Most Boulderites have been to the Walnut Brewery at least once. After all, it was established 25 years ago in 1990 and considers itself “Boulder’s Original Brewpub”. (Boulder Beer Company was founded in 1979 as Boulder’s – and Colorado’s – first microbrewery.)
However, I find many of my Boulder friends don’t often want to go there, either for beers or food. Perhaps it is the limited beer selection, the sort of simplistic pub-style menu, or the semi-corporate atmosphere of the place but I have always understood this reluctance, even though the establishment is walking distance from my home.
Now, however, at least one thing has changed for the better and I would recommend – ye long-time Boulderite – another visit to the Walnut Brewery.
The food menu at the restaurant was recently redone and I now find it a very positive brewpub menu that walks a nice line between pub fair and more elegant food. Entrees include items such as Ponzu Salmon, Bison Fajitas, and Cajun Fish Tacos as well as more standard items such as Chicken Enchiladas and New York Strip Steak. The menu offers five very good pizzas, a choice of eight burgers, and a whole range of appetizers, salads, and sandwiches. In short, there are options enough to please almost everyone and the food is generally high-quality and in good quantity.
The brewpub also has a nice happy hour, which is oh-so-important to many Boulder locals. Running from 3-6 PM and 10PM to close every day, beers are only $3, cocktails are $5, small pizzas are also $5, and appetizers range mostly from $4 to $5.50. You can’t beat those prices in downtown Boulder.
Just to be clear, the Walnut Brewery is not attempting to be a local foods proponent – I couldn’t find the words Boulder or Colorado in any food descriptions on the menu. It is also not attempting to waive a healthy eating banner, caterer to special diets, or be haute cuisine.
I also still find the beer selection to be amazingly limited for an establishment that brews its own beers. The pub has seven beers on tap, five of them fairly common styles (lager, pale ale, brown ale, IPA, and Irish red) that do not change plus a rotating wheat and rotating dark beer. Frankly, the flavor of the beers is a bit common as well. This is no Avery Brewing where you can find 20 very distinct beers on tap, most of which make your taste buds hum. This is, instead, a brewpub that focuses at least as much on the food as the beer.
But if you are looking for good food, a friendly atmosphere, an excellent happy hour, professional service, and reasonable beers brewed on site, the Walnut Brewery is a good option.