When you first enter Outer Range Brewing Co in Frisco, CO, a huge mural of Jim Pasholka adorns the wall. Jim started the Snowcap Sled Dogs in Breckenridge, and is a local legend. The mural immediately gives you the feeling of the mountain spirit and community of this brewery. I first visited Outer Range on the Sunday following this year’s Big Beers festival in Breckenridge. At that point they had only been open for about 2 weeks, their opening day was December 26, 2016.
On my initial visit, I met Ryan Chang, one of the co-owners. He told me a little bit about their history and philosophy. I was blown away by their beers, specifically their New England-style IPAs. How can a brewery be so good and only 2 weeks old? I decided I needed to come back and learn more. On my second visit (technically, my third since I stopped for beers the day before the interview), I met with Lee Cleghorn, the sole brewer and co-owner (Lee’s wife, Emily, is also a co-owner). We sat down so I could dive deeper into their history and brewing philosophy.
Lee started brewing in college and continued to brew while he was in the Army. He attended the American Brewers Guild in Vermont and later served as an intern at Other Half Brewing in New York (well-known for their NE-style IPAs). Lee, Ryan and Emily all served together in the Army, where they eventually decided to go into business together. Together, they completed all the work on the brewery, including design and construction of the brewhouse and tap room.
Outer Range’s name comes from a Rudyard Kipling poem, The Explorer:
“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges-
“Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”
Since the Outer Range crew were all in the military, they moved around often, but all shared a love for the mountains and particularly Summit County. They decided on their current location because of the view; outside the front window, the beautiful mountain ranges add to the atmosphere.
Outer Range specializes in Belgians and IPAs. When I asked Lee if they planned to brew any other styles, for example stouts, he responded “most likely not (but it’s not out of the question)”. He brews what he’s passionate about, and his passion is Belgians and IPAs. The IPAs are mostly the hazy, New England style IPAs, but Outer Range also has a West Coast/NE hybrid on tap as of the writing of this article (more on that in a moment). Outer Range estimates they’ll brew less than 1000 barrels this year, but they have already brewed a staggering 35 different beers in less than 2 months.
Everything is small batch and Lee likes to have different beers on tap constantly. Some of the beers I tried during my visits included:
- The aforementioned West Coast/NE hybrid named Rustic Ways uses Simcoe and Mosaic. It’s hazy, but has that West Coast bite.
- Long Way Home is a Belgian Red with huge notes of banana and caramel. A sweet and sugary treat.
- Corduroy is an IPA brewed with Citra and Waimea, that’s hazy, juicy, citrusy and fantastic. One of my personal favorites.
- Final Summit is a well done, simple and rustic French Farmhouse.
- Hard Breed is a Belgian Dubbel with notes of banana, cloves and caramel and was yet another fantastic treat.
- One More Frontier was another hazy, juicy IPA that I absolutely loved.
I could go on naming the beers I tried and raving about them, but the simple fact is, I didn’t have a single bad beer, not even a single mediocre beer. They were all beers I would rave about. This brewery is not to be missed and I’ve since proclaimed them as one of my top 3 breweries in the state. No shit.
Outer Range does not offer sample flights. Lee’s philosophy is, “to understand a beer, you need to drink the whole beer”. They do provide tasters for free, so you can still test drive the beer before you go full in. Outer Range does not have any flagship beers, but Lee’s favorites are Final Summit French Farmhouse, and Two Pound Tent Double IPA.
Once every few years, a new brewery jumps onto the scene that blows your mind. The perfect combination of awesome beers, community spirit, atmosphere, and the people all come together in a perfect storm of perfection. I found that brewery in Outer Range Brewing Co. I feel pretty passionate about this brewery and wish them the best of success. I know that I will stop in every chance I get. Keep an eye out for Outer Range, they are not to be missed!
Follow Outer Range Brewing Co on Facebook for updates and events. They’re located at: 182 Lusher Ct, Unit 2, Frisco, CO.
By: Scott Steigerwald
Photography: Aixa Roche