Participants of the Boulder Brew Bus ride on Banjo Billy's Bus to three local breweries on a beer tour of the town. Hosted by the West End Tavern, the stops include Avery, Twisted Pine and Upslope breweries. (CU Independent/Ben Macaluso)
Hopping on to a rickety, funky, psychedelic beer bus is a perfect way to start fall break on a good foot.
The West End Tavern hosted its weekly Boulder Brew Bus tour on Sunday. Banjo Billy’s Bus provides designated driving to three Boulder breweries. The stops included Avery, Twisted Pine and Upslope breweries.
The tour will held every Sunday at 5:30 p.m. until Dec. 19. Tickets are $30 per person and include a three-hour private VIP tour of the aforementioned breweries and an appetizer at the West End Tavern.
Come along with me on my retreat to a few of Boulder’s breweries.
Walking out of the cold on a dreary Sunday evening into the warm West End Tavern, the atmosphere was especially inviting as the Broncos were (for once) winning a football game. I was quickly greeted and offered a drink. The bartender at West End Tavern, Michelle Peth, gave a warning to those about to embark on the tour.
“You will have a great time, but I have never seen anyone come back from the tour sober,” Peth said. “People always tell me they are just going to try just a couple beers. They always end up having more.”
For those thinking ahead, getting a good meal before the tour is a good idea. The Tavern’s famous wings were delectable as the spice was tangy and had a nice kick that wasn’t overpowering.
After waiting for what seemed all too long to get the tour’s fifteen passengers aboard Banjo Billy’s bus, it was finally time to taste some local beer.
Getting on to the bus felt like a cosmic, hallucinogenic trip back into the 1960s. Faux flowers and exotic tie-dyed cloth draped the walls, while much of the inside was lit up by what seemed to be a disco ball entirely made of colored cotton balls. Sitting down on a delightfully ugly tweed love-seat, the old wooden bus rattled down the road.
John Georgis, better known as Banjo Billy, asked passengers random trivia questions about Boulder and handed out free Upslope IPA for correct answers.
Georgis started his tour bus in 2005 and has been managing operations ever since.
“This is the best job I have ever had,” Georgis said. “I do most everything. I am my own boss, I’m even the janitor.”
He said he particularly likes driving the Brew Bus.
“My job is easy and fun, especially when I drive the Brew Bus,” he said. “I get hang out with mostly enjoyable drunk people, all while getting to learn about beer.”
Gerogis is charismatic and added another level of fun to the tour with his engaging trivia and stories about Boulder. It’s difficult to imagine finding a better designated driver than Banjo Billy.
Fellow tourist Amy Jacobsen, along with her co-workers, said they were excited to go on the tour.
“Once our company softball team ended, we needed to find another excuse for all of us to go out and drink,” Jacobsen said.
The first stop on the tour was the Avery Brewing Co. On the VIP tour of the brewery, Avery employee Caitlyn Vestal gave the group a tour of their wood barrel aging room.
“The cool thing about us is that with the barrels it gives us a unique aging process and an opportunity to create a wide range of beers,” Vestal said.
Avery let the group sample three different 4 oz. beers for free. Their most popular brew, the White Rascal, is a Belgian style “white” ale. Although the beer was refreshing and very drinkable, the light consistency and taste never stood out. Their Oktoberfest-style beer, Kaiser, on the other hand, was a bold and heavy beer that had a hint of sweetness. The smooth red pour and the hint of chocolate taste made this beer a must-try.
Twisted Pine Brewery bartender Celine Cooper gives out a complimentary round of beer before pitting the participants against each other in a frozen T-shirt modeling competition. The winners received free pints. (CU Independent/Ben Macaluso)
The next stop was the Twisted Pine Brewing Co. Instead of giving passengers a tour of their 15 barrel operation, bartender Celine Cooper gave the group one complimentary pint of beer and engaged everyone in a competition.
Cooper split up the group into two teams and gave each team a frozen T-shirt. Whichever team was able to unravel the T-shirt first and put it on won free pints for the team.
Drunken debauchery ensued as every desperate attempt was made to model the soggy shirt. Immensely fun opportunities like this contest are the unique treats exclusive to the Brew Bus tour.
Twisted Pine certainly had the most unique beers of the entire tour. The beers ranged in everything from a sweet Raspberry Wheat beer to an Espresso Stout. The most unique beer I found was Billy’s Chilies. Granted, this beer was harder to drink than most, but the exotic and spicy flavor of the beer’s five different chilies made for a flavor that I have never experienced in a beer.
The final destination on the tour was the Upslope Brewing Co. By this time in the night, this reporter’s notes had become incomprehensible with the beer to seemingly be never-ending.
Read here for a more complete review of Upslope brewery. The company has recently started canning its American Brown Ale which has a great, strong-roasted malt flavor. Stop by the tasting room for new and limited release 1st Anniversary beer.
When the night ended, I crawled my way back onto the bus and sat down in a horse saddle. I was grinning from ear to ear as Grandmaster Flash blared from the bus speakers singing along with my new tourist friends. Banjo Billy and his Boulder Brew bus was a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of local Boulder breweries all while getting to share the fun with a wide array of people.
It’s important to make sure passengers have a scheduled ride home from someone who preferably will not make fun of them the next morning; those going certainly won’t be in any condition to drive.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ben Macaluso at Ben.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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