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Behind the Brew: Stem Ciders

Head to one of the Mile High's only cider houses to enjoy a different kind of craft brew.

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Alongside the recent craft beer boom, a cider rush is well on its way. Stem Ciders is one of only two cideries operating in the Denver metro area, and their River North location makes this taproom a convenient sweet spot. Ample seating in the taproom allows for groups of any size. An adjoining patio laden with picnic tables is the perfect place to catch the late afternoon sun just before it dips behind the Rockies. Add a massive retractable garage door and it’s the ideal place to enjoy any afternoon.

Location: Tucked back in what appears to be a fenced-in parking lot, Stem is just secluded enough to elicit a sense of escape; downtown’s chaotic energy and RiNo’s astronomical buzz don’t exist here. In fact, you might miss it if you’re just driving by, which ensures everyone with a cider in their hand sought this place out.

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Ambience: In short, Stem feels like a cozy barn room, renovated to house cider- and music-lovers. Barrels, wood beams, high ceilings, and plank-lined walls create an inviting aesthetic effect. The constant murmur of conversation is never overbearing or drowned out by whatever the music of the night might be (it’s always mellow).

The bar is meager (seats five or six at best), but the far end is usually vacant and serves as an unofficial ordering station. From the patio, grab a quick refill directly through a service window. In the taproom, a large community table claims the center of the taproom, and smaller tables are sprinkled throughout. Whether people are playing a board game from Stem’s collection or chatting over a few ciders, the atmosphere is always welcoming.

Who You’ll Meet: Due to location, Stem doesn’t see much foot traffic. It’s a destination spot. Who you’ll encounter depends on the night; their event calendar is brimming with diverse and enticing activities. Bluegrass fans, cheese adorers, and trivia geeks frequent the cidery, and others come to pair their refreshment with pie. Regardless, cider lovers don’t seem to be pretentious about their craft beverage, so you’ll likely encounter a gaggle of down-to-earth folks.

On Tap: Order a flight of four ($8) to experience the unexpectedly diverse world of ciders. Remedy, L’Acier, and Malice are simple staples with a crisp, clean taste—perfect for the patio. Bolder options include Le Chêne (smoky, velvety mouthfeel) and Banjo (potent bourbon flavor, light vanilla finish). Kombucha from Happy Leaf is always on tap for designated drivers.

Make A Night (or Afternoon) of It: Within walking distance, RiNo has plenty to offer and a multitude of vibrant murals along the way. Grab lunch at Crema Coffee House, stop and shop at RE: or Smirk, or enjoy a slice or a sandwich (gluten-free available) at The Walnut Room. Continue your gluten-free journey to Mile High Winery and Infinite Monkey Theorem.

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More: Before it’s gone, swing by for a glass of Young Gun, Stem’s seasonal cider. Crafted from Keiffer pears, it boasts a uniquely oaky, buttery finish.

Visit: Stem Ciders is located at 2811 Walnut St., #150; 720-443-3007

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