18 February 2013

Best Beer Pubs and Breweries in Denver

Good drinks and eats in Denver, Colorado

Colorado has a booming beer business. Our small city is filled with excellent beer halls and small breweries. If you are planning to visit the wonderful state of Colorado, and more specifically the city of Denver, for the upcoming North American Handmade Bicycle Show (February 22-24, 2013) or the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (August 19-25, 2013), or any Rockies baseball game, Broncos football game, Nuggets basketball game, Avalanche hockey game, or maybe you live here and are out cruising on your bike - stop in for a beer.

Beers and bikes just sort of go together. Remember my story about signing up for the Bruges and Brews class, well at that class, which covered the topics of beer and art in Belgium, I met Jeremy Schwartz. Jeremy knows beers. Especially Belgian beer and local brews. You could say it is a hobby of his; I say it makes Jeremy an invaluable guy to know.

Jeremy made a map of the best beer places in the Denver area. A google map that will ensure you are never too far away from your next excellent pour. Not only do these places have beer, but they have good food as well. Here's the awesome link (good as gold):

Link: The coolest Beer map of Denver & Front Range breweries and pubs ever.
Update: March 1, 2013 - Thanks to Jeremy Schwartz, the beer map has been expanded across the Front Range of Colorado!

Take a gander at the splendor and sustenance awaiting you at these 27 places for beer in Denver:
Breweries and Beer Pubs in Denver, Colorado (Beer map by Jeremy Schwartz) Go to map link

Have lunch and a beer in downtown Denver

If you are visiting Denver for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show at the Convention Center in downtown Denver this weekend (I will be there too), plan on stepping out for a beer in town. Within an easy five-block walk you will find the Yard House (135 beers on tap, standard menu). For a second nearby choice walk to Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen (a bit more unusual fare, menu). There is a new Republica Pizza place going in at the Convention Center (good pizza) but it is not open yet.

Yard House 16th St Mall and Tremont, Sheraton Hotel, 1555 Court Place, Denver, CO 80202 303-572-9273.
Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen 1317 14th St, Denver, CO 80202 (303) 595-4255 (Fri and Sat open at 11:30am, Sun at 2:00pm)
Beer and Eats within an easy walk of the Denver Convention Center  click to enlarge
Yard House beers on tap. ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Euclid Hall around the corner from historic Larimer Street (below)
Larimer Square ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
If you want to venture further away, exit the Denver Convention hall and walk directly to the 16th street Mall, hop on a free mall transit shuttle bus (find the sign and load) and get off 7 blocks northwest at Blake St., where you will be very close to both Lucky Pie Pizza and Taphouse and Freshcraft. Or you may walk to Larimer Street, or to the other breweries in LoDo (Lower Downtown) listed on the beer map above.
Free Mall Ride bus, runs up and down the 16th Street Mall (pedestrian walking zone) in Denver. ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
February is Stout month!

Vine Street Pub, 1700 Vine Street, Denver, CO 80206, (303) 388-2337, map and directions

Be sure to visit Vine Street Pub while in town, it is Stout month, and the joint is hopping. After you have had your fill of bikes at the show, plan on traveling east on 17th Street, just before City Park on the left, you will find Denver's branch of the Mountain Sun Brewery. I visited last weekend and tasted a memorable oak-aged Bourbon Stout with a delicious speakeasy steak sandwich, very delicious (menu). Vine Street has numerous guest beers on tap and the atmosphere is quite Denveresque.
It's Stout Month at Vine Street Pub with lots of beers on tap. I took this photo yesterday! ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
I also visited River North Brewery recently. It has the look of a real tasting room, small, with it's beer brewed on premises. Jeremy recommends his favorite: J.Marie Saison. At the Great Divide Brewery on 22nd & Arapahoe he recommends to try the Belgian seasonal: Orabelle (8.3%). You could make a point of visiting all these places if given the time. The awesome map extends to the Highlands, Golden and Aurora, but not to Boulder, a city with even more breweries.
beers in a row at River North Brewery.  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
River North Brewery, with a small bar and a few tables for tasting. Sit and sip. ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Denver Beer Co located over by the large REI store, is popular and has a big outdoor patio, welcoming if the weather is good. Renegade Brewing is located in a bit of a sketchy neighborhood but plans to open a new location next month near Denver University. Other breweries and bars included on the map of places in or near Denver for a great micro brew on tap include:

Best Beers in Denver can be found at:
Ale House at Amato's 2501 16th St, Denver, CO 80211
Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs 2148 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205
Black Shirt Brewing Co 3719 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205
Cannonball Creek Brewing 393 N Washington Ave, Golden
CAUTION: Brewing Company 12445 E 39th Ave #314, Denver, CO 80239
Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe 534 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project 1441 W 46th Ave Unit 19, Denver, CO
De Steeg Brewing 4342 Tennyson St., Denver, Colorado 80212
Denver Beer Co 1695 Platte St, Denver, CO 80202
Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen 1317 14th St, Denver, CO 80202
Falling Rock Tap House 1919 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202
Freshcraft 1530 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202
Great Divide Brewing Co 2201 Arapahoe St, Denver, CO 80205
Highland Tap & Burger 2219 W 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80211
Hops & Pie 3920 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212
Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery 3200 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80205
Jonesy's EatBar 400 E 20th Ave, Denver, CO 80205
Lucky Pie Pizza & Taphouse 1610 16th St, Denver, CO 80202
Our Mutual Friend Brewing 2810 Larimer st. Denver, CO 80205 (&Food Trucks)
Rackhouse Pub 208 S Kalamath St, Denver, CO 80223
Renegade Brewing Company 925 W 9th Ave, Denver, CO 80204
River North Brewery 2401 Blake St #1, Denver, CO 80205 (drinks only)
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey 200 South Kalamath St. Denver, CO 80223
TAG Burger Bar 1441 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202
Vine Street Pub & Brewery 1700 Vine St, Denver, CO 80206
Wit's End Brewing Company 2505 W 2nd Ave #13, Denver, CO 80219
Yard House 1555 Court Pl, Denver, CO 80202

Belgian beers in Denver

Tomorrow night is our last Bruges and Brews class. We get to go to the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe, a bar and restaurant located a few blocks east of the State Capital Building specializing in food and beer from Belgium. The owner James is giving our final lecture, should be fun. In the coming months, the Cheeky Monk is planning on extending their location on Colfax Ave into the adjoining building next door creating a speakeasy feel with more casual seating and brewing.
Cheeky Monk, Belgian beer in Denver, CO
One of our fellow students in the Bruges and Brews class happened to be the owner of Manneken Frites located in Arvada, serving more authentic frites with a gazillion dipping sauces plus beers on tap. Manneken Frites 5616 Olde Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada, CO 80002
Enjoying real friets in Bruges, Belgium, last spring. ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®

We have focused here on the smaller brewers in town. Denver also has large breweries, restaurant chains, and locations which host parties and beers including Breckenridge Brewery, Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, Denver Chophouse and Brewery, and Blake Street Tavern. There is also the long established Wynkoop Brewing Company, the first place I had a beer when I moved to Denver years ago. I would recommend visiting one of the specialty brew places listed above, over these places.

Vegan, GF or locally grown

If you are not motivated by beer, but looking for eats of the vegetarian, gluten free or organic nature, you'll be happy with Water Course Foods (837 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80203) or their closer to the convention center coffee, bakery and pizza joint City O' City located at 206 E. 13th Ave, Denver, CO 80203. The Kitchen Denver serves locally grown and raised foods, wonderful dishes, located at 1530 16th Street (Entrance on Wazee St.), Denver, CO 80202. Larkburger downtown Denver (2.5 blocks from the convention center) serves a GF burger, fries, chili, and salad at 1617 California Street, Unit B, Denver, CO 80202.

Although Vermont tops the list of U.S. state breweries per capita, they do no produce award winning beer. According to BigThink.com, on the tally of medals awarded at the annual Amercian Beer Festival, Colorado is #2 in the nation.
Top 10 medal-winning states are:
California – 474
Colorado – 322
Wisconsin – 232
Oregon – 170
Pennsylvania – 162
Texas – 133
Washington – 114
New York – 98
Missouri -90
Massachusetts – 76

Accounting for population size, the top 10 with medals per million of inhabitants with a strong micro-brewing tradition would be:
Colorado – 64.4
Oregon – 42.5
Wisconsin – 38.6
Washington – 16.2
Missouri – 15
Pennsylvania – 13.5
Massachusetts – 12.6
Texas – 5.6
New York – 5.1

Related posts by Pedal Dancer:
Tip of the Day: Bruges and Brews
Beers in Belgium
Handmade Bicycles