Dec 19, 2023 - Food and Drink

Colorado's best breweries and beers of 2023

Westbound & Down Brewing in Idaho Springs. Photo courtesy of Westbound & Down

Photo: Courtesy of Westbound & Down Brewing

The top brewery in Colorado this year is Westbound & Down.

What to know: The Idaho Springs beer maker won the most votes in Axios Denver's third annual survey, and its gold medal-winning Select IPA landed among the top 5 beers of the year.

What they're saying: The more than 250 industry pros and craft beer fans who completed this year's survey touted Westbound & Down's diverse portfolio of lagers, IPAs and its unique dark beers packaged in 8-ounce cans.

  • "Every beer they produce is consistently fantastic," writes Andy Giesen, a Resolute Brewery bartender.
  • Respondents also touted the great atmosphere at its three taprooms, which include Lafayette and Denver.

What to watch: Westbound & Down is expanding after the recent acquisition of Aspen and Capitol Creek breweries in western Colorado.

Best beer

Cerebral Brewing's Rare Trait IPA
Photo courtesy of Cerebral Brewing

The best beer award goes to Cerebral Rare Trait, the Denver brewery's flagship hazy IPA.

State of play: Cerebral also finished a close second in the brewery of the year category. It won our 2022 competition.

  • The beer's fans noted Rare Trait's crisp hop flavor and easy-drinking nature. "I can't get enough of this beer. It is superbly balanced with an incredible hop flavor," says Paul Hoff.

Of note: The runners-up in the best beer category were Comrade Superpower IPA and Bierstadt Slow Pour Pils.

Best new brewery: Second Dawn

Second Dawn Brewing
A hazy IPA at Second Dawn Brewing. Photo: John Frank/Axios

The intrigue: The Aurora brewery founded by Ross Koenigs, formerly of New Belgium, received double the votes of the next closest competitor.

  • The fans mentioned the quality of the beer so soon after it opened and the vibe of the taproom as the highlights.
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