5 Questions with Telluride Brewing on Their New Brewpub & Taqueria
Nestled in a picturesque box canyon and scored seasonally by lush green cliffs or powder-capped mountain tops, Telluride, CO is a magical resort town that remains one of the most scenic destinations in the state.
Despite the world-class skiing, a multitude of festivals that used to fill its lodging capacity every summer and Bridal Veil Falls, a dramatic 365-foot waterfall that is fully visible from downtown, the town still exudes a relative quaintness due to its remote location–unlike other resort towns like Breckenridge, Aspen and Vail.
Similarly, Telluride Brewing Co., which was founded in 2011, is highly adored and respected by those familiar with the industry while still flying relatively under the radar. Long revered for its signature Facedown Brown and more recently gaining steam for their continued work in hop-forward beers, Telluride Brewing is now on the cusp of its next evolutionary phase.
The brewery itself has long operated almost wholly on the packaged distribution model. Their taproom, a modest walk-up bar at the base of their teeming brewhouse, offers no actual on-site seating so anyone who has previously visited the destination brewery has become familiar with popping a squat on the street side curb or claiming one of the limited picnic tables nearby.
But all of that is about to change. Telluride Brewing recently announced that it would be opening a brewpub and taqueria in Mountain Village Plaza at the base of the legendary Telluride Ski Resort. And while COVID restrictions have delayed the second taproom location from fully opening its doors to the public for on-site consumption, they have begun selling beer and tacos to enjoy outdoors in the plaza. We caught up with Telluride Brewing co-founder Tommy Thatcher to chat about the momentous occasion.
PD: What took you all this long to open a traditional taproom space?
Tommy Thatcher: It’s certainly a crazy time to be opening something, but we’re excited by all of the support. The Mountain Village plaza is open consumption so it’s a great place to grab a drink and enjoy outside. Lift four is right there so you can take your skis off. And while it’s not technically ski-in-ski-out, you can basically take your skis off and you’re right there.
A lot of the decision to hold off until now had to do with the nature of Telluride and the cost of real estate in the town. We’ve looked in town for some time, but that plan quickly fizzled because we couldn’t find the right space to fit from a production standpoint.
That said, it’s a little hard to get out here to our main facility in the winter. In the summer you get bikers and people are driving through town. But in the winter, we lose most people because you don’t really need a car and there’s really no way for people to come down to the brewery.
This new space allows us to build on our brand so we can reach more people.
In May, we did move the tasting room out of the brewery over to where the sandwich shop is and took over half of their space. It created more of an environment where you can sit down and enjoy a beer but all summer we’ve had to close that space.
With 20 taps can we expect some specialty beers that we haven’t seen before?
Another driving force is the creativity level. This gives us a chance to have fun with a smaller scale project. (Brewmaster and Co-Founder Chris) Fish is excited to do more Belgian Sours; we’re going to Lager up there, stuff we can’t do at the mothership. We’re still running on a 15bbl system and brewing seven days a week. Eventually, we’ll be looking to update to 30 bbl system and this year will brew just under 9,000 bbls. It gives our brewers and whole staff a chance to come together and brew styles they love while engaging more people and having more fun.
What do you hope to capture in terms of this tasting room experience and how does being at the base of the resort influence that experience?
Having the opportunity to capitalize on the apres-ski experience in Mountain Village is why we all moved here in the first place. Having the opportunity to come in, grab bites, grab a beer. It’s a small space, the capacity is 50 ppl, but that’s almost a win because the town of Mountain Village allows open consumption. So you can go out and enjoy the fire pits and outdoors while keeping your tab open. Mountain Village has also refurbished old gondolas for heated outdoor dining space. It makes it all a very unique and fun place to enjoy beer wine and cocktails.
We last spoke when Telluride Brewing was beginning to experiment with hop terpenes through Oast House Oils. How has that innovative approach been evolving, and have you seen wider adoption across the industry?
It’s been an incredible partnership, going back to the idea of a smaller R&D (research and development) station when we do smaller batches of Galloping Juice, but having an opportunity to do smaller test runs will only enhance the outcome of these beers. It’ll allow us to dive further into the hop terpene game. Yields are getting better, Strata is coming up in Galloping Juice #7.
This new brewpub will also be a taqueria. Tell us about how you all got connected with The Goods and Ouray and what folks can expect from their culinary program?
Two phenomenal chefs, we’ve known Jared through being friends with Greensky Bluegrass. We met at shows back in the day and quickly became buddies. It was his connection with Alex that connected with Fish as well. The menu will feature eight or so tacos, so it’s a small menu, but they’re very passionate and will be serving up some great stuff.