Mountain Sun Family of Pubs

By Alex Gearhart

Since 1993, 2002, and 2008 respectively, the Mountain Sun, Southern Sun and Vine Street Pubs have been brewing traditional, experimental and style-stretching beers.

As stated by Head Brewer, Brian Hutchinson, Mountain Suns’ unfiltered ales came about when Kevin Daly realized law school wasn’t his thing and headed to the Pacific Northwest to dig the pub scene. He soon became inspired by the effortless merging of good beer and good food, along with groovy tunes of bands like the Grateful Dead. With Boulder in mind as a promising future location for a brewpub, he recruited Jack Harris from Oregon to be his first head brewer. Harris rode his bike down from Oregon to Boulder and the Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery was born. 

Mountain Sun is Boulder personified; it feels like a comfortable living room, equipped with an impressive tap wall of twenty house beers. Oriental rugs and Grateful Dead-esque artwork cover the walls, providing a perfect atmosphere for engaging in conversation while enjoying great beer and food. If you’re looking for a TV screen to stare at, you will be disappointed, but weekly live music is a proven local treat, kick starting national acts like The String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band.

Stout Month & Belgian Month

Home to the legendary Stout Month, Mountain Sun’s February tribute to the often sequestered style, is the busiest month for the brewery, moving almost as many guest and Mountain Sun Stouts as the New York subway moves people.

Pushing the brewers to innovate on what Hutchinson calls “a style with more room to experiment than IPAs,” the Sun has introduced a number of experimental Stouts generating much praise by pub-goers. The Stout Month trend is catching on with several breweries in the U.S. and even one in Europe participating in 2011.

The brewery also complements Stout Month with a corresponding homebrew competition. The winners of this highly esteemed local homebrew battle get to brew their beer at the Sun and see it served, while their bragging rights as local homebrewers skyrocket. Jack Harris’ original idea to pay homage to an under appreciated style has grown from what it was in 1993 to the legendary month it is today. 

This summer, The Vine Street Pub in Denver launched Belgian Month, with 12-15 Belgian brews on tap the entire month. We can only assume it won’t be long before the Belgain Month is celebrated by all three pubs!

With their communal service philosophy, don’t be surprised if you find the general manager washing dishes; everyone does everything at this family of pubs. The community feeling harnessed by the Mountain Sun trinity of breweries captures the essence of craft beer; It’s best enjoyed in the company of friendly people! 

The passion that drives the Mountain Sun is personified by Hutchinson’s background, as his nerdy obsession with homebrewing turned into something more, he quit his “real” job as a public school teacher and, with the blessing of his wife, started hauling grain and kegs for $9 an hour. His labors resulted in the title he wears with pride that embodies innovation and consistency, Head Brewer.  

Bottom line, if you’re in Boulder or Denver, go to one of the Mountain Sun pubs, a pillar of Colorado beer culture.

Alex GearhartAlex Gearhart, current Craft Beer Program intern at the Brewers Association, is a worshipper of the sun and cottonwoods, he can be found homebrewing when not exploring the Colorado Plateau. After completing his BA in Spanish for Business from the University of Colorado at Boulder in May, he plans to take his knowledge from the Napa Valley of Beer to Brazil to start his own brewpub.