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Trails End Taproom encourages indecision with its stand-out beer curation

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Snacks are for sobering up — it’s all about beer here. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Snacks are for sobering up — it’s all about beer here.
For adventurous, indecisive or novice craft beer drinkers, there’s an undeniable appeal in a pour-your-own taproom. Curious and just want a sip? Pour an ounce or two. Like the taste? Get more. Not a fan? Ask a roaming bartender for a suggestion and be glad samples come cheap.

Trails End Taproom is the first of its kind in town, owned by Kevin Weese and managed by Mike Walter. On a visit, a few things jump out. First, the bicycling/outdoors theme pops on all fronts, from the trail maps to the bike-tire chandelier to the recreation-area road signs around the space. As promised before opening, there’s a selection of outdoorsy necessities, from trail mix to bicycle tire-repair goo.

Second, the beer selection is unlike anything else in town. Trails End offers beers that do not otherwise come to the Springs, and not just a few. Denver-area standouts like Black Shirt Brewing Co., Resolute Brewing Co., New Image Brewing, De Steeg Brewing and many more — to say nothing of their many rare offerings from across the country. Trails End has 40 taps rotating through a consistent balance of styles, and while that’s not the most in the Springs, for ambitious curation they are effectively peerless.

And there’s a cost. Each beer, wine, cider, or kombucha tap is priced by the ounce. For common beers like Avery’s White Rascal, that means customers will pay around $6 a pint — steep, but not unreasonable. Most beers run between 50 and 90 cents an ounce, or between $8 and $14.40 a pint. Over two visits, prices peaked at $1.62 an ounce, about $26 for a pint, for Denver-based Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project’s cherry Nightmare on Brett.
Location Details Trails End Taproom
3103 W. Colorado Ave.
West side
Colorado Springs, CO
428-0080
Breweries/Wineries/Distilleries

Credit given, there’s no tipping at Trails End — all employees get at least the proper minimum wage. Subtracting a hypothetical 20 percent tip, we see that we’d otherwise be getting a $5 pint of White Rascal and a $21.50 Nightmare on Brett, with most brews falling between $6.50 and $12 per pint pre-tip. Shorter pours compare price-wise to competitors, but there’s no volume discount for buying a pint here. The model encourages multiple small sips.

We find satisfaction in that variety, hopping between pours of Denver-based Renegade Brewing Company’s Pancakes maple porter, which reads coffee and breakfast in the best way, and New Image’s East Coast Transplant double dry hopped double IPA, a masterpiece of tropical and floral notes. We’re glad we only had small pours of more intense brews like De Steeg’s lavender citra pale ale, unmissably aromatic but not full-on potpourri, or Black Bottle Brewery’s Tom’s Gout Free Stout, an imperial stout aged on sour cherries with the sour bite of kombucha.

There’s food available, but it’s more snack bar than restaurant. For price and quality both, we favor sausages, $3 each, from Sara’s Sausages in Palmer Lake. Go mild or hot Polish if you like black pepper, or try the spicy, smoky andouille. We’re also happy with Mountain Pie Co.’s coconut curry pie, a quality vegetarian option. There’s pizza, too, made by adjacent Papa Murphy’s, around $10 for a 12-inch pizza. A house special ’za with slices of Sara’s andouille is fine, and we’re satisfied with the chew of the gluten-free crust under a respectable barbecue chicken pizza. Customers can also bring in their own food.

Trails End’s business model sets it apart in town. Whatever can be said about the pricing model, it beats taking I-25 to Denver to try these beers.

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