If drinking beer is good, drinking freshly brewed beer straight from the source is even better. Pull up a stool and taste the revolution.
Vine Street Pub & Brewery
Vine Street Pub & Brewery has a reputation for being a hangout for the Phish-obsessed, but this Uptown pub caters to a young professional crowd and families, too. The third in a trio of locations spawned by Boulder’s Mountain Sun, Vine Street is always packed with beer-seeking parents with kids in tow. And why wouldn’t it be? The food is straight-ahead, reasonably priced pub grub perfect for the kids while the ever-changing beer list makes it easy for both mom and dad to find something to quaff.
You’re Drinking: Colorado Kind Ale, an amber ale with an earthy hop bite
Bonus: February is Stout Month at Vine Street. This celebration of the consummate dark brew features an impressive selection of stouts from around the world.
If You Go: 1700 Vine St., 303-388-2337, mountainsunpub.com
It was our love of whiskey, not beer, that first brought us to the cozy British-style Pints Pub, located in the Golden Triangle. With more than 260 varietals, Pints boasts the largest selection of single malt whiskey outside of Great Britain. Turns out, Pints brews darn good beer, too. Keeping with the British theme, Pints offers two different cask-conditioned ales, which are served at “cellar” temperature—about 50 degrees—like much of the beer in England. If you’re interested in a more American beer-drinking experience, don’t fret—Pints also brews a few cold, fizzy beers such as the Airedale Pale and the Alchemy E.S.B.
You’re drinking: The smooth, chocolaty John Bull Brown Ale
Food Pairing: Pints Pub has a full menu replete with English fare good for soaking up the alcohol.
If You Go: 221 W. 13th Ave., 303-534-7543, pintspub.com
Caution: Brewing Co.
Thanks to Denver’s awkwardly drawn eastern city limits, Caution is officially part of the Denver beer scene. This new taproom is also home to a bit of Colorado brewing history: Owners Danny and Betty Wang are crafting their unexpected beers using Odell Brewing Company’s old five-barrel pilot brewing system (hence Odell’s 5 Barrel Pale Ale), which they purchased on a whim after they heard the equipment was available. Caution’s flagship brew is the Lao Wang Lager, a clean, golden beer concocted with Asian spices, but the real gem is the Hippity Hop, an offbeat IPA brewed with chrysanthemum and Chinese rock brown sugar, which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “floral hop character.”
You’re Drinking: Hippity Hop, which, at 7.5 percent ABV, is easier to drink than it should be
You’re Listening To: The sounds emanating from the classic, arcade-style Space Invaders video game in the corner
If You Go: 12445 E. 39th Ave., Unit 314, 970-315-2739, cautionbrewingco.com
Great Divide Brewing Company
Great Divide has been around for 19 years, a veritable eon in craft brewing time, and the taproom, which underwent an expansion in 2011, displays the trappings of being the big boy in town. The crowd is well scrubbed and professional, the decor leans upscale industrial chic, and the myriad awards the brewery has won over the years are hung prominently on the wall. Grab a seat at the bar—if you can find one—and ask the bartender what sort of rarities and one-offs are on tap.
You’re Drinking: Our favorite of Great Divide’s offerings is the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, a complex, roasty 9.5 percent ABV beast of a beer.
You’re Listening To: Loud indie rock
If You Go: 2201 Arapahoe St., 303-296-9460, greatdivide.com
Renegade Brewing Company
The first time we walked into Renegade, it just felt right—which is why we’ve been back so many times. Others apparently feel the same way: Located within the Art District on Santa Fe, the sleek, smallish space is consistently packed. So much so, in fact, that Renegade has plans to open a new spot, the Renegade Publik House, near the University of Denver next month. Can’t get to one of the tap houses? Renegade cans its flagship brew, Ryeteous Rye IPA, in 16-ounce tallboys and distributes them to select liquor stores around Denver.
You’re Drinking: At 5 percent ABV, 5:00 Afternoon Ale is a session beer you can drink well into the evening.
You’re Listening To: Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
If You Go: 925 W. Ninth Ave., 720-401-4089, renegadebrewing.com
Bull & Bush Brewery
The neighborhood brewpub trend may have exploded in the Mile High City over the past couple of years, but the Bull & Bush has been serving cold craft brew since 1971. The pub is modeled on an English watering hole of the same name that dates to 1645 and comes complete with exposed wood beams and a copper bar that’s warped just enough to keep your pint slightly off-kilter. Bull & Bush always has a number of brews on tap (they’ve been brewing their own suds since 1997); see what best fits your palate, and enjoy a taste of Olde England in southeast Denver.
You’re Drinking: If a place has the cojones to name one of its brews Man Beer, they’re almost daring you to down a pint of this 7.5 percent ABV English-style India pale ale.
You’re Listening To: The Killers, Oasis, Garbage
If You Go: 4700 Cherry Creek Drive South, 303-759-0333, bullandbush.com