File the Vintage Moose as a post-skiing stopover this winter; we hit it after early October aspen viewing nearby when we couldn’t get a seat elsewhere in town due to the ongoing worker shortage.
We’re glad we did. It’s a sincere, unpretentious dive with clear community ties, a basic bar with a few craft touches, a mini barbecue sandwich menu, and a great greenhouse-like, attached covered patio room where we sit by a fireplace under taxidermy in various states of disrepair.
Dry-storage boxes count as decor. We drink Idaho Springs’ own Tommyknocker Blood Orange IPA, which finishes with a lovely, bitter orange peel flavor, off draft, and Breckenridge Brewery’s sweet Palisade Peach Wheat from a bottle. For a moment we think of peach schnapps, but then we recall just how much more cloying that is when we get a $3 mystery shot (“Don’t ask what it is” says chalk on the blackboard; the bartender can’t even tell us) which clearly incorporates that sickly synthetic spirit for an unplanned peach-on-peach experience.
Starving, we order pulled pork shoulder and smoked chicken breast sandwiches, a very fair $8.50 that includes a bag of classic Lay’s chips and limp pickle spear.
Pre-prepared, they thankfully arrive within a few minutes with a serviceable, commercial-tasting, black-pepper-leading barbecue sauce on the side, generic bun and notably dried-out meat. The sauce comes to the rescue to moisten bites and the smoke flavor’s respectably strong, so we aren’t unhappy at all.