Banjo Billy’s: Tour Boulder’s Brewpubs by Bus

Boulder is known for many things: The Flatirons, Pearl Street, the University of Colorado Buffaloes. But there is something else that keeps tourists and locals happy: local breweries.

All along the Front Range dozens of local breweries are generating the latest and greatest in beers. The only downside is the distance between the breweries and how to travel safely among them.

inside the banjo billy tour bus
Banjo Billy’s bus is a 1994 refurbished school bus complete with couches, tapestries and a disco ball.

That’s why the creative minds at Banjo Billy’s decided to offer a brewery tour. Pairing up with the West End Tavern on Pearl Street, Banjo Billy’s offers a bus ride to three Boulder breweries (with complimentary beers at each) and a free appetizer at the West End Tavern at the end of the exciting ride.

Banjo Billy was started in 2005 with the eBay purchase of a 1994 school bus. Founder John Georgis began to “refurbish” the bus, adding fence “paneling” to the sides, comfy couches and chairs as interior seats, draping the ceilings with colorful tapestries and adding little touches like disco balls and Christmas lights. He later joined up with now friends and co-workers Drew Neilson and Glenn Locke to form a crew who can guarantee you will have a fun and exciting time on any of the Banjo Billy tours.

After meeting your bus driver at the West End Tavern and after choosing your seat (or saddle) on the bus, you are off to your first brewery, Upslope. Upslope, relatively new to the local brewery scene, celebrated its two-year anniversary in November 2010. What they lack in longevity, they make up for in flavor. Upslope is known for their “crisp, dry” and their “bold, deep, bitter” IPA. Currently Upslope has on tap their IPA, Pale Ale, Whiskey Old Aged Stout, Dry Hopped Pale, Brown and Craft Lager. They also feature seasonal brews like their 2nd Anniversary, Pumpkin Ale and Christmas Ale. Along with selling beers onsite, Upslope distributes to local liquor stores, restaurants and bars and taverns.

The second stop on your brewery tour is Twisted Pine, which Gordon Knight started in 1995 using old New Belgium equipment. Knight first marketed his products low-key to local restaurants and liquor stores. Twisted pine produces only 100 percent natural, unpasteurized pure malt ales. Twisted Pine has 11 different beers on tap, with stable brews such as Honey Brown and Hoppy Boy IPA, along with seasonal favorites like Chai Porter and Mr. Brown Pumpkin Brown. This stop along the tour is especially entertaining when they bring out the frozen T-shirt contest. First team to successfully pull out and wear a Boulder Beer T-shirt from a block of ice wins not only the T-shirt, but another free beer.

Once the excitement of a free T-shirt has worn off, you are on your way to the final tour stop, the Avery Brewing Co., which is tucked behind a self-service car wash. Since 1993 Avery has been brewing beers their way, deciding what they like to drink and what they think tastes good. Avery currently has four year-round ales—White Rascal, IPA, Ellie’s Brown Ale and Out of Bounds Stout—and brews popular seasonal beers like New World Porter and Karma. Avery offers free brewery tours Monday-Sunday. If your friends can’t make it to the brewery, they’re in luck—Avery beer is available at liquor stores from coast to coast.

brew tours
John Georgis, founder of Banjo Billy’s, heads one of the company’s tours through Boulder

Once you’ve had your fill of microbrew beers, you are dropped off at the West End Tavern, where your complimentary appetizer awaits. The West End Tavern has been around since 1987, cooking up tasty meals and serving up mouth-watering beers. Currently the West End Tavern has 20 specialty beers on tap, in case you didn’t get enough at Upslope, Twisted Pine or Avery. The West End also has a full lunch, dinner, happy hour and weekend brunch menu.

You may have heard of the West End on the “Man vs. Food” TV show when Adam Richman failed to conquer West End’s 50-wings-in 30-minutes challenge. If you’re not up for a food challenge, enjoy their yam chips and guacamole or white bean hummus as you and your friends laugh about the good time you just had on the Banjo Billy bus.


For more information, visit