BrewChief Does Durango
Exploring the Beer and Coffee scene in Durango, Colorado
Posted on 3/8/2016 by Chops
After relocating to Albuquerque, New Mexico a few years ago, BrewChief has been exploring the Southwestern brewing scene. The Land of Enchantment is home a plethora of talented brewers and roasters. As an added bonus, the craft beer Mecca of Colorado is a short drive away. BrewChief is a long time fan of several Colorado breweries, including the eccentric Ska Brewing located in the scenic mountain town of Durango. I recently enjoyed my first trip to the area and discovered that Durango was also home to some fantastic coffee roasters.

Chainring Coffee Roasters (Click Here)

My first stop introduced me to Duffy Brook, owner of Chainring Coffee Roasters, a tiny roastery specializing in small batches with unique characters. As Duffy puts it, Chainring "roasts for sweetness and happiness." He offers an intimate line of roast-to-order coffees that showcase regions from all over the world. Coffee is a personal adventure to him and the attention to detail from grind to pour was on full display. I enjoyed delectable samples from Ethiopia to Burundi and ended up leaving with several bags of whole beans roasted to perfection. Duffy is beyond knowledgeable of his craft and offered up some great insights into tasting and regional nuance. Fun fact, the company name comes from an equal love of cycling (not surprising given the gorgeous location). So if you're an outdoorsy person with a love for good coffee, stop by Chainring and say hello to Duffy. You'll have plenty to talk about.

Desert Sun Coffee Roasters (Click Here)

My second stop introduced me to Desert Sun, one of the largest coffee roasters in the area. Established in 2004, the company has grown from a tiny local business to one that distributes to cafes and restaurants all over the country. They offer a wide variety of blends and single origin coffees roasted to various strengths. Their coffees are all certified organic and fair trade, making them a preferred option in their respective markets. I got a chance to meet several members of the crew while sampling my way through their tasty wares. Riley, their Sales & Marketing guru, whipped up a cappuccino that I will not soon forget. Nicely played, sir.

Ska Brewing (Click Here)

And then came Ska, the cornerstone of the Durango brewing experience. Anyone familiar with the American craft beer movement has heard the name and likely tried their nectar. Beers like the Modus Hoperandi IPA and Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter have made Ska a staple of the craft beer scene, both in Colorado and beyond. Their colorful cans are unmistakable and the brews they contain are always delicious. As a long time fan, I was quite stoked to visit the mothership. From the second I stepped inside, it was everything I could have hoped for and more, from the stylized decor to the tap list of regular and rare brews (the Modus Mandarina IPA varietal was especially tasty). They even feature a pub-style restaurant made from an old shipping container. They call it ... The Container (rimshot). It was a fantastic visit, one that every Colorado craft beer fan needs to experience.

81301 Coffee (Click Here)

My last stop took me to 81301 Coffee, a small cafe situated at the north end of town. They are a unique operation in that they roast their own beans on site while doubling as a quintessential corner cafe (think Starbucks, but without the polished sheen). It's an earthy delight that is perfectly fit for the outdoorsy population. Hell, most of the clientele wore hiking boots and base layer hoodies. It's one of those few places that fill a very specific role in the community and is more than happy to do it, without the pretentiousness. In short, I enjoyed some tasty Joe in a comfy place.

Overall, my first trip to Durango was a magical experience. I came for Ska and ended up discovering a rich coffee scene. The visit far exceeded my expectations and I plan to return many times in the future. I only scratched the surface of what the area has to offer in terms of craft beer and coffee. It's such a rich and vibrant area, one that offers an endless variety of things to see and do, despite its moderate size. And on the off chance you enjoy outdoor activities, then your cup shall runneth over. Start with some great coffee, get dirty, and cap it all off with some great beer.

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Enjoying a Modus Mandarina IPA at Ska Brewing in Durango, Colorado
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