I posted about the craft breweries around Golden a few years ago. We’ve gone from having just one, in the shadow of the behemoth Coors Beers, to almost a dozen. Naturally, they all have wonderful brews, and I can safely say I have my favorites around town.
But the problem with most of these places is the food or lack of it. Only one place, Barrels and Bottles, serves its own sandwiches, salads, and a few starters. They’re adequate but nothing exciting. All others enlist food trucks to fill the void. One place (and I won’t mention which one), has a few items to order, but they don’t care about the quality. I had a rock-hard soft pretzel with Velveeta-level cheese sauce, and I couldn’t finish it.
That’s why I welcome a place like Lariat Lodge. It’s one of those local rarities that serve fantastic beers AND food. And it’s not your average bar stuff that keeps you from getting tipsy when you drink.
Two venues, two different vibes
Starting in 2015, Lariat Lodge has two locations. The original is in Evergreen and was probably a converted lodge or home. The second is a cavernous former restaurant in Littleton, just off State Highway C470. Both have a different feel and atmosphere. I personally like the Evergreen locale because it feels more welcoming, but the Littleton venue is a much easier drive.
If you should go to the Evergreen location and the weather is pleasant, I recommend sitting on their patio, which affords a panoramic view of the mountains to the west. Dogs are allowed to sit with you as long as they’re leashed. The Littleton location is great for watching sporting events, as it has about a half dozen large screens around the dining area.
Of course, the biggest reason people go to a craft brewery is to enjoy beer. Lariat Lodge has twelve rotating brews, a quarter of which are IPAs (India Pale Ale), a hop-forward beer often higher in alcohol by volume (ABV) content. I like IPAs because they have more flavor and character, but my favorite is an amber or red ale. It’s a smoother blend with an even balance between malts and hops.
For this visit to Lariat Lodge, I tried a flight of four beers I hadn’t drunk before, choosing the Lazo Lager (a light and clear Mexican-style brew), Lazy EyePA (a West Coast IPA), Gogmagog (a very strong Belgian) and Hazy Boy IPA (a citrusy brew with unfiltered grains).
I liked all of them except the Lazy EyePA, which is unusual for me as I normally like this kind of brew. The pine taste overpowered everything else, and it seemed like I was drinking the sap from a Christmas tree. The Gogmagog – I’m still not sure what that means – was surprisingly smooth and not at all boozy despite its 9.9% ABV.
What sets Lariat Lodge apart from other brewpubs in the area is its food, and it’s not the usual bar fare. If you check out their website’s first page, it’s a clear message (“Colorado Brewed, Elevated Food”). You won’t have to settle for ordinary buffalo wings and soggy pizza here.
Case in point: A starter item, Bottle Rockets, incorporates jalapenos, bacon, cream cheese, and green onion into wonton wrappers and pairs them with root beer barbecue sauce. You can order three kinds of loaded fries – poutine, carne asada or truffle. Some creative dishes on the rest of the menu include a lamb gyro, birria French dip, brown butter shrimp and grits. I haven’t seen these entrees anywhere else and appreciate the innovative touches.
On our visit, RAS and I tried the green chili, which was meaty, flavorful, and spicy but not overly so. A bit of sour cream might have tempered the heat, but it was generally solid. However, our Lazy Eye Lari’s Cheesesteak was simply adequate. I looked forward to a Southwestern take on the Philly classic sandwich, but its flavors were only slightly spicy. There was nothing to distinguish it from the regular kind. The accompanying fries were also quite soggy, which is something I never appreciated.
I may have to come back to Lariat Lodge and try something else to eat to review its food more accurately. I like how aspirational their menu offerings are. But the beer, with one exception, is worth the trip to Evergreen or Littleton.