It's a cool little town. A visit last weekend reinforced the sense that all beer is local, and variety is infinite.
The local craft brewery is called Amicas. It deals pizzas and beers on a brewpub model, with some limited bottling in 22-ounce bombers. For a local joint, the atmosphere is oddly chain-like and unfunky. Diners waiting for a table are given vibrating pagers, and the menus are suspiciously professional and uniform.
I enjoyed a Joe's Porter, a relatively strong take on the style (6 percent ABV), with an almost overwhelming coffee flavor. I have no doubt the caffeine powered me through the long evening.
The customers at Amicas were mostly outdoorsy 30-somethings, a crowd familiar to any Durangoan. A few high-school kids on dates before a formal dance were amusing to watch.
Amicas is probably no better or worse than dozens of other brewpubs. But every town deserves its own beer.
Actually, I prefer Moonlight Pizza in Salida. The pizza is superb, with a tasty thin crust and fresh-tasting toppings. And while Moonlight is not a brewery, it has three well-chosen beers on tap — on my visit, Crested Butte White Buffalo Peace Ale (a refreshing pale ale), Stone IPA, and a Left Hand beer that I can't recall.
Finally, Roxy's Bottle Shop offered an impressive selection of craft and import beers. I grabbed a Whale's Tale Pale Ale, a beer from Nantucket, Mass.; a Boulevard 21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Pale Ale (which I now fear is past its prime) and a French red ale called Gavroche.
No matter where one travels in the United States, the beer differs. It's amazing how a little town only 200 miles from Durango has so many beers not found here.
The independent craft brewer is a holdout for local expression, while so many other forums – newspapers, bookstores, independent retail of any sort – are in decline.
Long live the independent craft brewer.