For Colorado beer drinkers, this is the golden age.
The states 100-plus breweries offer enough aggressive IPAs, comforting porters and succulent saisons to make sure no one gets bored.
Towns of less than 1,000 people support their own breweries. The residents even elected a brewpub owner as governor.
All this has made Colorado, as Gov. John Hickenlooper likes to say, the Napa Valley of beer.
But, unlike Napa Valley, Colorado was lacking something: a travel guide.
Denver author Ed Sealover set out to change that. Two years ago, he and his wife, Denise, began visiting every one of the states brewpubs, interviewing the brewers and soaking in the local culture.
The result is Mountain Brew: A Guide to Colorados Breweries, published this summer by The History Press.
The book delves into the history and culture of each and every brewery from the massive Coors to the tiny Silverton Brewery that was open as of this spring. The microbrew craze is growing so fast that a few breweries have opened since the book came out.
Its a guide for the curious or casual traveler, not a hard-core beer geeks look at the brewing process. Dont look for a dissertation on, say, the relative merits of Pagosa Brewings Poor Richards Ale versus Skas Buster Nut Brown.
Sealover organizes the book into 10 categories, highlighting Pioneer Breweries (including Carver Brewing Co. and Durango Brewing Co.), Downtown Saviors and Experimental Breweries. One brewery in each category gets an extended write-up, and every other one gets a page or two.
Southwest Colorado Breweries dominate a chapter Sealover named They Have A Brewery in This Town? Ridgways Colorado Boy Pub and Brewery leads the chapter, which also includes the breweries in Dolores, Ouray and Silverton.
Ska Brewing Co. gets a seven-page lead spot in the Undefinable Breweries chapter.
Sealover, a reporter for the Denver Business Journal, serves as the unofficial Beer Geek-in-Chief of the state Capitol press corps (a group that includes the writer of this article).
His background as a business reporter is obvious throughout the book. He notes the downtown revivals that brewpubs often spark in small towns, yet he also captures the quirky, unpolished character of many of the movers and shakers in Colorado brewing.
Take, for example, the interview with James Paul Hutchinson, owner of the Ourayle House Brewery in Ouray. When Hutch was about to open his place, he brought his parents in for a visit. After his mom and dad said it seemed like the kind of place they could hang out, he promptly took a hammer to the bar.
He also admitted to trading growlers for meat from an elk his friend cleaned off the road.
I traded beer for roadkill. Im officially mountain trash, Hutch told Sealover.
Like many microbrewers, hes in the business for love, and not so much the money.
If I wanted to make more, Id probably work more. But thats a theory Im not willing to try out yet, Hutch told Sealover.