The Jailhouse

Craft Beer Bar

The Jailhouse is a craft beer bar located in the historic 1880s jailhouse in Buena Vista, Colorado. Featuring 10 rotating taps of craft beers from across Colorado, the United States, and abroad, plus bottles cans, and wine, The Jailhouse offers something for every palate.

Elevation Outdoors Magazine - 5 Unique Places to Drink Beer in Colorado

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Brewtography_Jailhouse Front.jpg

The Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar  | Buena Vista

A historic jailhouse from the 1800s turned popular local hangout, The Jailhouse in Buena Vista is the place to grab a craft beer in Chaffee County. Checking out the beautiful jailhouse-inspired interior is worth the trip alone, but the 10 rotating drafts filled with some of the best beer in the country make this small town gem a must-visit this summer. 

Main Street America - Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

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Filling vacant spaces on Main Street is often one of the most challenging aspects of downtown development. Many communities have struggled with the ghastly fissures in their urban fabric dating back to the days when urban renewal sought to modernize through demolition. Downtown Cheyenne has an empty hole since a fire nearly took down the entire block in 2004. Despite a variety of efforts, including the recent narrow defeat of a tax ballot election to build a children’s museum, the persistent hollow continues to cast a dismal pallor over the area.  In contrast, the Main Street Program in Laramie, Wyoming, is thriving, having successfully cultivated millions of dollars to help fill these vacant, blighted spaces with permanent structures.

Indeed, some communities are succeeding in transforming these forgotten spaces into assets that encourage residents and visitors to engage with its surrounding businesses. One of the best examples comes from Main Street Buena Vista, Colorado, where several vacant lots have been converted into active patio spaces that help to extend the continuity beyond what would otherwise be a deterrent to a cohesive urban fabric. A long-held urban design principle indicates that visitors will only tolerate a small percentage of void space before they decide that it’s “time to turn back.” Too many gaps in your Main Street subtlety indicate to the casual stroller that they have reached the end of the district, and further wandering could lead to a waste of time (at best) or into the sketchy fringe of downtown where safety could be compromised. This is the worst-case scenario, particularly if your business is just beyond the gap.  

The Jailhouse Craft Brew Bar (below) has occupied a 19th century lockup since summer of 2016. The 1,000-square-foot space is cozy, with the number of taps doubling the stools at the bar, where you can find out every detail you’d like to know about brews from Colorado and the west. Yet despite the building’s small footprint, the crowds the Jailhouse can accommodate are immense, thanks to the taproom’s creative annexation of adjacent spaces. 

From the moment you arrive at Jailhouse, you know it’s going to be a pleasurable experience, with every detail of the space well-executed. Stepping into the courtyard through the iron cell door, the colors and textures of the space lend a sense of comfort—you know you’re going to want to stay a while.  And thanks to the exquisite beer selection, you might never want to leave.

As for the details, the jail yard is defined by a low fence, punctuated by taller window and doorway features that help to define the space. Several smaller gathering areas are clustered along the boardwalk spine interspersed with trees, shrubs and seasonal plantings. Overhead, stretched canvas tenting helps to dissuade the southern exposure during the sunny summer afternoons.   

Taking stock of all seasons, the summer warmth and need for shade transitions well into the colder winter months where you can gather respite around the fire pit.  No detail has been overlooked, with barrels having been transformed into Adirondack-style chairs from which to sip your saison. 

Matching well-executed business concepts with quality placemaking is a recipe for success on any Main Street. What owner Sarah Haughey does is not so much picking quality beer, but rather curating an experience for her patrons’ enjoyment. This authentic approach to creating an experience-centered happening every time you walk through the door brightens Jailhouse’s prospects for prosperity. Sarah’s penchant for finding great new brews to sample leaves visitors with a tough decision each time they walk in the door. And the rolling selection only lasts as long as the keg; each brew is replaced once they run out, so every visit is a new discovery. Only one problem; if you discover something you really like, it could be gone the next day, so drink up! 

Just one success story in a community would be enough, yet Buena Vista has several great examples.  (Actually, they have two others on the same block accompanying the Jailhouse.)  Maybe it’s something to do with craft beverages, but one of the other great examples—across the street and a block down—also specializes in local spirits.  Only this time, the brew is nurtured (locally) under the watchful eye of Lenny Eckstein who migrated to Buena Vista to take stock of the local whitewater. Emboldened by his own brand of “bootstrap ambition,” the proprietor at Deerhammer has taken his passion to a higher elevation by producing spirits that reflect the care and timing of subtle production nuances. 

Step outside the distillery, and you’ll find yet another great courtyard space to occupy your time. Main Street Buena Vista has taken full advantage of local metal artisans to personalize just about every empty cranny. One of my favorite transitions between the public realm and observation deck outside Lenny’s place sits adjacent to Deerhammer. When the sun shines just right, their logo is projected across the sidewalk with a combination of materials and textures that demonstrate how important the distiller takes his craft.

When asked about the vacant space beyond the whiskey-garden fence, Eckstein muses that one day he might get his act together and build on. But until that day comes, he’s lined up one of the best food trucks in the valley ensure that the Moscow Mules he serves don’t kick you too hard.

The story doesn’t end there, but you’re just going to have to take a visit to experience all the great things happening in Buena Vista. (By the way, before you go, make sure you know how to say Buena—long on the “U” and ignore the “e”—otherwise they’ll laugh you right out of town.) Other great spots to check out include the People’s Stage, a project supported by Colorado Main Street to help bring live music to Main. Definitely don’t miss the local testament to Park-ing Day in front of the Lariat at 206 E. Main Street.  It’s a great example of how converting just a few parking spaces can create activity while focusing attention on the quality of place.

Whatever you do on Main Street, be sure to Mind the Gap! 

Elevation Outdoors Magazine - Best of the Rockies 2017

Best of the Rockies 2017 - Best Après Spot

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How is it even possible to choose the best businesses, destinations and events in the Rocky Mountain Region? 

We trust our readers. So we asked them to nominate and then vote with their hearts in categories in a region that includes Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Of course, there is no one single best out there, but the winners here garnered the love and admiration of the people who trust this magazine as their source to go outside and play.

Best Après Spot

The Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar — Buena Vista, CO

Craft beer and jail? It’s a match made in heaven. Plus, the combination of an exceptional beer list and history and decor put this spot over the top.
Runners Up: T-Bar Steamboat, Upslope Brewing Company

Denver Post - Beer in Review 2016

Beer in Review 2016: Best in Colorado beer from Sarah Haughey of Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar


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To pick Colorado’s top craft beers and breweries in 2016, the Denver Post surveyed more than two dozen brewers and experts to reflect on the year in beer and look forward to 2017.

The fifth installment in the 6th annual Beer in Review series features Sarah Haughey, the owner ofJailhouse Craft Beer Bar in Buena Vista.

Haughey is the former marketing director for Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project in Denver and Elevation Beer Co. in Poncha Springs. She opened the Jailhouse on July 14. The craft beer bar takes the name of the old jailhouse building on East Main Street in Buena Vista and features 10 rotating taps and a curated bottle list. She tastes a lot of different Colorado craft beers: “We only buy one keg of everything so when it kicks, we put something completely different on,” she said.

Here are Sarah Haughey’s picks for 2016:

Favorite Colorado beer of the year: Casey Brewing & Blending Hop Mess. I love everything that Troy Casey releases from his facility in Glenwood Springs, but the Hop Mess was a different beer than the fruit sours and saison we’ve all come to love from Casey. This beer was delicate yet sharp in its hoppiness. A classic saison base with all the carbonation and a hop profile to compete with the best IPAs. Casey’s knowledge of yeast and fermentation is what makes this beer so special: it is smooth, dry, no tartness. Despite noticeable carbonation, it is not cloying in any way and it lacks the prevalent phenolics that so many heavily hopped wild ales can produce. I have only had one 750ml bottle of Hop Mess, and it was very early in the year, but it still stands out as a highlight.

Favorite Colorado brewery of the year: This is a very hard question, but Comrade. While they are best known for their Superpower IPA — and I do love me some Superpower — these guys are a go-to for not just their hoppy options. They kill it with pretty much every style they produce. Even beers I wouldn’t normally order, I enjoy a pint to the last sip. I must include a very close second: 4 Noses Brewing. If you haven’t made it out to their gorgeous brewery and taproom in Broomfield and tried all their amazing beer, do so.

Favorite new Colorado brewery: With living in the mountains and opening The Jailhouse, I sadly did not make it to many breweries that have opened this year. I did, however, make it to Bierstadt Lagerhaus and it did not disappoint. Bill Eye and Ashleigh Carter can produce lager to rival the Germans with their traditional copper brewhouse and horizontal lagering tanks. Bierstadt Pilsner and Helles are definitely desert island beers.

Colorado brewery to watch in 2017: Black Project. James and Sarah Howat are currently well underway on the expansion of their barrel room and brewery, which will now include a custom-built coolship. Previously a side project to the now-retired Former Future Brewing, Black Project is the whole shebang, focusing on wild ales and all kinds of experimental brews. I was honored to have the first ever keg of Black Project on tap at The Jailhouse, and I can’t wait for many more in the future. Big things are sure to come out of this science lab, ahem, brewery.

Most notable craft beer trend in 2016: Continued buyouts within the industry were a huge trend in 2016. Sure, Big Beer has been buying up more craft brewers and nestling them in their newly developed craft-beer division, but we also started to see buyouts elsewhere in the industry. It’s now not just brewery buyouts, but homebrew shop buyouts and distributor buyouts. A local surprise was Breakthru distributing buying out C.R. Goodman. I think we are going to see more of that.

Craft beer trend to watch in 2017: The redefining and “Americanization” of old/forgotten styles, like we have seen with the gose and now the grisette, and years ago the saison. Also, a continued growth in lagers on the craft scale. There has been a huge focus on unique ales in Colorado but just now we are seeing craft lagers, hoppy pilsners and classic German styles in more and more brewery repertoires. I think this also has to do with the fight against Big Beer — most of us still enjoy a down-the-gullet, light, American-style lager, but now more craft brewers are saying, “Yeah, we like that too — but it doesn’t have to be macro, try ours.”

DRAFT Magazine - Where to Drink Beer in August

Where to Drink Beer in August

Photo by Scott Anderson.

Photo by Scott Anderson.

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The Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar, Buena Vista, Colorado: Open just a few weeks, the new 10-tap bar debuted with an impressive line-up of beers from Casey Brewing & Blending, Cannonball Creek, Comrade, Melvin, La Cumbre, Perennial, Almanac, Oakshire, and Victory, as well as a small can and bottle list and a few wines. The bar features an original stone wall and beams from when the building was a stable-turned-jail in the late 1800s (spooky!), plus two shady patios, the back version of which hosts food trucks during the bar’s business hours.

303 Magazine - July 13, 2016

19th Century Jail to Re-Open as Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar in Buena Vista 

All photos by Scott Anderson.

All photos by Scott Anderson.

For the original post, click HERE to go to 303 Magazine.

On July 14, Buena Vista’s former jailhouse will get a second chance. The Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar, located on Main Street, has transformed a 19th-century stable-turned-jail into a 1,000 square-foot modern beer bar. 

Showcasing craft beers from all around Colorado, the United States, and even some from abroad, Jailhouse will offer 10 rotating taps. The opening tap list includes beers from Casey Brewing & Blending, Cannonball Creek and more. There is also a curated selection of bottles and cans and a small wine list.

“There is so much great beer out there. In Colorado alone we have over 280 breweries, many of which have never been able to showcase their beer in the Arkansas Valley, until now,” says Jailhouse owner Sarah Haughey. “I want to give the people of Buena Vista and the surrounding area the opportunity to try as much beer as their taste buds can handle. Our selection will always rotate and will always offer something for everyone.”

And while the nature of the jailhouse has changed, the interior still retains much of the history with original stone wall and beams still intact.

Opening weekend and onward, the Jailhouse will be open seven days a week from 2-10 p.m. Monday–Wednesday, 12-10 p.m. Thursday–Saturday and 12-8 p.m. on Sundays.