If drinking beer is good, drinking freshly brewed beer straight from the source is even better. Pull up a stool and taste the revolution.
Denver Beer Co.
Maybe it’s the rotating list of imaginative brews. Maybe it’s the prime Platte Street location. Or perhaps it’s simply the no-brainer name. Whatever it is, Denver Beer Co. has developed a reputation as the Mile High City’s hippest new brewery. With ample patio space, a long L-shaped bar, and plenty of tables, the brewery is bigger than most of the city’s newer purveyors of suds. The crowd is a blend of flannel-shirt-wearing guys and fleece-clad gals mixed with the occasional post-work suit. Beerwise, expect the unexpected.
You’re Drinking: The omnipresent Graham Cracker Porter, a rich brew that tastes like a s’more roasted over a campfire
You’re Listening To: Mumford & Sons
If You Go: 1695 Platte St., 303-433-2739, denverbeerco.com
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Yes, Rock Bottom is a chain with 34 locations in 16 states. Sure, the place looks and feels more like an Applebee’s than an archetypal craft brew taproom. But don’t jump to conclusions. On a recent visit to the 16th Street Mall location (the original Rock Bottom), we found more than 15 solid brews on tap. The pumpkin ale was impressive, there were a few nitro selections, and we were surprised to find that Rock Bottom dedicates a tap to a rotating IPA. (Frankly, we wish more breweries would do this.) Plus: There’s a full menu, and the restaurant’s sunny, mallside patio offers some of the best people-watching in the city.
You’re Drinking: The latest IPA
Did You Know? Rock Bottom’s brews have won more than a dozen medals at the Great American Beer Festival.
If You Go: Multiple locations, rockbottom.com
Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew
The creativity and breadth on display in Denver’s breweries is stunning, and Our Mutual Friend, which opened last year, is no exception. This small spot in the Five Points neighborhood sources 100 percent of its barley, and many other ingredients, from Colorado growers to serve a rotating list of eight brews. On a recent visit, OMF was offering everything from an easy-drinking saison to a boozy dark ale dubbed Winter Warmer. The space is unassuming, with concrete floors and a vaulted, corrugated steel ceiling, and instead of a fancy traditional backbar, OMF simply has a bookcase, which lends to the homey vibe. It’s the ideal place to meet—yes—your good friends for a brew or two.
You’re Drinking: OMF’s Brown Ale, which is a little roasty and a little chocolatey—and dangerously drinkable
You’re Listening To: Jazz on the record player
If You Go: 2810 Larimer St., 720-722-2810, omfmb.com
Located just around the corner from Sloan’s Lake, Hogshead Brewery is more polished than your typical Denver neighborhood nanobrewery. The space is bright thanks to several panels of floor-to-ceiling windows, and the picnic-style tables are perfectly positioned to maximize the small area in front of the bar. At first glance, the clean, radiant look and the neighborhood crowd seem at odds with Hogshead’s mission to serve all English-style ales—brews that are often relegated to dark, masculine bars—and yet it works. Try one of the rotating cask-conditioned ales, or choose from a few regular offerings such as an extra special bitter (ESB) or a creamy London porter.
You’re Drinking: Gilpin Black Gold, a robust porter that’s as smooth as a baby’s...well, you get the idea
Food Pairing: A rotating cast of food trucks offers everything from thin-crust pizza and Cuban sandwiches to spicy tamales and tortas.
If You Go: 4460 W. 29th Ave., 303-495-3105, hogsheadbrewery.com