If the Colorado Springs beer scene has been missing anything – other than, of course, more breweries – it has been a downtown patio with a view of the mountains.
So three cheers to Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., the oldest still-operating brewery in town, which is capping off a major expansion including the second-story patio pictured above. It opened to the public Monday afternoon to rave reviews.
“This is great. It’s something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time and we’re glad it’s here,” said regular Kathy Hawkins, one of the first to enjoy a beer on the new patio.
It’s the most visible element of a $1 million project that will double the brewing capacity and add 100 seats. The brewery, launched in part by now-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, added a second story bar and pool hall in 1996 and a third story event center in 2001.
“Every expansion has kind of been big,” said GM Heather Robinson. “But this is definitely the coolest.”
The brewery and restaurant is at the corner of Pikes Peak and Cascade avenues.
The project came in three months behind schedule, largely due to an old water line and building foundation nobody knew was there, so they had to build a whole new basement. The silver lining: The basement will be used for barrel-aged beers. Phantom Canyon will also begin selling 22-ounce bombers at the brewery and at area liquor stores.
Monday was a “soft opening.” A grand opening is planned for later this summer. A roof will go over the deck next week, and Robinson expects the patio to be open all year. Two of the tables have fire pits, and Phantom Canyon will bring in heaters when the weather turns cold.
The toll the expansion has had on the brewing operation was evident Monday, with just a handful of beers available. Head brewer Alan Stiles said he lost more than a month of brewing in the expansion, so the beer selection has been supplemented with kegs by Breckenridge Brewery, also owned by Denver-based Breckenridge-Wynkoop LLC.
Several of the Breck beers had also run dry by Monday. But never fear. Stiles expects more taps to be flowing each day as the brewing operation ramps back up.
The excitement in the air was palpable, as employees and customers shared high-fives and enjoyed the view.
“It’s a beautiful patio. It’s got a great view. It’s going to be a cool place to hang out and drink beer,” said Stiles.