SNOWMASS VILLAGE - If there's one thing we anticipate most about Westin's arrival to Snowmass, it's the addition of new slopeside dining options that kick us out of our veteran comfort zones and hurl us into a short-lived life of a restaurant virgin. The glistening floors, the freshly sanded barstools, the untapped kegs of beers we've never heard of, a whirlwind of new hearty tastes for the famished skier, and a brand new staff of service folks waiting to respond at the lift of a finger. Sure, we'll have to coexist with the crowds of hungry tourists scraping their ski boots across the polished oak floors and desperately waving down a nonchalant bartender for a drink, but that's OK: We will go because we are locals, and it's our duty to look after the new kids in town.
One place in particular, the New Belgium Ranger Station, merits not only a cold slopeside beer, but also a quick bite on the patio before clicking back in on the hill. Under the direction and ownership of Patrick Wasserman, the Ranger Station will operate independently of the Westin and cater to a culture of beer drinkers from all over the world.
With a soft opening the week of Thanksgiving, offering a 10 percent discount on beers for locals, Wasserman discusses the approach behind the Ranger Station and his anticipation for a successful season.
Snowmass Sun: What exactly is the inspiration behind the New Belgium Ranger Station?
Patrick Wasserman: I've always been thoroughly inspired by New Belgium Brewing, of Fort Collins. A lot of people are familiar with the brewery, but they aren't necessarily familiar with the culture behind it. It's in my interest to bring an affiliate bar that will share their values and integrate ideals of sustainability, community and fun.
SS: What varieties of beer and food options can we expect to see at the Station?
PW: We will offer 10 beers on tap and 11 varieties of New Belgium, from Fat Tire and Ranger IPA to the more esoteric, limited release beers of the Lips of Faith series. The beer offerings will be accompanied by a full bar along with a menu of beer-focused food pairings consisting of soups, sandwiches, waffles and pretzels.
SS: What kind of clientele do you hope to cater to most?
PW: I think we sit somewhere between casual and upscale, and by that we hope to bring a large diversity of locals and tourists from all over under a common passion and understanding for good beer.
SS: Do you expect to offer any kind of entertainment this season, aside from the satisfaction of tasty brews?
PW: Yes. We plan to use the amenities of the Westin, including the patio, on-slope stage, fire pit and outdoor heating. Snowmass Hospitality will offer s'mores by the fire for kids twice a week, and I also plan to host musical entertainment throughout the season. We will have a 70-inch projector inside for the showings of games and movies as well.
SS: What are the operating hours for the season, and what do you look forward to the most?
PW: We will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday. I look forward to a season of fun with tourists and locals who will hopefully identify the Ranger Station as a favorite place to hang out with friends over local beers and good eats.