Pub Talk

Top 10 Craft Beer Bars in Denver

Colorado’s Rocky Mountain highs don’t just come from the views – or the dope – there’s also Denver’s craft brewery scene to savour. As the city’s Great American Beer Festival begins we pick 10 of its great drinking dens.

Top 10 Craft Beer Bars in Denver

1. Wynkoop Brewing Company

Denver’s original craft brewery, Wynkoop has been around since 1988, but age hasn’t stopped it experimenting: gummy bears, green chillies, and Rocky Mountain oysters (otherwise known as bull testicles) have all made it into Wynkoop’s brews. In a former Victorian warehouse, it has pressed-tin ceilings, arched windows, and hardwood floors, making Wynkoop an elegant place to enjoy a pint and maybe a dish from the beer-infused menu (soups and salads from $6, burgers and sandwiches from $9 ). Choose the Rail Yard Amber Ale ($5) and you’re in good company: it’s what President Obama and Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, one of Wynkoop’s original founders, enjoyed over a game of billiards here in 2014.

 

2. Great Divide Brewing Co

With 18 Great American Beer Festival medals to its name, Great Divide is often packed shoulder-to-shoulder at weekends. However, it’s worth squeezing into the red-brick taproom, in an old dairy processing plant, to sample some of its 16 award-winning beers. A popular brew is the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, which is bold, malty – and infused with locally roasted coffee. Mind you, at 9.5% ABV, you might want to line your stomach with something from the nearby food trucks first. If things get too crowded, check out Great Divide’s barrel bar in the RiNo Art District, which has plans for a new brewery, restaurant, and taproom.

The Great Divide
Image by: RJ Sangosti/Denver Post via Getty Images

 

3. Baere Brewing Co.

Baere may be next to a tax advice office in an old strip mall, but don’t let its neighbour fool you. Inside, this small brewhouse is furnished with reclaimed wooden pallets and has a bar made from old boxcar flooring. It also serves wonderful beers with a slight Belgian bent. Grab a game of Connect Four and enjoy a pint of C3(i)PA, a light and tangy pale ale with citrusy overtones ($5), or perhaps a Big Hoppy Brown for something dark, roasty, and sweet ($5). Appearances can be deceptive.

 

4. Ratio Beerworks

Punk rock meets craft beer at Ratio, where beers named after bands are displayed above the bar on an illuminated bulletin board with movable letters – the kind more commonly seen outside gig venues. One of Denver’s newest breweries (it opened in February 2015), Ratio has six flagship beers on tap, each with its own distinct flavour and finish. Most popular are Repeater, an extra pale ale ($5), and Dear You, a French saison ale ($6). Ratio’s taproom is a riot of colour, with geometric wallpaper, canary-yellow bar stools, and industrial red-trim benches, while the patio is the perfect spot for a game of corn hole or ladder golf.

Ratio Beerworks
Image by: Ratio Beerworks

 

5.Trve Brewing Company

For those who want their suds with a side of heavy metal, Trve (pronounced “True”) takes regular brews and cranks them up to 11. But the sour and barrel-aged beers at this shotgun shack-esque taproom – all black walls, dark wood, and Tribulation (death metal, now that you ask) blasting from the speakers – attract more than just metalheads. From Wanderlust, a Belgo-American pale ale fusion ($5) to Possession, a hoppy saison ($6), there’s something for everybody.

 

6. Vine Street Pub & Brewery

From the cosy living room atmosphere to the patio shaded by honey locust trees, laid-back Vine Street is the epitome of Colorado. Instead of the widescreen TVs found in bars across the US, the walls are adorned with psychedelic rock posters and striking chalkboard art, which is wiped away and replaced every few months. Award-winning brews include the hoppy Colorado Kind Ale and Illusion Dweller IPA (both $5). If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, Vine Street’s locally sourced food menu has 12 award-winning burger combinations, including local favourite Junk Burger: bacon, cheese, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and roasted garlic mayo ($9.45).

Vine Street Pub
Image by: Rich Vossler Photography

 

7. Spangalang Brewery

In homage to the Five Points neighbourhood it calls home – once a hotbed of the American jazz scene – Spangalang takes its name from a jazz term referring to a cymbal pattern. Take a seat at the bar, crafted from Douglas fir, and check out the vintage album cover wall art as you choose from a menu of IPAs, Belgians, sours and saisons – just what you’d expect from the three former Great Divide craft brewers who founded it. Sugarfoot ($4), a Belgian beer spiced with coriander, orange peel and lemon peel, won a gold medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, and a bronze at the 2016 World Beer Cup. While you’re at it, why not order some bacon jalapeño poppers ($6) from the Zivix kitchen next door?

 

8. Black Shirt Brewing Co

Is there a better match than live music and craft beer? Black Shirt doesn’t think so. Guitars and concert posters line the walls of this small-batch brewery, and local bands are queuing up to perform on the makeshift stage built from wooden pallets in its backyard. Following the philosophy: “Do one thing and do it better than anyone else,” Black Shirt only brews red ales – and boy, does them well. The Colorado Red ($6) is strong and malty with a hint of hops and toffee, while the Celery Gose ($5), features yuzu (an Asian citrus fruit), lemongrass, and fresh celery. And while Black Shirt doesn’t do meals, it has perfected the art of bar snacks – serving popcorn, pretzels, beef jerky and pickles.

Black Shirt Brewing
Image by: The Guardian

 

9. Crooked Stave

If you can’t get enough of Belgian sour beers, Crooked Stave has a cult-like following thanks to its barrel-aged experimental beers. In the Source, an artisan market in a former ironworks factory, the look is industrial chic: bare brick, exposed beams and stainless steel. Signature suds include Surette Provision Saison ($6), Nightmare on Brett, aged in red wine casks ($12), and lighter, fruitier sours flavoured with blackberry and passion fruit ($7). No food, but the tacos at Comida, also in the Source, are highly recommended.

 

10. Renegade Brewing Company

With its exposed brick walls, a bar made from exotic woods, and coat racks made from railroad spikes, Renegade is right at home in the hip Santa Fe Art District. A large window offers a view of the 15-barrel brewing system at the back, and outside food trucks serve anything from grilled cheese to Venezuelan empanadas. Always popular is Endpoint Triple IPA ($6.50) and Hiatus ($5.60), a delicious cold coffee-infused oatmeal ale. On a warm day when Renegade opens its garage doors to let in the sun, you’d be hard-pushed to beat it.

Renegade Brewery
Image by: The Guardian

Shared from: The Guardian

 

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