Last weekend I was hanging out in Leadville, CO.  Leadville’s a cool town, but is currently lacking a brewery.  I knew of a place called Amicas Pizza and Microbrewery in Salida, only an hour south.  I’d been there once before and remembered liking the beer a lot so I wanted to go back for a tour.

Amicas sits in old town Salida at about 7,000 feet, surrounded by gorgeous, 14,000-foot peaks.  The town’s local, artsy vibe and outdoor lifestyle make for a great place for a brewery.

I had left a message for the head brewer, Mike LaCroix, before we headed down from Leadville hoping for a tour.  When we got there he wasn’t in, but we were told he’d be by soon.  So what else was there to do but order some food and a taster!

They have a few “staple” beers that are always on tap, but because they brew on a 7-barrel system they have the liberty to experiment and change out beers pretty frequently.  On this day the beers that were available were Bomber Blonde Ale, Rex’s Amber, Big S Brown, Headwaters IPA, Momma’s Milk Stout, Piney2 DIPA, and Weekender Imperial Red Ale.  A lot of breweries that I’ve been to I end up having favorites.  I’ll gravitate toward 2 or 3 kinds.  But I honestly couldn’t make up my mind here.

Even the Blonde was full of flavor.  Their brown is hands down the best I’ve had.  And the Imperial Red was awesome.  And of course I loved the Double IPA, which has won a few awards.  Other beers they sometimes have on tap are Ute Trail Pale Ale, Saison Salida, and Black Beard’s Delight, a German style Black Lager.

Exceptional beer goes hand-in-hand with exceptional food.  They’re pizzas are all wood-fired.  We ordered the Campobossa, which had sausage, mushrooms, goat cheese, mozzarella, and roma tomatoes on it.

Right when the pie came Mike, the head brewer, showed up so I decided to take the tour and talk to him a bit before chowing down.

He was a super cool dude.  His knowledge of beer and experience in the industry was very impressive.  He got his start at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Portland, Oregon.  He got introduced into the beer scene by some of the people that headed some of Portland’s great breweries and decided that was the world for him.  He’s brewed for several other breweries including two in Colorado, Tommyknocker Brewery and Golden City Brewery.  He’s been at Amicas since 2002.

After he told me a bit about his past and how he got to where he is, he showed me around his brewing facilities.

They run on a very sophisticated system here.  Wink, wink…

A lot of the brewing equipment is made from old dairy tanks.  Mike had a Raspberry Porter that wasn’t quite finished carbonating, but he tapped a little of it for me to try.  It was surprisingly good for a fruit beer.  I’m not normally into fruit beers, but it tasted like raspberry, chocolate cake!

Mike told me that the building that Amicas was in used to be the town’s old mortuary.  The rooms that he brewed in were the old viewing rooms for all of the bodies.  Apparently some of the staff has had paranormal encounters with some spirits in the building, but Mike hasn’t ever seen anything.

After the tour we sat back down so I could try some of the pizza.  Thankfully my friends saved me some.  It was super tasty.  They were having a Brewer’s Dinner that week on Wednesday, which I was bummed I couldn’t make it to, but I love events like that.  They have them pretty frequently so I’m sure I’ll make it up there for one someday.

Mike also broke out a bottle of their Green Chile Ale for us to try.  It was amazing how the chile really came through.  It was just like biting into a jalapeno or habenero, but the maltiness helped balance the heat.

Amicas ended up being one of my new favorite breweries in the state.  Mike was a great host.  I can’t wait to make it back up there to see what’s different on tap.