|Why Pagosa Springs?
“I was looking for a sense of community,” said Tony Simmons, owner and proprietor of Pagosa Brewing. “I was a company guy. I lived in LA, New York City, London — they were missing a heart and soul. That’s why I moved here — heart and soul, a sense of community.”
Simmons has indeed found his “heart and soul” as his beer garden is the place to be during the summer. On any given night, you’re bound to find the movers and shakers that make Pagosa what it is — enjoying one of Tony’s handcrafted beers, a boutique pizza or some of the many other top-quality food items on the menu.
Like most Pagosa residents, Simmons made a visit in 1996 and made the decision to move here the next year. “My first question was,” he said, “where’s the brewery? It took me almost 10 years to make that happen.”
Pagosa Brewing attempts to create beers from all over the world, not necessarily to suit every taste, but to at least challenge his customers. “People are pleasantly surprised,” he said. “If they don’t like a porter, they’ll try ours and they like it.” Referring to the 10 beers on his “taster” list, Simmons seems to take special pride in turning a non-beer drinker into a beer drinker. “There are no wrong answers here,” he said. “We try to create a beer for every palette.”
He must have succeeded. On the night he was interviewed (in mid-January), a Thursday night, the place was standing-room-only and, in fact, Simmons was called away to help the staff; clearing tables, serving food, tending bar. He did whatever he needed to do to proselytize on the benefits of beer.
“You know, studies have shown that people who drink two beers a day live longer than people who drink none at all. I think it has less to do with antioxidants than the relaxation factor. You have a couple of beers, you relax, the stress goes away.”
A product of two brewing schools, Simmons has also been tapped as a judge for various judging contests across the country. Not that he needs any other credentials: with over a dozen national and international awards for his beer-brewing acumen, Simmons has created beers of some distinction. Yet, his place is family friendly, which lends to its popularity with residents and visitors alike.
“When I was living in London, family was part of the ‘pub culture’ and that’s what I’ve tried to recreate. A place where people — where families — come to meet. A social center, where people in Pagosa come to meet, have a beer and have a good time.”
If that is what Simmons has set out to do, he has succeeded. His brew pub is where families come together, in summer or winter.