Earlier this week, my wife and I went to visit friends in Denver, Colorado. Despite being a beer mecca, we initially planned on picking one or two can’t miss places and not make it all about just beer. Our friends on the other hand, had other plans. First, they booked us a spot on the New Belgium brewery tour, which you have to book well in advance. Then, for Christmas they brought us a Denver Pub Pass, which awards the bearer with a free drink at 20 locations around town. Knowing full well we couldn’t hit all the places, we planned our adventure for four days to hit the ones that we could and then we left behind the Pub Pass for other friends to take advantage of it.
We managed to hit 15 locations and I logged 87 samples on Untappd. A full 2/3 (or more) of those were simply a single sip, but that still counts as “tasted”. I’ll give a brief description of each place and one of the standout beers from the tastings.
Seedstock Brewing (Denver): The first place we went was walking distance from our friends house. Their new “local” if you will. A small place, but good beer and a friendly staff. A very nice start to the trip.
Standout Brew – Barrel aged scotch ale
Black Shirt Brewing (Denver): Another favorite of our friends haunts, this place had a hopping bar with some really interesting artwork. The staff went out of their way to find a hidden keg of something that was no longer on the menu but still available.
Standout Brew – Box of Boom Belgian Triple IPA
Crooked Stave @ The Source (Denver): This tap room in a former metal foundry turned restaurant and shopping space had a cool vibe. Unfortunately, the beer was good but the experience not as good. The paper menu listed about 20 beers, with a couple stamped as sold out. But when we got to the bar they only had about 6 things on tap. The servers were very short with us, telling us we could get what we wanted in a bottle, but we wanted a 3oz taster, not a 750ml bottle. We speculated they may not have been prepared to be running out of beer on a busy Friday night, so I’ll give them a little benefit of the doubt for being frantic.
Standout Brew – Blueberry Origins (Barrel aged blueberry sour ale).
Great Divide Barrel Room (Denver): One of two locations in town for Great Divide, the Barrel Room is right across the street from the source. Smallish bar, but nice view of the brewery/barrel storage areas and all kinds of interesting one off beers to try. Interesting experience of how addition is not always a good thing. The Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti was quite good, but honestly the regular plain Yeti was better.
Standout Brew – Yeti Imperial Stout
Cerebral Brewing (Denver): The first stop on day two was this geeky science themed brewery. The taproom is pretty awesome, all the names of the beers are science related, and the beer is pretty good to boot!
Standout Brew – Alternative Facts “0 IBU” Double IPA
Fiction Brewing (Denver): Continuing the geeky themed brewery is this book themed brewery. A tap room full of books and beer styles (not just names) inspired by famous books. Ranging from Moby Dick to Harry Potter and everything inbetween. Great location right on Colfax (one of Denver’s main drags) and great staff.
Standout Brew – Malice and Darkness Russian Imperial stout
Lost Highway Brewing (Denver): Just down Colfax a ways from Fiction is Lost Highway. I’ve seen their stickers around, so I recognized the logo in the Pub Pass and wanted to give it a try. Nice spacious taproom with a nicely varied taplist. Some lagers and lighter beers to balance out the big double IPAs and stouts.
Standout Brew – Longest, Wickedest Wit
Joyride Brewing (Edgewater): Another one really close to our friends house, they had good beer and a great burger food truck outside, but the taproom was really, really loud. I had a hard time hearing my wife sitting right next to me and that gets really tiresome really fast. They allow dogs, and seem very friendly, just maybe visit at a less busy time than Saturday night.
Standout Brew – The Crooked Collusion Imperial Red Ale
Hogshead Brewing (Denver): The final stop of day two, we almost skipped it, but I’m glad we didn’t. The taproom was very hip and modern for a place that serves older English style beers, but they had a decent list to choose from. About half on cask and half on carbonation. This ended up being some of the best beer of the night, so glad we stopped by!
Standout Brew – Double Chin Wag ESB
De Steeg Brewing (Denver): Day three we took it easy, but still managed to hit a couple places. Tucked away, literally, in a back alley in the Tennyson Street neighborhood this place is eclectic. Beer styles ranging from Dutch “House beer” and Saison, to American style Black IPA and a brandy barrel aged Belgian Quad that mostly just tasted like brandy (not a bad thing).
Standout Brew – Dry hopped Saison
Call to Arms Brewing (Denver): Just down Tennyson Street from De Steeg, Call to Arms is themed around family crests and Coats of Arms. Dark wood and metal, tables made out of barrels. Another place that was hopping on a Sunday afternoon and quite loud, but they had a good selection of beers.
Standout Brew – Amigos Borrachos Vienna Lager
Diebolt Brewing (Denver): The final stop for day three was a place our friends raved about, and with good reason. Great variety of beers and we happened to be there the day after they released a barrel aged Russian Imperial stout that was incredible!
Standout Brew – Vladislav Barrel Aged RIS (and the Vanilla Chai Variant)
New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins): Day four we ventured up to Fort Collins for the New Belgium tour before we headed back to the airport. If you haven’t taken the New Belgium Tour I highly recommend it! It’s an awesome, 90 minute tour with 4 free beer samples. They gave us a taste of La Folie Sour Brown ale in the room with all the foeders that they age the sours in. That was one of the coolest parts of the tour. That room smelled like red wine and whiskey. They have a really impressive facility and a very environmentally conscious and employee well-being focused way of doing business.
Standout Brew – 2016 Transatlantique Kriek (Lips of Faith)
Odell Brewing (Fort Collins): Around the corner from New Belgium is another large player in the beer world, Odell Brewing. We didn’t have time for another tour but they have an awesome wood and stone taproom and had a food cart outside with brats and sausages from the grill. They have several different flights available and we tried the Classic flight and the Local flight.
Standout Brew – 90 Shilling Scottish Ale
Left Hand Brewing Co (Longmont): We had time for one more stop between Fort Collins and the airport and Left Hand fit the bill very well. A very cool taproom space and great selection of beers, including their well known Milk Stout.
Standout Brew – Left Hand Milk Stout
So there you have it, a whirlwind tour of the Denver area beer scene, and we barely made a dent. I don’t know when and if we’ll make it back to Denver, but there’s always more beer out there to try!