Craft brew guru and author Ed Sealover is the guy you want to have a tall frosty one with at the bar.
Just be ready beforehand, or afterward, to go and visit a historical site or have an outdoor adventure.
That is the premise of Sealover’s latest beer guide, “Colorado Excursions with History, Hikes and Hops.” He introduced the book during a beer-tasting event at The Farm Bistro, with Mancos Brewing Co. providing a fine selection of their craft brews.
When Sealover is not working as a reporter for the Denver Business Journal, the beer connoisseur spends time touring back roads for forgotten monuments or secret hikes, planning them around a visit to any one of the state’s 350 craft breweries, up from 101 in 2011.
His philosophy embodies the modern Colorado ethic that most everything we do in our free time leads up to a tasty craft beer, or leads to adventures after we enjoy a specialty pint.
“I love history, craft beer and getting outside, and I want people to follow along and use my book as an inspiration to find their own path,” he told a crowd of about 25 beer enthusiasts on May 16.
The book examines 17 breweries, a few wineries and distilleries and a craft beer resort, then wraps them around 10, three-day trips, encouraging readers to visit historical places and work up a thirst on a hike or float down a river.
For example, readers will learn where to go on a short hike to stand behind Zapata Falls waterfall near the Great Sand Dunes – then have a beer at the Three-Barrel Brewery in nearby Del Norte, famous for its Trashy Blonde ale.
“It is also well known for sought-after tart beers,” Sealover said. “Three Barrel is a pseudo-secret brewery more well-known than its hometown.”
Or head to Lake City explore the famous Alferd Packer trail, the site of Colorado’s famous cannibalism case in 1874. Afterward, visit the newly opened Lake City Brewing Co., and over a Slumgullion stout, contemplate the struggles of being stranded and desperately hungry in the mountains in one of the most remote areas of the Lower 48.
“The story goes he either killed them and ate them, or they died ,and then he ate them,” Sealover said of Packer’s companions. “At the local museum, you can see the shackles he wore” after being arrested.
Another life-affirming trip suggested in the book is a visit to the Museum of Prisons in Cañon City, showing how “Colorado was a lawless society” early on. The museum used to be a women’s prison that was shut down in 1978, and visitors can view the gas chamber “where eight people were executed,” Sealover said.
Afterward, appreciate your freedom and drive a few miles to the historic Walter Brewing Co. in Pueblo, one of the last independent breweries to survive consolidation in the beer industry from 1940s to 1970s. It closed in 1975, but it has reopened into a craft brewery that makes a beer infused with Pueblo chiles and also brews up pre-Prohibition recipes.
Sealover said an important trend in the craft brew industry is a shift from bottling and distribution to try and reach a national market, to simpler neighborhood breweries. The Revolution Brewery in Paonia “has become a community center where everyone gathers before and after high school football games.” Newer small pubs like WildEdge Brewing Collective in Cortez, or Mancos Brewing Co. “serves locals and tourists” from the tap.
“The most profits come from serving a beer from the tap,” Sealover said. “The model is not to take over the world anymore. The smaller craft brew scene is reshaping our communities and neighborhoods, and that is a good thing.”
Sealover also wrote “Mountain Brew: A Guide to Colorado Breweries,” and writes a blog called Beer Run.