Reporting by Julie Dugdale, Amanda M. Faison, Luc Hatlestad, Lindsey B. Koehler, Lindsey R. McKissick, Chris Outcalt, Daliah Singer & Geoff Van Dyke
Issue: February 2012
The 35 Best Bars in Denver
From dive bars to chic cocktail lounges, we drank our way through the Mile High City to find the best places to imbibe.
Falling Rock Tap House It wasn’t long ago that Falling Rock was the place to go in Denver for craft beer selection. And, well, let’s be honest: It still is, even with the massive growth of lengthy beer lists around town. Owner Chris Black’s passion for beer (he’s almost as in demand at the Great American Beer Festival as the celebrity brewers) is borne out by the bar’s “No Crap On Tap” tagline, and the 85 or so rotating handles, which dispense everything from local microbrews to Belgian legends. The beer menu may frequently be out of date, and the service borders on surly at times—but, really, it’s a beer bar. Would you expect anything less? 1919 Blake St., 303-293-8338, fallingrocktaphouse.com
Drink this: Russian River Brewing’s Pliny The Elder imperial IPA on draught. The most balanced imperial IPA (8.0 percent alcohol by volume)—ever.
Freshcraft One of the newer additions to LoDo’s exploding food and craft beer scene, Freshcraft’s founders, the Forgy brothers (Lucas, Jason, and Aaron), have created a restaurant and beer bar that’s difficult not to like. The menu is a culinary mash-up of comfort foods like a barbecue chicken sandwich and the cheese crusted pork tenderloin, but the beer is the real star. With 20 constantly rotating taps that range from the standard (Avery IPA) to the obscure (Ovila Quad), and more than 100 bottles, dark beer lovers, hopheads—and everyone in between—will find something worth quaffing here. 1530 Blake St., 303-758-9608, freshcraft.com
Drink this: Freshcraft usually has something from California standout Firestone Walker Brewing Company; try the Pale 31 or the dark, roasty, creamy Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout.
Rackhouse Pub Tucked away on a barren block near the intersection of Alameda and I-25, and inside Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey Distillery, Rackhouse Pub combines two of our favorite pastimes: drinking whiskey and drinking beer. Rackhouse has 20 tap handles, and all but one are dedicated to Colorado brews: On a recent visit, hard-to-find beers like AC Golden’s American Wild Ale Cherry Sour and Dry Dock’s 2010 Barley Wine were on draught. If the service at Falling Rock errs on the side of disinterested, we’ve found the barkeeps at Rackhouse to be friendly and chatty in a way that’s endearing but not overbearing. 208 S. Kalamath St., 720-570-7824, rackhousepub.com
Drink this: Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout, a smooth and creamy draught version of Left Hand’s near-perfect stout.
Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen Euclid Hall is a beer bar for yuppies—and we say that in the most loving way. There are times when we want cheap canned beer and peanut shells on the ground, but sometimes we want to be a little more…sophisticated. Here you can have hand-cranked sausages (kielbasa, blood sausage, and various wursts, for example) and bottled beers like Ommegang Abbey Ale Dubbel or Avery Brewing’s The Reverend. And you can relax in this very nice, hip, but studiously casual, space. The tap list may be small (11 beers on draught), but Euclid’s “Library List” (flip to the back of the menu) is where you’ll find the really interesting stuff, like Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron or Bourgogne des Flandres Belgian Brown Ale. These brews may not be cheap (that Bourgogne des Flandres runs $31 for 750 ml), but, hey, this isn’t your grandfather’s corner pub. 1317 14th St., 303-595-4255, euclidhall.com
Drink this: Deschutes Black Butte Porter, the best American porter not made in Colorado (in our humble opinion).
Wazee Supper Club Full disclosure: Wazee Supper Club is the 5280 editors’ watering hole of choice, in part because of the simple fact that it’s a half-block from our LoDo headquarters. But that’s not the only reason: Not long ago, Wazee made us very happy indeed when it upped its tap handles from 22 to 32. And although they tend to be heavy on Wynkoop and Breckenridge beers (Breck owns Wazee), there’s plenty to choose from beyond Colorado craft brews (we, for example, are thankful that there always seems to be something from Russian River Brewing and Victory Brewing on tap). Add to that solid pizzas and sandwiches, a soundtrack of ’80s rock that varies from Van Halen to the Police, and regulars that range from staid suits to local barflies to rabid Avs fans, and you’ve got the quintessential Denver neighborhood bar. 1600 15th St., 303-623-9518, wazeesupperclub.com
Drink this: We usually get happy hour off to an auspicious start at Wazee with a cold pint of Great Divide’s Titan IPA.