Tommyknocker Brewery – Idaho Springs
Do you have a go-to place for when you just want to get out of the house and unwind in a fun atmosphere? Where you know the food is reliably great and the in-house brewed beer is always cold? For us that place is Tommyknocker Brewery in the small mountain town of Idaho Springs, CO.
We started going to Tommyknocker long before we’d ever even heard of the nearby unincorporated “town” of Dumont. Little did we know back then that we would be buying a home in Dumont, with the closest grocery store and restaurants in Idaho Springs.
And where we need to go to dispose of trash & recyclables. (Who knew there were still places without garbage pickup or mail delivery? Alright, maybe most of you did – but I had always taken those services for granted.)
We may be remote, but less than 10 minutes away we have access to a pretty amazing brewpub. The majority of breweries I’ve been to are focused on the beer and either don’t have food available or you are limited to food trucks or the typical pub fare.
Tommyknocker has a full menu with options to satisfy every palette and stage of hunger. The fish & chips, pork green chili, buffalo and lamb burger are all really good and popular. But we are hooked so hard on the Mother Lode Nachos that it’s usually hard to veer away.
The meat, cheese and condiments are all good and fresh, but what really sets these nachos apart is the chips! Spent grain from Tommyknocker is picked up and taken to Raquelitas Tortillas, where they turn that grain into THE BEST chips we’ve ever had.
Raquelitas Tortillas – The brand that chefs demand. Featured on the Food Network, Raquelitas Tortillas, a Denver based, minority owned business, has been “Colorado’s Premium Tortilla Manufacturer” since 1960.
Using spent grain direct from the Tommyknocker mash tun, Raquelitas hand crafts specialty tortilla chips of the highest quality and rich with micro nutrients inherent in said spent grain. Enjoy them as the base of Tommyknocker’s nachos or by the bag available from Raquelitas. — Tommyknocker Partnerships
Seriously. At random times Jeff will just blurt out, “Hey, how about nachos and a beer?” And moments later we are headed to Tommyknocker. Someday I fully expect he will be able to send me a brain wave request and won’t even need to open his mouth until the humongous plate of nachos are placed in front of him.
Unless you are almost literally starving, you should probably plan to share. (From experience I can tell you that they do not reheat well – regardless of heat source).
I know we already paused to admire the nachos, but I’m not ready to let go of them yet. Let’s go in for a closer look at those fantastic tortilla chips.
The main draw to Tommyknocker is of course the beer. Which is why I made you wait for it. If you’ve not ever taken a tour of the brewery, you really should remedy that now. From the bar area, you can view the fermentation tanks and watch the brewmasters at work.
For the uninitiated, it might appear that the majority of the brewing process takes place on this level. But oh, there is so much more. The tour continues downstairs where there is a buzz of activity in the various rooms – which seem to be in a completely different underground world.
Our afternoon tour was with Steve Indrehus, Director of Brewery Operations. Steve has a long history with Tommyknocker and has his hands in just about every aspect of the operation, from hand-picking the Loveland Ski Area spruce pine needles for the Pine Bough Pale Ale, to determining the exact ratio of fresh orange peel to be infused into the Blood Orange IPA.
Passionate about his brews and full of Tommyknocker history and facts, Steve imparts brewery knowledge a mile a minute, leaving you grabbing for all the interesting nuggets zooming past. (Or maybe I was on the slow side having just suffered a chemical burn in one eye just prior to our meeting).
Breckenridge Distillery Bourbon Barrels are used for aging the Gold Medal winning Butt Head Bock and the small batch brewed Legend Olde Oaked Brown Ale, as well as the Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Nut Brown. A whole lotta flavor in those bad boys.
One of their newer beers, the Palisade Peachwood Ale is made from the actual wood as pictured above. No actual peaches involved. This is one of my favorite Tommyknocker brews – one that I could drink all the time. The Green Chile Lager is another that I really like, though it usually isn’t on tap so I grab a 6 pack on the way out.
Jeff was surprised at how much he enjoyed both the Peachwood and the Green Chile. While he will never drink the Green Chile as long as there is a Blood Orange IPA or a Peachwood to be had, he says it is the best of any of the spicy beers he has had anywhere; no artificial taste or over-the-top heat like some he has had.
His go-to from Tommyknocker is the Blood Orange, which is a top contender for all of us. Every couple weeks Jeff will stop on his way home from work and pick up a 6 pack – unless he has thought ahead and brought in a growler to be filled.
They had bottled earlier in the day of our tour, so we went back a few days later to check out the bottling process. Kayla was managing everything that was going on around her and catching any malfunctions WHILE answering employee questions and discussing the process with us. It was like watching a mom of triplets take care of all their needs while giving a college lecture and signing a mortgage loan. Quite impressive.
With all he knew of the history of the building and the tommyknockers folklore in this mining town, I couldn’t help but ask Steve before the end of the tour if he had read ‘Tommyknockers’ by “my Stephen”. How could he not, right??
But alas, Steve is not a fan of Stephen or the horror genre in general. He makes some really great brews though, and he is always coming up with new concepts. So all is forgiven.
Bad photo, but had to throw it in there. For Steve.