully pleasant bunch, 50 or so locals who came out on this frigid January evening to listen to some live bluegrass and enjoy a pint or three. One couple even got up and danced, which many people stood by and politely watched, waiting for the exuberant couple to dance their way away from the bathroom door they were blocking.
If this was a bar in Denver, Boulder or even Fort Collins, there is no doubt that an impatient patron would have rudely interrupted the couple’s clogging to relieve themselves, but up here in Berthoud, the people are a little more relaxed and a little more hospitable. And thank goodness for that because it was Saturday night and there wasn’t a seat to be had. The Stanleytones had just gotten warm and no one was clearing out anytime soon. The bartender took pity on us and cleared her dinner from a table in the back and allowed us to take up residence next to the walk-in cooler — which featured a photo of a glaring Christopher Walken with the caption: “Close the Walken!” We were right at home.
As my associate poked her way through City Star’s collection of board games, I procured the brews for the evening: 10 samples of City Star’s offerings: five mainstays — Cowboy’s Golden (5% ABV), Local Yokel pale ale (6%), All American IPA (6.5%), Red Necktar (6.5%) and Bandit Brown (5.5%); and five seasonals — Night Watchman (6%), Raspberry Bandit (6%), Chai Watchman (6%), Mule Kick (9%) and Widowmaker (11.5%).
Red Necktar and Bandit Brown are standouts, but it’s those dark delicious seasonals that make City Star worth the trip. The Night Watchman stout has less heft and more bouquet, which favors dark chocolate and coffee in a delightful aroma that smells a little like a Christmas dessert, while the Chai Watchman ups the ante with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and a whole lot of vanilla beans. That’s quite a punch in one glass. Ditto for Mule Kick, a strong ale brewed with Colorado wildflower honey that hybrids the best qualities of beer and wine into one deliciously dark draught.
After we finished our flights and a few rounds of Scruples, we decided to hit the dusty trail, but not before a visit to the facilities. There, in the hallway adjacent to the bar, are a series of historical photographs of Berthoud throughout the years. While we admired a bird’s eye view of the town, a local approached us and asked if we were out-of-towners and gave us a couple of suggestions of which bars to drink at and where we could sleep it off. As she bid us good luck and returned to the stomp and twag of the music, I made a decision right then and there: next time, I’m bringing cowboy boots.
On tap: City Star Brewing. 321 Mountain Ave., Berthoud, 970-532-7827, citystarbrewing.com.