South Park Brewing Co. opens in Fairplay
If you go
What: South Park Brewing Co.
When: Hours are 1-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: 297 1/2 U.S. Highway 285, Fairplay
Cost: Beers are $5 or $6 a pint or $5 for a flight, and bites range from $1 for Annie’s organic fruit snacks to $15 for a meat and cheese platter with Scanga meats from Salida
More information: Visit http://www.southparkbrewingco.com, or call (719) 836-1932
People of Park County, rejoice! Your brewery has arrived.
Co-owners and husband-and-wife team Paul Kemp and Megan Sebastian opened the doors of South Park Brewing Co. in mid-September at the junction of Highways 9 and 285 in Fairplay. Kemp had been a homebrewer for 10 years, volunteering at various breweries, taking classes and ultimately turning his hobby into a profession.
Kemp brews classic styles, Sebastian said, gateway ales for those who are just getting into craft beer and sessionable choices for the wide variety of palates that come in off the highway. In a small town such as Fairplay, it was important that the brewery offer beer that the majority of people would recognize, she said.
“You start with the kind of lighter beers, Bud, the Silver Bullet, and those are awesome, and then you move into the more full-flavored kind of stuff, and I think that’s where we’re at in the craft beer industry,” she said.
MEET THE BREWS
South Park Brewing currently has eight beers on tap priced at $5 or $6 per pint. If you can’t choose just one, then the brewery also offers a flight of four beers for $5. Here’s a breakdown of each style.
• Ranch Hand Ale ($5 per pint) — 5.2 percent alcohol by volume, 20 International Bittering Units. Ranch Hand is one of the brewery’s flagship beers, a nod to Park County’s rural roots and the large ranches around Fairplay. It’s the lightest, most sessionable beer of the bunch, meant to be a gateway to the rest of the beer list. Kemp spent six years perfecting the recipe for this ale, which has a lot of body, full flavor and a nice alcohol profile but “won’t knock them on their keister,” Sebastian said.
• Park Pale Ale ($5 per pint) — 5.9 percent ABV, 51 IBUs. Another flagship beer, this pale has a lot of flavor without all of the bitterness of a full IPA. The carbonation level — “a nice little fizz on your tongue,” Sebastian said — allows it to lace nicely on the glass and maintain a decent head of foam all the way down. The bitterness hits first on the front of the tongue, then the back, with a smooth, not overly hoppy or astringent finish.
• Saison ($5 per pint) — 4.7 percent ABV, 20 IBUs. Belgian beer styles can sometimes be overwhelming, Sebastian said, but this saison isn’t over the top. Not knowing if a Belgian style would go over well in a small farming community, the brewery co-owners were pleasantly surprised that the saison has been well received; they’ve since brewed a Bavarian-style hefeweizen in honor of opening day at Breckenridge Ski Resort.
• Dry Hop Amber ($5 per pint) — 5.6 percent ABV, 37 IBUs. This amber is bright-tank dry hopped, giving it a slightly sweet, fruity, almost strawberry flavor, Sebastian said. Kemp was trying to pack as much flavor as he could into a beer that was still very approachable and not too heavy.
• Open Range IPA ($6 per pint) — 6.9 percent ABV. The recipe for this beer went through many variations until Kemp arrived at one that he and Sebastian could agree on. Sebastian said she’s the guinea pig for tasting to decide what is commercially viable. “As he brews and brews and brews, he loves beer, he goes bigger and bigger,” she said. “I being a Coors drinker, we have to dial that back because it’s not what everyone is going to love right away.” The result is a middle-of-the-road IPA, slightly sweet with a flavor profile that showcases the beer as much as the hops.
• Buffalo Peak Brown Ale ($6 per pint) — 5.7 percent ABV, 51 IBUs. Sebastian called this brown ale a “sandwich beer,” a bridge between the lighter beers of the summertime and the darker, malt-forward, “chewy” beers of winter.
• South Park Milk Stout ($5 per pint) — 4.7 percent ABV, 41 IBUs. When Kemp brewed this beer, he was attempting to eliminate the bitterness, a flavor that often turns people away from darker beers, Sebastian said. This stout is brewed with chocolate malt and a hint of roasted coffee with a creamy finish, and the brewery serves it with traditional carbonation and also on nitro. “It’s a sipping, amazing beer for its flavor, so we’re capturing our wine drinkers and our alternative drinkers with that beer,” Sebastian said.
• Poblano Pepper Amber ($6) — 6 percent ABV, 33 IBUs. This pepper beer is the first seasonal offering for the brewery and will be on tap for about another month, then will go away until next fall, Kemp said. It’s made with roasted chilies from Pueblo, and Kemp has been brewing it for about three years, Sebastian said.
Kemp is in the process of brewing a Holiday Ale, a 9.3 percent ABV brew that’s low on the hop end and will sell for $6 for a 10-ounce pour. The beer will be released in the taproom on Saturday, Dec. 6, during the Real Colorado Christmas and Holiday Bazaar festivities in Fairplay.
“It’s kind of a Belgian-style ale, medium bodied,” Kemp said. “We’ve blended a couple of different types of yeast, Belgian and American strains. It’s lightly hopped, higher alcohol percentage and spiced with a bit of sweet orange and cinnamon with a hint of a warming taste to it.”
South Park Brewing has also started to distribute its beers to bars and restaurants in Summit County, starting with The Warming Hut, Apres Handcrafted Libations and Blue Stag Saloon in Breckenridge, and around Christmas week the brewery will begin bottling its beer in 22-ounce bombers for local liquor stores.
Kemp said being able to experiment with beers and provide something new for Park County has been rewarding, and the brewery is a fun day-trip destination for those who travel to Fairplay.
“Megan and I both enjoy interacting with people in the taproom and getting their takes on how they enjoy the beers,” he said. “I think that’s a big thing. And really having a place over here in Park County, Fairplay, to have this kind of concept and gathering place for the community.”