Best of Boulder East County 2021—Drink

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Susan France

Cider and sights by the acre

East County voters applaud view, vibes, and stellar ciders at Acreage

You don’t really know what you’ve been missing until your eyes get grabbed by a magnificent Colorado sunset viewed from Acreage Ciderhouse & Eatery. The two-acre site sits on a hill in Lafayette facing west, providing a rare panorama of the Front Range and mountains and beyond. 

However, it takes much more than a patio with a view these days to win your votes for the best Place to Eat Outdoors, even though Acreage has won the vote in this category repeatedly. The past two years have permanently changed our concept of al fresco dining. It’s now a pleasure and a necessity all year round. Since almost every East Boulder County eatery now features some outdoor dining under everything from yurts to tents, our expectations are also much higher. 

No matter how you like your outside dining, Acreage fills the bill. Besides a spacious deck, a wide patio area includes fire pits, picnic tables, and rustic Adirondack chairs that are perfect for taking in the mountain backdrop.

Acreage’s cider house dishes echo the Colorado mountain lodge feel with lots of roasted, smoked, grilled comfort flavors. The menu of cider-friendly starters includes smoked almonds, frites with cider aioli, pimento cheese with lavosh crackers and house-baked soft pretzels with cheese sauce.

The substantial fall and winter big plates range from crispy pork shoulder atop grits with smoked peach BBQ sauce and crispy kale to smoke-licked salmon filet accompanied by carrots, corn, cotija cheese, and cranberry compote. 

Crowd-pleasers on the patio naturally include bratwurst with sauerkraut, sirloin steak with chimichurri sauce, cider-steamed mussels and the stellar Acreage burger with aged Cheddar cheese and smoked bacon jam. 

European cider house fare is traditionally meat-centric but Acreage delivers a bounty of vegetable  treats like plates of roasted carrots with parsnip purée, cumin yogurt and puffed lentils, and a truly dynamic taste duo: roasted beets with roasted sweet potatoes. A classic fall salad is upgraded with fire-roasted apples plus bleu cheese, candied pecans and a tart apple herb vinaigrette. 

When you walk inside Acreage past the open kitchen’s wood fires and the long bar you can glimpse the heart of the operation, the gleaming production area for Stem Ciders. Acreage is the most dramatic evidence that cider has gained more than a foothold in the self-described Silicon Valley of craft beer. Founded in Denver in 2013 as a tiny groundbreaking cidery, Stem is now a notable national cider brand. Acreage and Stem Cider have done as much as anyone in Colorado to feed the state’s expanding cider consciousness.  

That’s why it makes sense that once again the Boulder Weekly’s readers voted Acreage (and Stem Cider) as the top cidery in East Boulder County. The place attracts cider-savvy visitors to Colorado from all over the world.

If you haven’t sipped artisan ciders, they are much more varied tasting than the canned national varieties. You can sample flights of ciders that range from surprisingly dry to modestly sweet (but never cloying) including Stem’s flagship Dry, Raspberry, Pear, Hibiscus and curious favorites like the summertime fave, A Salted Cucumber cider.

It’s well worth sipping at the Ciderhouse for two reasons. First, as with ales, nothing beats sipping a cider fresh on the tap onsite. Next, the cidery is the only place you can sample some of Stem’s small-batch and experimental ciders. Consider some fall offerings such as the Cocoa Caramel apple cider infused with bittersweet cocoa. Also on tap is Guava Chile with its mild, lingering heat on the palate. Banjo cider is aged eight months in casks from Laws Whiskey House in Denver casks for eight months. There are other local connections in the Colorado Peach cider and the ale-like Fresh Hop (with Colorado-grown hops). 

There is one item that has been on the menu since Acreage opened largely because the regulars insisted upon it. The freshly fried glazed cake donuts made with Stem apple cider are so good the typical  morning pastry has become the eatery’s favorite sweet finale.

— John Lehndorff

CIDERY
Acreage Ciderhouse & Eatery

1380 Horizon Ave., Unit A, Lafayette, 720-443-3007
Longmont Winner: St. Vrain Cidery
Erie Winner: The Old Mine

PLACE TO EAT OUTDOORS
Acreage Ciderhouse & Eatery
1380 Horizon Ave., Unit A, Lafayette, 720-443-3007
Longmont Winner: The Roost
Louisville Winner: LuLu’s BBQ

BEER SELECTION AT A RESTAURANT
Longs Peak Pub & Taphouse
600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886
Louisville Winner: Lucky Pie Pizza & Taphouse
Lafayette Winner: The Post Chicken & Beer
Write-In Winner: 300 Suns
Longs Peak Pub is the Longmont outpost of the Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries family. There are 21 craft beers on tap at any given time, more than a dozen of them hand-brewed Mountain Sun ales. We like to quaff the Colorado Kind Ale or an Annapurna Amber to cool the heat of a spicy pollo asado burrito from the Mexicali-flavored portion of the menu, but the broad selection will keep your palate entertained while you move on to tossing some cornhole on the patio or talk sports with your neighbors. Hoist a pint and offer Longs Peak Pub a toast for earning this accolade from our East County readers.

COFFEE HOUSE
Ziggi’s Coffee House
Multiple locations, Longmont
Runner-Up: OZO Coffee (multiple locations)
Lafayette Winner: East Simpson Coffee
Louisville Winner: Bittersweet Cafe
Write-In Winner: Javastop
Brandon and Camrin Knudsen opened the first Ziggi’s Coffee location on the corner of 4th and Main Street in downtown Longmont in 2004, with a belief that coffee is more than a beverage, it’s a way for them to connect with their community and customers. Now, 17 years later, more than two dozen Ziggi’s locations dot the landscape from Denver to Fort Collins, but the expansion hasn’t altered the company’s connection with the Longmont community, as evidenced by their win as our readers’ choice for best coffee house in East County. Ziggi’s stated mission is “to serve a convenient and superior cup of coffee with service customers can rely on,” and we’d judge that they’ve nailed it.

COFFEE ROASTER
Ozo Coffee Company
1232-A S. Hover Road, Suite 400, Longmont, 720-600-6689
Louisville Winner: Precision Pours
Gunbarrel Winner: Ampersand Coffee
Lafayette Winner: Brewing Market Coffee
Write-In Winner: Giovannitti Coffee Roasters
The smell of a perfectly roasted coffee bean is among the most enticing scents one’s olfactory system can encounter—particularly when you’re still rubbing the sleep from your eyes and anticipating the first sip of a hot, rich cup of joe. OZO Coffee Company prides itself on sourcing ethically and sustainably grown coffee beans from around the globe, then fitting each with the perfect roasting profile to highlight their best characteristics. OZO’s roasts taste fantastic, and that’s why BW readers again voted the company the best coffee roaster in East County.

CRAFT BREWERY
Wibby Brewing
209 Emery St, Longmont, 303-776-4594
Lafayette Winner: Odd 13 Brewing
Longmont Winner: 4 Noses Brewing
Louisville Winner: 12Degree Brewing
Gunbarrel native Ryan Wibby was supposed to take over the family chemistry lab. But when a professor of his at Ithaca College in New York introduced him to the science of beer making, those plans went off the rails. The family chemistry lab would have to wait—he had fallen in love and had a brewery to start. Which, after years working in big breweries around the country, and studying under German brewing masters at VLB in Berlin, that’s exactly what he did. Today, Wibby Brewing in Longmont is slinging some of the tastiest, most finely crafted German beer in all the land. Swing by for a pint of the helles lager and you’ll realize why our readers chose them as the best brewery in East Boulder County. 

DISTILLERY
Spirit Hound
4196 Ute Hwy, Lyons, 303-823-5696
Longmont Winner: Dry Land Distillers
East Boulder Winner: Ska Street Brewstillery
Write-In Winner: Copper Sky Distillery
The first all-malt 100% Colorado whiskey rolled out of Spirit Hound Distillery in Lyons in 2015, and the owners have never looked back. Matt, Craig, Wayne and Neil came together over a common love for good, craft whiskey, a passion for all things Colorado and a strong desire to distill. The result? A whiskey made from barley grown and malted in Alamosa, Colorado, cut with Rocky Mountain water, that tastes every bit as good as the creators intended. Spirit Hound in Longmont isn’t just slinging delicious craft whiskey, though; their tasting room is a casual and comfortable place to kick back and enjoy all the Spirit Hounds spirits—from their whiskey, to their gin, their rum, and even their sambuca. 

HAPPY HOUR
Jefe’s Tacos
246 Main St, Longmont, 303-827-3790
Lafayette Winner: 95A Bistro
Louisville Winner: /pôr/ Wine House
Write-In Winner: Piripi
A great happy hour is never something to be taken for granted. Especially when it’s at a delicious modern taqueria, serving quality margaritas, with over 100 tequilas and mezcals, and mouthwatering street tacos. Jefe’s Tacos in Longmont has happy hour, every day from 3 to 5 p.m. offering exactly that—and it’s worth driving to check out no matter where you’re coming from in Boulder County. 

LATTE/MOCHA
Ozo Coffee Company
Multiple Locations
Longmont Winner: Ziggi’s Coffee
Lafayette Winner: East Simpson Coffee
Louisville Winner: Bittersweet
Write-In Winner: The Read Queen
They ethically source their coffee directly from heritage coffee growers in South America. They cultivate community relationships among international coffee businesses, across coffee producing regions, and right here in Boulder County in their cafés. And, of course, Ozo Coffee Company makes some mean lattes and mochas. Their ingredients are fresh, their coffee comes straight from the source, their baristas are always happy to see you and knowledgeable about their coffee, and the vibe is worth hanging out to savor, drink in hand.

MARGARITA
Jefe’s Tacos
246 Main St, Longmont, 303-827-3790
Lafayette Winner: Teocalli Cocina
Louisville Winner: LuLu’s BBQ

If you’re looking for a good place to enjoy fine margaritas chased with delicious street tacos, look no further than Jefe’s Tacos in Longmont. Their margaritas are legendary for their masterful simplicity: Blanco Tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice, a splash of house simple and a lot of love. The result? The best margarita in East Boulder County, according to our readers.  

TEAHOUSE
The Huckleberry
700 Main St., Louisville, 303-666-8020
Longmont Winner: Javastop
Lyons Winner: The Stone Cup
Write-In Winner: The Read Queen
The choice for the top teahouse in East Boulder County was always obvious: Celestial Seasonings. When the homegrown tea tour and gift shop was shuttered, tea lovers didn’t have to roam very far to find a new favorite place for a cuppa. Known best as a brunchery, the Louisville restaurant is owned by the same folks who operate the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. That’s why it has always been known for properly serving black, green and white teas as well as herbal teas, more properly labelled tissanes, With a front display case jammed with all manner of desserts and pastries, there’s always something special to enjoy along with your Darjeeling. True afternoon tea is served at The Huckleberry—with reservations.

WINE SELECTION
/pôr/ Wine House
701 Main St., Louisville, 720-666-1386
Longmont Winner: Sugarbeet
Erie Winner: Piripi
It’s not just that Louisville’s /pôr/ Wine House boasts a huge list of white, red, rose and sparkling wines—this is the place with the knowledge and service and food to make learning about wine an absolute pleasure. The best way to find what you like in, say, white wines, is to sip them side-by-side in a flight of three wines at Por: Butternut California Chardonnay, Gazzera Sicilian Pinot Grigio, and Tara-Rua New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The tapas menu of bacon-wrapped dates, blistered shishitos, dolmas and meatballs make an ideal pairing with a bottle or a glass.