Cross-country road trips are often fueled by music – even the stops for food.
Discovering new music and high-tempo standbys are a brilliant way to pass the time while making your way through the nation’s heartland. As lunchtime nears, the sparse population in western Nebraska and eastern Colorado can leave a carload of people on the edge of their seats as their stomachs grumble for food.
Still miles before the Rockies are even visible, Sterling, Colorado, sits on I-76 more nearly 130 miles northeast of Denver. Holding out for Denver might be advisable, but then small-town gems like Parts & Labor Brewing Company would go undiscovered.
On Main Street of the 18,000-person town, Parts & Labor was the first brewery to open in the state’s eastern plains area. The brewery is therefore a welcome oasis for beer-loving travelers heading west and making their entry into the beer loving state. For a state so well known for its beer, more than a third of it geographically is largely untouched by small, local breweries.
The taproom in a spacious former Cadillac and Pontiac dealership offers a clean, relaxing industrial-themed hangout for the city’s residents and any who might pass through, especially fitting for a long-haul car trip. The taproom rests in the former service bays – Parts & Labor indeed.
Dylan and Kimberly Harford opened the brewery in December 2016 and have been slinging their beers since, with the ideal goal of providing the city’s residents with fresh, tasty beer. In an area of the craft beer rich state which sees more tractors and cows than hops, the Harfords hope to flood the market with suds.
Dylan Harford first ventured into brewing while living in Fort Collins and working as a mechanic. Upon the couple’s return to their hometown of Sterling, the brewery was the goal.
The five-barrel brewing system is enough right now for the city’s beer lovers and makes solid offerings ranging from Camshaft Kölsch to Redneck Mother Citrus IPA to Loose Lips Sink Ships Vanilla Coconut Porter.
With such a small community to serve, the Harfords want to ensure they are doing their part to help local businesses. They've started the charitable Pints for a Purpose program and source their wheat from a nearby family for the brewery’s Haas Local Wheat.
The menu is a simple, yet tasty, assortment of paninis and nachos and sliders. And the music, it’s an eclectic mix of new and old and perfect for inspiring the playlist for the next leg of the road trip.
Whether its rocking to classics like Led Zeppelin, Al Green, or Pink Floyd or jamming to more contemporary artist like Gary Clark Jr., The Black Keys, and Cold War Kids, Parts & Labor’s playlist can keep the drivetrain rolling with up-tempo rock for the next 100 or 1,000 miles.