"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cannonball Creek Makes a Splash

The cool wind whizzing past your ears, a satisfying splash, a shore-soaking column of water, gleeful giggles, the refreshing and rapid transition from sweltering heat to invigorating chillness, and the cheers of approval elicited from witnesses of the dramatic event: as a kid, there’s hardly a better feeling than performing the perfectly-executed cannonball at the local swimming hole. 

One can “cannonball” in a more metaphorical sense, too.  Say, for example, we replace the body of water with Golden, Colorado (AKA Coors Country) and replace the flying, tuck-positioned child with Cannonball Creek Brewing Company, the latest—and only second—craft brewery to splashdown in the mega-brewery’s backyard.  That, too, can cause waves.

Named for Clear Creek’s original appellation, Cannonball Creek held its grand opening last Saturday, January 19th, so Nicole and I, after working up a thirst hiking local landmark Castle Rock, thought it best to replenish ourselves with new, local craft beer.  Fortunately for Cannonball Creek but unfortunately for anybody trying to get a hassle-free beer, everybody else in town had the same idea.

Set to open at 3pm, Nicole and I arrived at Cannonball Creek at 2:45 and, by that time, the line of anticipating beer geeks curled around the corner.  What can one infer from this situation?  There’s no right answer to the question but I choose to see it as such: Golden locals are sick of their beer scene being exclusively linked to Coors.  They know that on a state-wide level their home is the craft beer capital but, on a municipal level, there is but a corporate Goliath and a single, miniscule David (i.e. Golden City Brewery).  Certainly, the locals can thank Coors for being a job creator and for bringing loads of tourist dollars into an otherwise sleepy, foothills burg but it must be frustrating to be in the midst of the craft beer revolution and yet have so few craft breweries to show for it.  This, I believe, is the reason for the fanfare surrounding Cannonball Creek. It is a show of appreciation; a “thank you” to a business with locals in mind—another David brewery for beer-savvy Goldenites to enjoy as out-of-staters and School of Mines undergrads horde Coors.

The doors opened and the taproom was rushed like water flowing through a burst dam.  Patrons snatched seats as if they were doomsday preppers stockpiling last minute canned goods.  Eventually, the smoke cleared and Nicole and I were able to eke out standing room by the windows for our imbibing pleasure.  Being situated by the windows, we noticed the line outside kept advancing yet never became shorter (more people came to refill it) and that nobody seemed to be leaving the taproom; I’m pretty sure there’s a black hole in Cannonball Creek—how else does one cram people into a room lacking available space?  I don’t know what the zoning laws say but there’s definitely an area in front big enough to fit a patio and I hope the brewery seriously considers installing such an outdoor space; if the massive support for this brewery lasts, they’ll need the extra seating.

Nicole wiggled her way to the bar and managed to procure a Parbuckle Pale Ale (4.5% ABV) and a Mindbender IPA (4.5% ABV).  Parbuckle is a hybrid American/English pale ale with a cloudy, pale yellow body and a cherry-like aroma.  The flavor is mildly hoppy and quite yeast-forward.  Mindbender is essentially the same color as Parbuckle but with more clarity.  It smells and tastes piney, woody; it’s a sensible American-style IPA—not too biting.

Left to right: Parbuckle & Mindbender
As we sipped the beers we fought so hard to acquire, we engaged in a bit of people-watching.  I noticed somebody in line wearing a shirt reading “The Cookie Brewer” and, having my memory sparked, I checked my Twitter followers.  Sure enough, there was The Cookie Brewer.  I started typing and the conversation went like so:

Me:  is that you right outside Cannonball Creek right now?
TCB:  Yep!!! Come say hi!
Me:  look behind you

A bit creepy?  Yes, but the situation lent itself well to this mischievous exchange and, hopefully, the presence of my girlfriend tempered the creep-factor; it would have been a different story had I been alone.  At any rate, it’s always nice to meet cyber friends in the corporal world.  Give her a follow on Twitter while you’re thinking about it.
Nicole enjoys having her picture taken

We finished our beers, made our way through the jungle of limbs and pints, and finally found ourselves outside.  While the crowds will surely wane over time, I’m willing to bet Cannonball Creek will always be a popular destination for beer geeks and especially Golden beer geeks who are desperate for more craft options.  They won’t be desperate for long, though, as three more craft breweries will be opening in Golden this year

Soon, Golden will have five small breweries firing cannons at the citadels of Coors.  Those walls are steadfast and will never crumble but artillery strikes, nonetheless, will cause cracks and dents—cracks and dents just big enough for local beer geeks to take hold.  And that’s all the damage that needs to be done to allow craft beer culture to flourish in the shadow of the giant.



Golden from atop Castle Rock

Espying Coors from Castle Rock

This person (I assume a brewer at Echo Brewing Company) really likes double IPAs


  1. Love to see a new brewery packed on opening day. Yet another place to add to my growing list of places to visit someday soon.

    1. Yeah, it always brings a tear of joy to the eye to see so much support for the local brew scene.

  2. Wow,yet another brewpub to visit!So many breweries to visit,so little time...