Steamboat Springs There may be a new hot spot in town, both literally and figuratively. With the newly installed 6,000-pound, wood-fired oven, which burns at about 700 degrees, the Mountain Tap Brewery brings exciting food options and a variety of in-house brews to Yampa Street in downtown Steamboat Springs.
Wendy and Rich Tucciarone met in Steamboat in the early 1990s and, after a bit of moving around, made their way back to town five years ago. It had been a dream of theirs for more than 20 years to open a brewpub, but the real dream was to do it in Steamboat.
“It’s been great, busy, beyond our expectations,” Wendy Tucciarone said.
“The beer and pizzas are flying out of here — we’ve been open for two weeks, and we already have regulars,” added Rich Tucciarone, who not only co-owns the business with his wife but also serves as brewmaster.
With a degree in food science and fermentation, Rick said developing the various brews is both an art and a science that relies on precision and cleaning.
“We want the same batch of beer to taste the same every time,” he said, adding that consistency and quality are equally important factors.
Currently, Mountain Tap offers seven craft beers on tap, however, as the middle of the week approaches, two more will be added. The beer menu includes not only a detailed explanation of each beer but also provides a bitterness rating, alcohol by volume and original gravity.
“Eventually, we will get up to 12 beers on tap,” said Wendy.
“We’ll have three to five mainstays and another three to six rotating, changing a bit with the seasons or on a whim,” Rich added. “So far, everything we’ve brewed has been very favorably received."
On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the brewery will be open for lunch beginning at noon, and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the large garage doors that open to the outside will not be raised until 3:30 p.m. Closing time is 10 p.m. nightly, and the brewery is closed Mondays.
“I think we just look forward to it being a community gathering place,” said Wendy. "Local residents are our primary focus; we want to make them happy.”
Not only does the brewery offer all house-brewed beers but also a wide selection of small plates, salads, pizzas, entrees, desserts and even kids’ plates, or 'little toots,' as the Tucciarones call them.
“Everything about the menu is designed around the wood fire; it’s our only cooking vessel,” explained chef Chereen Leong. “We wanted to make it really simple but also really delicious.”
“We wanted to do a little array of everything,” Leong said. “The unexpected thing is, you will taste the fire on all the dishes.”
The brewery also is focused on trying to locally source anything not house-made.
A few unique features at Mountain Tap include community-style seating on Routt County beetle kill tables, an open-air feeling inspired by large garage doors that blend the indoor-outdoor seating and a kids corner, which the owners have dubbed as the "Lego Lounge."
In addition, a community initiative program — called Token Tuesday — will be offered every Tuesday. Currently, Routt County Riders, Friends of the Yampa, Steamboat Dance Theatre and Yampa Valley Sustainability Council are the nonprofits who will benefit from the program. Local nonprofits can apply to be featured each month.
“Anyone who comes in and purchases a beer (on Tuesdays) gets a little wooden token (and) can choose which beneficiary gets that token, and every token is worth a dollar," Wendy said. "It’s a great way to give back to the community."
“We’re having fun, so we hope you come and have fun with us,” Leong said.