West (Destination)

June 2015

Denver, Boulder, Aspen and Colo. Springs please the palate

by Eric Andersen

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    Woody Creek Distillers, Basalt, Colorado

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    The Little Nell, Aspen

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    Capitol Hill Mansion Bed & Breakfast Inn, Denver

Denver, Boulder, Aspen and Colorado Springs offer easy access to farm-fresh culinary options and these well-established mountain communities are also heralded for their abundance of craft breweries, wineries and distilleries. With the range of options available, planners should have no problem organizing an exploratory outing or social event to fit the tastes of any group.

The only hard part is deciding which food or drink establishments to check out. Meetings Focus is here to help with a few highlights from each city. So sit back, relax and ready your taste buds!

Denver Delights
Culinary Connectors has been hosting food tours in Colorado’s capital city since 2008 and beer tours since 2012. It currently only works with private events and tours, so there’s less worry of running into a group of rowdy tourists and more flexibility with the schedule.

Culinary Connectors’ ‘Denver Savor the Flavors Tour’ is a two-hour walking tour exploring four casual F&B establishments of your choosing, divided up by neighborhoods. The cost is $49 per person. The ‘Top Restaurants Tour’ lasts three hours and allows groups to check out three of the city’s finest restaurants, spending 45 minutes at each, chatting with on-site chefs and staff. The cost is $150 per person.

The ‘Craft Beer Tour’ allows groups to explore a sample of the city’s staggering amount of breweries, including Breckenridge Brewery, Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery and Former Future Brewing Company. The tours go beyond the beverage itself, and focus on the people that work behind the scenes each day.

Beyond the tours, custom-dining events can be coordinated to accommodate larger groups of up to 200, and the only restriction is that you make private reservations for at least 10 people.

Smaller groups of up to 25 can reserve a private bus and ride along Banjo Billy’s Denver Brewery Tour, which departs from the Colorado Convention Center. The tour includes stops at Renegade Brewing Company, Beryl’s Beer Co. and Prost Brewing Company.

Denver’s Hotel Teatro offers a ‘Bike & Brew Package’ in which the hotel’s concierge curates a craft brewery experience based on the specific tastes of each group. Guests can hop on the hotel’s vintage bikes and explore Denver’s best breweries using their customized maps.

Boulder Bites
Local Table Tours, LLC offers F&B tours in both Boulder and Denver, but its base of operations is in the University of Colorado college town.

The company offers coffee and chocolate tasting tours, cocktail tours, dining tours and market-to-table tours, among others. Many of the stops along the tours can be found in historic, downtown Boulder, on Pearl Street, which remains a popular foodie hotspot.

Typical tours are made up of smaller groups (in the four-to-10 person range), but Local Table Tours is able to arrange private customized tours for up to 60 and dining events for larger groups with advance notice.

Awe-Struck Outdoors offers a ‘Bike to Farm Tour,’ in which groups of up to 100 can take part in bike rides of varying difficulty along country roads, to a lunch that is served outdoors at what is described as a “secluded, elegant farm.” If any members of the group prefer to skip the bike ride, they can arrange transportation to meet at the farm.

Celestial Seasonings allows factory tours where groups can see how tea leaves make their way into tea bags and also take part in a tea tasting at the on-site sampling bar, before or after the tour. Groups larger than eight must make reservations in advance to tour the facility.

303 Vodka offers distillery tours for groups of up to 15 and asks that reservations be made at least a week in advance. The distillery’s tasting room is also available for private rentals to larger groups.

Aspen Adventures
Woody Creek Distillers is located approximately 21 miles from the center of downtown Aspen and the distillery provides a number of opportunities for drink excursions.

The Aspen-based Blazing Adventures offers a ‘Whiskey River’ rafting or kayaking trip on Tuesdays and Fridays, ending at Woody Creek Distillers. The half-day excursion ends with a tasting of the distillery’s locally made vodka, whiskey and other spirits. It can also work with groups to put together other culinary activities, such as its ‘Backcountry Sunset Dinner.’

Adventure-seeking groups can easily hop on a bike and ride along the Rio Grande Trail, which runs parallel with the Roaring Fork River, from downtown Aspen to Woody Creek Distillery. The mostly downhill ride to Basalt, Colo., typically takes between one and one-and-a-half hours to complete and Bike Butlers can help with the logistics of delivering and picking up bikes, helmets, maps and giving directions or arranging rides as needed.

The Little Nell offers a summer ‘Ride & Dine’ series, where groups of up to 20, can take part in a bike ride that ends with a farm-fresh dinner. Road bikes are available at the resort, or cycling enthusiasts can even opt to bring their own bike. Executive Chef Bryan Moscatello leads the group dinner and Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy hand-selects cuvee wines from the hotel’s Element 47 restaurant. Element 47 also features private dining for groups of up to 50.

Culinary Colorado Springs
Ivywild School includes private event space for groups of up to 200, community gardens and is the new home of Bristol Brewery & Pub in Colorado Springs.

Bristol Brewery opened in 1994 and now produces five flagship beers, alongside seasonal and specialty options. The brewery offers daily tours and its Barrel Room can also be rented out for private events.

The Winery at Pikes Peak is housed in a historic 8,000-square-foot building whose Main Dining Room comfortably fits groups of 100. The winery offers scenic mountain views and planners can arrange group wine tastings of its six signature wines.

Colorado Springs Food Tours, was on a brief hiatus, but the highly-regarded food tour is starting back up again in June 2015. The mother-daughter team began hosting tours in 2010 and offer a variety of food and beverage experiences, including a ‘Delicious Downtown Food Tour’ exploring historic downtown Colorado Springs dining at $49 per person.

Colorado Springs is also home to a number of luxury hotels, which can provide fine-dining experiences for groups, such as specialized cooking and grilling classes at The Broadmoor and customized group menus at The Lodge at Flying Horse’s La Fortezza restaurant.

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