Horsefly Brewing and Phelanies Speakeasy are the best locations for local libationsOct 03, 2022 02:25PM ● By Leanne Goebel
Chances are if you live in Montrose or have visited recently, you’ve been to Horsefly Brewing Company.
Horsefly’s beer is brewed locally using the finest and freshest ingredients. The brewery also has a full food menu featuring fare from appetizers and wings to salads, burgers and sandwiches.
Phil and Melanie Freismuth opened Horsefly in September 2009. Phil had been brewing beer since 1999 and started a home brewers club where he met his former business partner, Nigel Askew. They visited a small brewery in Paonia, liked the mellow and friendly vibe, and thought they might try to open something like it in Montrose.
What began as a small tasting room in the front office of a storage unit rental quickly took off.
“It just blew up,” Phil said. “I was a police officer, and Melanie worked in the schools at the time. We both had full-time jobs.”
A year later, they moved the brewery to its current location at 846 E. Main St. (there’s a second location inside the Montrose Regional Airport). Eventually, they added the kitchen, even though Melanie swore she’d never be in food service again.
They initially rented their kitchen space to a couple who made food for the brewery. However, when they soon left for South Dakota, the Freismuths continued serving food.
“We kept some of their recipes, came up with some of our own, and our staff added items to the menu,” Phil said.
In 2018, the couple opened Phelanies, a Prohibition-style speakeasy, at 129 S. Junction.
They leased the space and gutted it to open the secret bar that requires a password for entry. (Not to worry, it’s printed on the bottom of every Horsefly receipt and available on Phelanies’ Facebook page.)
Phelanies’ cocktails are crafted by Dave Warner and his brother Braden. Dave, who worked at Horsefly, was dabbling in mixology.
“He’s really into cocktails and knows their history and how to make them,” said Phil.
The Freismuths also took Dave and some other employees to Denver for mixology classes.
Phelanies’ signature drink is the Old Smokey, an old fashioned served in a stave-smoked glass with whiskey fire. The speakeasy also has a light food menu featuring petite beef Wellington and duck wontons.
After 10 years in business, the Freismuths faced an unexpected challenge—COVID.
“We did carry-out and delivery, and were busier than I anticipated,” said Phil. “We were able to reopen and grow back our business. The community supported us. We’ve been really blessed.”
Phil and Melanie are also big supporters of the community. The couple has staff members that have worked for them for over a decade.
“If you take care of your staff, they will take care of you,” Phil added.
Depending on the style of beer, Horsefly brews 250 to 350 gallons per batch. They have seven regular brews as well as seasonal and guest taps.