Snowbank Brewing Company is holding its own in the shadow of its bigger brothers. Tucked neatly behind Fort Collins Brewery at the northern end of Lemay Avenue, the city’s newest brewery has a certain buzz about it. A sophisticated modern taproom – with elegant rail lighting, the scent of freshly-laid wood floors, and a unique quartz bar – Snowbank relies on its beers and charm and not much more. And this seems to be enough, as the taproom with seating for nearly 60 seems to always be full.

No television, no dart board, no pool table to be found. What you will find is people enjoying complex beers like the Snow Squall Black IPA – dark, hoppy and flavorful – and 47 1⁄2 Stout – an American Stout with a dark-roasted coffee and earthy hops flavor that makes it very palatable even to those who don’t like dark beers. The lack of extra stimulus creates a necessity for conversation, creating a unique atmosphere full of laughter, conversation and excitement.

Dogs milled around my feet as they dangled happily from my barstool. Children played while parents and friends boasted and bellowed in a way only beer can cause. The two bartenders hopped from one customer to the next, ensuring mine and my friends’ glasses never went empty. Reasonably priced for a Fort Collins brewery, Snowbank’s flagship beers are all glorious in their own way. Their Moon Arête Wheat, an unfiltered Belgian Ale, goes great with a splash of juice or on its own. Get a flight! Trust me!

My usual, 3 beers, ran me $20 with the tip, but was worth every penny. Though Snowbank doesn’t have a food menu, there has been a food truck out front every time I’ve visited there. Parking doesn’t seem to be much of an issue here either, with dedicated parking on the front and side of the building. Finding a place to park yourself inside seems to be a bigger challenge, especially on the weekends. The second time I went to Snowbank – with a friend on a warm Saturday afternoon – there were no seats available. We ended up drinking our beers while standing awkwardly in a corner before retreating to a less crowded neighbor. This problem, if you can call it that, should solve itself once the patio is finished and approved by city council, though neither bartender could give a solid date to when that would happen.

All in all, Snowbank has a level of sophistication you don’t find at many of the other area breweries – but in the best of ways. Complex beers at a reasonable price, an elegant taproom, a refreshing clamor that comes with satisfied customers. Each new brewery has to carve its own niche to set itself apart – and above – its competitors. I think Snowbank’s packed taproom shows that it’s doing just that.