Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A visit to Dolores River Brewery

Dolores River Brewery sits in downtown Dolores, a small town that I often pass through on my way from Durango to Telluride.

It's a young brewery, using equipment cobbled together from across the West and Midwest. The place is small, dominated by a few large tables and an enclosed bar lined with taps.

It seems to have become the go-to place in Dolores. I was there last weekend during Dolores River Days, and a steady stream of customers flowed in.

Dolores River Brewery is a brewpub in the same mold as Carver's in Durango. It offers a full food menu, but pizza is the specialty.

On tap during my visit were a mild, a pale ale, ESB, dry stout and seasonals "Liquid Sunshine" (style unknown but definitely undistinguished), an IPA and an imperial stout on nitro.

I started with a pint of the pale ale, one of my favorite styles. It was mediocre, lacking the hop character that is desirable and, really, expected in the style. Caramel malt was the foremost flavor.

Dolores River Brewery's standout beer is its dry stout. I'd been impressed by the dry stout before on tap at the Columbine bar in Mancos. My second impression was as good as the first. It is indeed dry, full of dark malt flavor that is well balanced by hops. It's very easy to drink and light-bodied enough to enjoy even in 90-degree heat.

Small tastes I tried of the Liquid Sunshine and IPA were unimpressive. So it seems Dolores River Brewery is inconsistent. That stout, though, is certainly worth seeking out.

Dolores River Brewery opens daily at 4 p.m. The brewery offers growlers to go.


  1. I really enjoyed the Imperial Stout when I was there (it wasn't on nitro at the time). I also tried the ESB and it wasn't bad, but nothing amazing either. Sadly I never got to try the Dry Stout.

    Is the Pale Ale an American or British Pale? I often find myself thinking exactly what you described when I unwittingly try a British Pale expecting an American Pale.

  2. You raise a good question, Jeff. I come to pale ales from Northwest classics like Deschutes Mirror Pond and Full Sail that definitely tend toward the hoppier end of the style. Perhaps Dolores was going for a more British interpretation. But here's the thing: Is it possible that American-style pale ales are simply better, more flavorful and more interesting than their British predecessors?

    I wish I could have tried the imperial stout, but it would have made for an interesting drive back to Durango.

  3. Party on Jeff. Party On Soggy. Sha!