Barrels & Bottles is a unique craft brewery located just south of the Coors facility in downtown Golden, CO (literally across the street). While most of the country knows about Golden because Coors is located there, the small city with a population under 20,000 has become a hot spot for craft beer enthusiasts. Golden is a short 15-20 minute drive to Downtown Denver, but it has the feel of a small Colorado mountain town. Barrels & Bottles is one of a handful of craft breweries in Golden, and they bring a unique flavor to the local craft beer scene.
History of Barrels & Bottles
Zach and Abby George opened Barrels & Bottles in September, 2013. The idea to open a brewery came when the couple backpacked through Europe and fell in love with the beer and food. Zach was in the Marines, while Abby worked for the government. They thought it would be fun to work for themselves, and originally the couple planned to look into a 5-year plan on starting a brewery.
The original 5-year plan changed and Zach and Abby decided they wanted to open a bottle shop. The intent was to supply a wide selection of bottled craft beer that could be purchased and consumed on site. Due to some of the state laws, they could not do that. With the laws in place that would prevent the bottle shop from being a viable option, Zach and Abby’s 5-year brewery plan became their immediate plan.
They wanted to find a niche that made them unique to the beer scene. The motto at Barrels & Bottles is “why not” when thinking of ideas to make them different than some of the other breweries. One idea was to allow people to bring food in, or buy food from their own kitchen. This approach led to families bringing dinner so they can enjoy a family dinner while having a fresh local beer. They also include a selection of wine, and a really unique feature – wine slushies. I didn’t try a wine slushy, but I have heard great things from friends that have enjoyed a wine slushy at Barrels & Bottles. The selection of wine is pretty impressive for anyone that prefers wine over beer. While I didn’t try any wine, I did try a roast beef sandwich from the kitchen, and it was the perfect compliment to the beer samples.
Due to the open nature of their taproom, many people can come and have good time, even if they don’t like beer. They can enjoy wine, or there are many options for non-alcoholic drinks. The tables are European style where it encourages visitors to interact and have discussions, rather than sit by themselves. Guests range from ages 21-60s, and sometimes even 70s. Weekends can get pretty full with groups on bikes, so don’t be surprised to see a full house. There is some good news – as of last week, Barrels & Bottles is now open 7 days a week.
Head Brewer Kim Collins
Having a woman as Head Brewer is another aspect of Barrels & Bottles that makes them unique to the Colorado craft beer scene. Kim Collins is the head brewer, and a very talented one at that. Kim enjoys brewing many different styles of beer, and is always looking to try something new. She relocated to Colorado from Indiana for the opportunity to be in the beer industry. Tommyknocker Brewery took her in as an apprentice, and eventually Kim was brought on full-time. After that she worked for Boulder Beer full-time for about 5 months, but it was a long commute. Next Kim got an opportunity to join Epic Brewing, where she brewed for about 8 months. Zach & Abby George attend Epic’s soft opening, where they met Kim. The trio formed a friendship, and Kim began helping Zach & Abby when they needed help with their beer. Kim loved the people, and the opportunity to brew at Epic, but she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work full-time with Barrels & Bottles. It was a difficult decision to leave Epic, but Barrels & Bottles offered the opportunity to be a head brewer, and work close to home. Below is a picture of Kim holding a growler.
Barrels & Bottles, and Head Brewer Kim Collins embrace creativity and the idea of pushing the boundaries of traditional beer styles. While they enjoy trying new beers, they also have seasonal beers that are popular that time of year. The taps are set so the styles are balanced to fit beer drinkers that enjoy different types of beer. A cool thing about Barrels & Bottles is they include guest taps. If Barrels & Bottles doesn’t have their own IPA or Pale Ale on tap, they will normally have an IPA or Pale Ale from another local brewery available. They rotate through their taps frequently so that each visit you’ll have different options to try something new. Barrels & Bottles normally has 6-8 taps of their own beer and 10-12 guest taps. If you would like to purchase their beer, you can do so with a 32 or 64 ounce growler. The only way to enjoy Barrels & Bottles beer is to visit the taproom – they don’t sell their beer anywhere else. Below are the beers that were available for my visit. Keep in mind this list will change often.
- Sinful Coffee Stout: Malty, balanced hoppy flavor, hints dried fruit. Made with coffee from local coffee roaster, Pangea Roasters.
- Sure Thing IPA: Citrusy taste with hint of grapefruit. I was not able to try the IPA, but it is a favorite of the Barrels & Bottles visitors.
- Big Lebeerskie: Rich, Chocolaty with creaminess from milk sugar.
- Pixie’s Stout: Named after the family dog. Full body aged with oak chips for two months. Has a subtle oakey flavor, but is lighter than most aged beers.
- Billy Branch Brown Ale: Brown Ale with a Cider Blend. It has the taste of a cider with some maltyness from a brown ale.
- Tequila Serendip Saisan: This one is really unique, as Kim used a tequila barrel. The beer has the taste of a margarita. The original beer went from a 6% to an 8% saison after barrel aging.
I had a great time visiting with Zach, Abby and Kim. Barrels & Bottles Brewery is a fun place to visit, and offers a unique experience to anyone that enjoys local craft beer, wine, or simply having a conversation in a laid-back atmosphere. I was really impressed with the level of creativity of the beer, and the open nature of the taproom. Barrels & Bottles offers an opportunity to bring together a diverse group because they have so many options for beverages, as well as a full kitchen for the lunch or dinner crowd. If you have not been to Barrels & Bottles, I would highly recommend making your first trip soon.
Barrels & Bottles Brewery
600 12th St #160
Golden, CO 80401