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Reviews on PubCrawler from magnus mcdowell
Other Reviews by this User
December 18, 2014 @ 01:33 AM EDT
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Reviews By
magnus mcdowell

Beer Reviews

Restaurant Reviews


Beer Reviews from magnus mcdowell
Average Rating
Beer Quality
Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Good Great

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Great Good Good

Establishment: Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza and Brewery, Colorado Springs, CO

To call Il Vicino a brewery seems a bit odd. At the time of my visit (7/4/05), they brewed on premises but had their stuff bottled by Bristol. This really felt like a quick-serve pizza joint that happened to have beer. It really wasn't a great place to hang out and enjoy a few pints. That being said, the food and 'za were both pretty good.

I thought the Amber (5 out of 5) was their best offering. It had a very interesting ripe-fruit aroma and was very flavorful. It was quite a bit more hoppy than I expected from an Amber. I'd peg the IPA (4/5) as the next best offering. The hoppy aroma was disappointingly faint, but otherwise the beer was enjoyable to drink. The Irish, Porter, and Brown (3/5) were also very drinkable. The Blonde kind of stunk, however (2/5). It had a very, very faint hop aroma and almost no flavor. I know many places try to put one offering on the tap that appeals to your Bud or Miller crowd, but I don't really respect that.

All in all, the place is worth checking out if you want to have some decent beers with some pretty good pizza, but I wouldn't expect to have a great time hanging out.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good Good So So Good

Establishment: Judge Baldwin's Brewing Company, Colorado Springs, CO

Judge Baldwin's came recommended to my wife and me by several folks at various brewpubs/breweries in the Colorado Springs area. If I recall from our visit (7/3/05), they did not brew on premises, which was not surprising considering they were attached to a hotel. There were 7 beers on tap at the time of my visit. I've read some other reviews that stated disappointment of Judge Baldwin's, but I found a couple of beers that were quite good. The food was "eh" and the service kind of sucked.

The Flanders Oud Bruin (5 out of 5) was a mild nut brown that finished with a mild scotch flavor that I found quite good. It had a complex aroma. I also enjoyed the Belgian Biere de Goude (4/5), which was unfiltered, light in color, had a faint floral aroma, and which exhibited a bitter, citrusy flavor at first that finished with a slight, malty aftertaste. The Famous American Brown Porter (4/5) had a pretty good malty smell and a sharp, but enjoyable malty flavor. It wasn't nearly as dark as most porters.

Baldwin's also served Munich Pilsner (3.5) with an unexpected (and not enjoyed) banana flavor but with an otherwise enjoyable, nutty aftertaste, Champion Wheat (3/5 - not very distinctive as far as wheat's go), and Raspberry Wheat (3/5 - sharp raspberry aroma but lacking in raspberry flavor).


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great N/A Great Great

Establishment: Bristol Brewing Company, Colorado Springs, CO

My wife and I debated whether or not we wanted to even visit Bristol. We'd already hit several brewpubs and breweries in Colorado Springs and were, frankly, quite toasted already and weren't sure we wanted or needed any more beer. We decided to let go of our skirts and stop in anyway. Good decision.

Bristol had about 10 beers on tap at the time of our visit (7/2/05). This place was really an extended tasting room off the brewery that almost had a bar feel to it. There was quite a bit of traffic from folks looking to pick-up beer (lots of cyclists - which is very odd to us Minnesotans), which told us that this place was certainly a local favorite. The staff were very friendly and helpful and we found the dog-dishes filled with pretzels to be amusing. But on to the beer...

I didn't quite rate any of the beers with 5 out of 5, but that is pretty rare anyway. That being said, I found a couple of 4.5/5 (yeah, what a pussy I am - I can't commit to anything). My two favorites were Beehive (4.5/5 - my wife described it, "tastes like 'a good day at the brewery' smell" - I'm not sure what that means, but I seconded the thought) and Laughing Lab (4.5/5 - had a great mix of hoppy and grainy aromas).

Other favorites (4/5) included Small Beer (2nd boil of a barley wine, tasted much hoppier than the 34 IBU's indicated), New World IPA (big IPA but not too overpowering), and Edge City IPA (yeah, these folks like their hops).

The Mass Transit (3/5) was smooth but lacked in flavor. Red Rocket (3.5/5) had a pleasant hoppy flavor but, again, was a little light on the flavor. Old 23 (unrated for some reason) was a 57 IBU (I think - my notes are smuged) barley wine which, to me, wasn't quite as sharp and overpowering as many barley wines are. Old World IPA (2/5) was a bit too overpowering on the hop side. For some reason, I have no notes on the Nitro IPA.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Awesome! Good Great Great

Establishment: Phantom Canyon Brewing Company, Colorado Springs, CO

This was the first stop the first brewery tour vacation for my and I in Colorado, and it was a great place to start. Phantom Canyon is a large establishment (two-stories, if I recall) and, by all accounts, a great place to hang-out. In addition to a great beer selection, the food was pretty good, service was great, and the place had plenty of pool tables and patio seating.

But enough mindless drivel. On to the beer! On the day of our visit (7/2/05), Phantom Canyon had on tap 11 different brews (well, 10 actually as they were out of Cascade Amber - but I did see someone wheel a keg of it away while we were there). I didn't rate any of them higher than 4 out of 5, but then again, I don't rate many beers 5/5. My favorites were the Railyard Ale (4/5), Pikes Peak or Bust Brown Ale (4/5), Hefeweizen (4/5), and Zebulon's Peated Porter (4/5). Zebulon's was the most notable of Phantom's beer in that it had a remarkable smokey flavor and very smooth mouth-feel. Unfortunately, there wasn't any aroma to speak of.

Other beers which I rated in the 2.5 to 3.5 range included Queen's Blonde Ale (3/5), Antioxidant Ale (2.5/5 - had a strong ginger flavor but no aroma), Pinhead Ale (3.5/5 - a mix b/n an amber and an IPA), and Sierra Madre Stout (3/5 - great mouth-feel).

I didn't care much for the Demolition Cream Ale (1.5/5 - it was a bit too sharp on the tongue) or the Phantom IPA (2/5 - no smell, which is a crime when it comes to IPA's, and it was too bitter - shame on me on this point, I guess).

All in all, a pretty good establishment. Any place that is willing to roll out so many different brews at a time and is willing to take some risks is well worth the visit.



Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Good N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Arctic Craft Brewery, Colorado Springs, CO

Arctic Craft was a bit tricky to find, given that the location at the time of our visit (7/05) it was in a small light-industrial complex. Despite the difficulty my wife and I had in finding the place, the visit was well worth it. Our visit was a notable day in Arctic Craft's history; it coincided with the purchase of the first several pairs of rubber boots for the brewery by Tom - a heretofor unseen comfort at this small brewery. The mood was...well, not euphoric, but close.

John, the heart and soul of the brewery, impressed us with not only his passion for beer and beer making, but with his interest in yeast cultivation. Here is a man who has taken his passion for brewing to a level that many brewers with whom we have spoken have not.

John's passion for brewing was revealed in the quality of his beer. My personal favorite was a beer that was, at the time, unnamed as of yet. Arctic Craft had co-brewed, if you will, with the other breweries in Colorado Springs a concoction named Warning Signs. If I recall, it was a bring-an-ingredient-to-include-in-our-monster-beer concoction. The snappy tag-line for this beer was, "This has sack, if you don't." Great beer. I gave it 4 out of 5 thumbs, stars, votes, pints, whatever. Warning Signs was the base for the beer that I felt was my favorite at Arctic Craft. John brewed an off-shoot of Warning Signs in which he used one of his own yeast strains. This off-shoot was about 12% ABV. It tasted just like Scotch. I gave it 5 out of 5.

Another favorite of mine and my wife was the Northern Light (5/5). This pale-colored beer included vanilla as one of its ingredients which came through subtley.

Arctic Craft also served us two versions of the Honey Brown (3/5 for the version with honey extract and 4/5 for the version using natural honey) which had wonderful floral aromas. The natural honey version was very redolent of mead.

We also sampled Arctic Craft's Red Fox (raspberry 3/5 - very tart), White Fox Wheat (3/5), Snow Shoe Brown Ale, Arctic Amber, and Summer Sun Blonde.

I highly recommend exploring Arctic Craft's beer if/when you have a chance to visit Colorado Springs.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Good Great Great

Establishment: Jaxon's Restaurant and Brewing Company, El Paso, TX

Wasn't expecting this good of a brewpub in El Paso. They had a pretty good selection of beer and I didn't have one I didn't enjoy.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good N/A N/A Good

Establishment: Redhook Forecasters, Woodinville, WA

I've been a Redhook fan for quite a while, so I was really looking forward to the tour. Drove up and was really impressed. It is a great looking brewery. Unfortunately, the tour sucked. Watched a damn video. Nonetheless, really enjoyed the beer. They served their Blackhook w/ nitro and it was great.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Good N/A N/A Awesome!

Establishment: Mac and Jack's Brewery, Redmond, WA

My only problem with Mac & Jack's is that I can't get it in MN. The amber is pretty good, but the hefe is hands-down the best hefe I've ever had. The tour isn't extensive (small joint), but man, the beer is great.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! Good Good Awesome!

Establishment: Rockies Brewing Company, Boulder, CO

This is one of my favorite breweries. They make some damn good beer (esp. Singletrack!) and they have a good selection of stuff. They also make some pretty interesting beers. If you're a hop fanatic, you'll like much of what they make (Hazed & Infused will knock your socks off). It isn't a big place, but the tour is quite fun. Even got a chance to try one their beers (Neverwinter Ale) right out of the fermentation tanks.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good N/A N/A Awesome!

Establishment: New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO

This is a classy brewery. I don't care much for Belgian style beers, but this place is a must see. These folks really know their stuff and the tour experience is one of the best I've had. I highly recommend stopping by, even if it is out of your way.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Awesome! Good Great

Establishment: ThirstyBear Brewing Company, San Francisco, CA

I like this place. It's a bit too trendy for me, but I enjoyed the beers and the food (Spanish tapas) was great. I've never seen the place with a huge crowd, so you can usually expect to enjoy your beer/food without an overwhelming hub-bub.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good So So Good Good

Establishment: San Francisco Brewing Company, San Francisco, CA

Interesting set-up, but not very open and can't accomodate big crowds very well. Thought the beer was pretty good. Food is typical bar-type food - ain't gonna knock your socks off. Almost had a historic feel (check out the ceiling fans).


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Awesome! N/A So So Good

Establishment: Papago Brewing, Scottsdale, AZ

Fabulous selection of beers, both domestic and imported. Papago beer was pretty tasty as well. Atmosphere was laid-back. Don't expect trendy crowds (that's a good thing, folks) or a fancy establishment (that's good as well). This is a serious beer drinker's establishment.


Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Good Great Good

Establishment: Four Peaks Brewing Company, Tempe, AZ

First and foremost, the beer was pretty damn good. The Kiltlifter is their most popular brew, but not the best beer they make. Place can get crowded, but service remains pretty good. Only had appetizers, but they were pretty good as well. Hard to get to and find parking.


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