Denver area breweries and distilleries
I will be out in the Denver area in June for a week and was hoping I could get some insight as to what breweries and distilleries I should check out. Which ones offer tours? Which tours are worth it and which aren't? Does anyone know if Leopold Brothers offers a tour? Their website doesn't say. Thanks in advance.
Greetings. Im assuming you were asking me and not the OP since you mentioned Den[x]Mex? If so then yes I was in town (from Washington DC) second week of July and very much enjoyed my time there. I did go to "Original Chubby's" and I would in no way use the term "healthy" in any kind of context with that place. Its basically the king of high fat gut busting mexican fast food. And I ordered way more then I should have... I would describe it as a step or two up from Taco Bell but in a good way in that its probably not something you want to do too often but there is a time and place for it (worked very well after a day of touring breweries and barely eating anything but left a big cement like deposit in my gut for what seemed like a good 18 hours).
I very much enjoyed Euclid. That was my favorite meal in Denver. The oyster po boy was phenomenal and I could barely contain myself when I tasted the kung pao pig ears (I think thats what they were named). They were like sweet piggy chili meat candy with just enough cooked down melty cartilage for a perfect texture. Er, not sure that description does it justice but it was seriously the best thing I ate in months. The clam chowder poutine was interesting but a little salty and that point I was pretty full and a warm gloppy mess of carbs and gravy and clams was probably a step too far. But I plan on going back and trying the various sausages and getting more pig ear... Have a 4 hour connection in Denver for my trip to Vegas next month and Im seriously tempted to rent a car and run out there and get more... You figure its what 25 minutes from the Airport on a Saturday afternoon?
As for the beer I managed to get myself some kind of bug right before I got there that made me light headed and made swallowing difficult but damned if Im not going to be in Denver for half a week and not sample as much of your great beer as I can choke down so I did manage to at least get full flights from Boulder Beer (at the aiport), Wynkoop, Copper Kettle (a great Berliner Weiss was released while I was there!), Renegade, Denver Beer Co., Hogshead, Strange, Great Divide, Prost and Sandlot, not counting a few locals I had at Falling Rock and at some beer festival they happen to be hosting at Breckenridge the Saturday I was there (you Denverites really dont care if it starts to pour rain while there is live music and beer available do you?). I enjoyed almost everything but realize Ive just only scratched the surface so I intend to go back and further indulge. Thanks for the tips and enjoy Peyton Manning this year.
You guys have so many breweries!! Its overwhelming for a beer head that has 3 days to visit and wants to hit everything from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs and everywhere in between... But cant do it all so I may have to focus on the greater Denver area. My list so far includes:
Copper Kettle Brewing
Wit's End Brewing
De Steeg Brewing
Prost Brewing Company
Our Mutual Friend
Am I missing any MUST HIT places that are great and hard to find outside of the area? Are there any real stinkers on that list not worth going to?
Also, how do the brewery/brew pub/restaurant laws work in this area? I notice a lot of breweries have tasting rooms or tap rooms where you can sit and drink like a regular bar but they generally dont serve food (a lot of "food truck" recommendations on their web pages...). But then there are quite a number of true brew pubs too where they DO serve food. If you had to pick one or two true brew pubs for their FOOD which ones would you recommend? Or are there no real foodie/gastropub style brew pubs in town at all?
Secondly, and excuse my tourist boob question but where does a local go to get the best Rocky Mountain Oysters (heard theres a bar an hour north of town famous for them with multiple varieties but Im thinking theres gotta be plenty in Denver proper). And forgive my ignorance if this is like asking where can I find the best wings or nachos...
Finally, Ive been told to check out the local "Dexmex" cuisine when Im there for Denver's local twist on Mexican food (Chubby's, Jack-n-Grill). Is it worth it or is it a heavy greasy overrated mess (not that i dont like heavy and greasy at times). Is there a better place to try this style or should I just avoid it in the short time Im there?
re: Insidious Rex
I am going to complicate things further for you and have you add Black Shirt Brewing (http://www.blackshirtbrewingco.com/) to your list. They specialize in red ales and currently have a Red Pale Ale, Red Rye, Red Saison, Red Sour Mash Saison, and Red Porter. Everything I have had there has been excellent. I would recommend replacing Our Mutual Friend with Black Shirt as they are relatively in the same area. Wouldn't say Our Mutual Friend is awful, but Black Shirt is really special and in the neighborhood. Just my opinion!
Are there any styles in particular that you are especially interested in seeking out? This might help narrow down your list some if necessary.
Can't help you on any of the food recommendations- haven't gone for Rocky Mountain Oysters or DexMex. Also haven't eaten at any gastropub style brew pubs, but maybe I am overlooking a place.
Thanks for the advice. You know I had looked at Black Shirt but no one I talked to knew anything about them and their web site is very... minimalist so I just kept them off the list for the sake of time. Ill definitely add them though. Any idea of their tasting room hours?
Oh and on styles, Im a big fan of well done sublime old school lagers (thus Copper Kettle and Prost) but when I travel I like to experience whats good locally of ANY style. And frankly you guys have a lot of good local beer. Even nationally known good local beer. The only thing Im not interested in is going to a place thats mediocre to poor simply because its local. So help me weed those out but otherwise anything goes.
re: Insidious Rex
Black Shirt's hours are W, Th, F 5-9 and 2-9 Saturday. Closed Sun, Mon, Tues. Things tend to be quieter there on W and Th and more packed on the weekend.
Of the places on your list, I have only been to TRVE, Wit's End, Prost, Great Divide, and Our Mutual Friend (only been here 18 months and still making my way through Denver's breweries). There aren't any real stinkers there. I was not too impressed with Our Mutual Friend, but only had one beer there so I would hate to write them off on one experience.
Enjoy your trip!
re: Insidious Rex
If you want to try an odd brew, Crooked Stave is quite interesting. They specialize in Bretts and Sour beers. They are inspired by Funkwerks in Fort Collins, who in turn seemed to benefit from the experiments of New Belgium. While most people know NB for their Fat Tire beer, they also experiment with a lot of barrel-aged beers that have a bit of sour to them. Their beer, La Folle is a cult favorite.
Interestingly, while a lot of people have been focused on hoppy stuff like IPAs, the sour beer craze has quietly been catching on (and I for one welcome our wild fermentation overlords).
I think Fat Tire is in Ft. Collins. Coors is really good to go to - it gives a vast amt of info. I think Hakushika Sake is near Coors in Golden (made from our great water in Colorado). There is Celestial Seasonings Tea in Boulder, and also there is Stranahan's Whiskey in Denver - they give tours - but I think you need to sign up for them. I am not a beer drinker - so I am not much help I that department. Have fun! Oh - and there's Infinite MonkeyTheorem (pretty new) in Denver - near Coors Field.
Here are some of my recommendations for the Denver area (i.e. excluding Boulder, Ft. Collins, Longmont, etc.):
- River North
- Strange Brewing
Not sure if any of them offer tours but they all do great beer!!
I don't think Leopold Bros. doest tours unless it's a special engagement or set-up (e.g. we visited through a special tour through the Marczyk's grocery store). However, you could go to Stranahan's
Dang, I stopped going out about a year ago - and nearly all the places on that Thrill list are new to me. Also - there's Falling Rock - it's a block away from Coors Field. I would suggest starting a day / evening there and ask any barkeep about their thoughts. And there is a great Belgian place on Colfax - near the Fillmore Auditorium (less than 10 min cab ride from Coors Field). They don't make the beer there, but they have great Belgian beers there and all the proper glasses to serve them in.