Rocky Mountain Brewery, situated on corner of a T-intersection with a bright yellow food cart (B'z BBQ Company) helping to define one side to the twinkly light strewn outdoor patio, was the one spot of activity in an otherwise empty area on Saturday afternoon. Entering the metal sided blue building, the interior was VFW-esque with a beer menu boasting some very non-VFW-esque beers.
The one that caught my eye was named "Eat a Peach" so I asked the beertender, who turned out to be one of the owners and named Duane, what he could tell me about it. His answer was that it was just like eating peach cobbler. A fellow drinker added that it was a World Beer Cup winner (Gold in 2012). I took both of those as good indicators and ordered up a half pint. The words "liquid peach cobbler" really don't do it justice and if I could offer smell-o-vision, this would be the perfect place to use it. Yes, it was a sweet beer and one you wouldn't want to drink pint after pint of, but it was also so good that I'd implore you to try it if you have the chance.
Another sweet one from the line up of nine beers was their Yellow Apple Cyder. It was not as carbonated as I would have expected, which might help cut some of the upfront sweetness, but thankfully finished a bit drier. Like Eat a Peach, a half pint shared between the four of us was enough to satisfy our curiosity.
Moving past the sweet offerings, I was intrigued by the Szechuan Porter, which was only being offered in 4-oz pours. Duane described it as having all of the flavors of a Szechuan sauce, without the salt. Sure enough there was a smoky heat to it along with ginger flavor and although it wasn't one I'd pick to drink on its own, I think it would be outstanding with pot stickers.
Once we had made our way through their offerings, half pint by half pint, we headed south to our final destination - Kraft Beer/Smiling Toad Brewery. It wasn't hard to find, a small building surrounded by an asphalt moat and adjacent to an auto repair shop. In the bright of the afternoon it wasn't clear if they were open but we found the door unlocked and a couple of patrons inside.
The chalkboard beer menu announced six beers on tap and for our first round we decided to hold off on the wheat and blonde, starting with Green's ESB, Jumbe Porter, Erroneous IPA and Mat's Green Fiend IPA (which at 8.2% ABV is technically a DIPA), which we took out tot the small side patio. The Erroneous was the stanky kind of IPA I enjoy the most and my favorite of the first round. Ordering up the wheat and blonde next, I was taken by surprise at how much I enjoyed the fully flavored Spring Blonde.
In addition to tasting our way through the beers we also had a chance to talk to Biff, the new owner. He explained that he had bought Kraft Beer earlier in the year and just received the license a couple weeks ago that would officially change the name to Smiling Toad, thus explaining the disconnect between the interior and exterior signage.
After enjoying our pints we went inside to deposit the empty glasses before departing and were intercepted by Biff, insisting we try the Lavender Lager. The IPA I'd enjoyed so much had just blown and the lager was being put on in its place. Curious, I took a whiff and was rewarded with a floral lavender aroma that was followed by a light and slightly sour taste. The pale, unfiltered beer wasn't much to look at but I was impressed with Smiling Toad's twist on a California lager.
A long day behind us, it was time to head back to the hotel for dinner and to finish off the remaining beers we had picked up at the liquor store the first day. The final drinking day of our trip had started off with a fizzle but it ended with an explosion of flavors at two, off-the-beaten-path breweries that we found out were well worth seeking out.