If drinking beer is good, drinking freshly brewed beer straight from the source is even better. Pull up a stool and taste the revolution.
Strange Brewing Company
Strange Brewing—the name is a reference to the classic 1983 screwball comedy Strange Brew—has a strange little taproom (the brewery could benefit from a feng shui consultant) in a strange location (an industrial strip mall in the shadow of Sports Authority Field at Mile High) that, somehow, always seems to have a steady crowd. We figured it had to be the beer. And we were right. Founded by two IT guys who lost their jobs at the Rocky Mountain News when the paper folded in 2009, Strange turns out solid brews from a rotating list of 12 tap handles: everything from fruity Belgians to pale ales brewed with rosemary.
You’re Drinking: Strange Pale Ale, a straightforward American-style pale ale
Winning: Strange garnered a Great American Beer Festival gold medal in its second year of existence, 2011, in the gluten-free category with its Gluten-Free Lemon Pale.
If You Go: 1330 Zuni St., Unit M, 720-985-2337, strangebrewingco.com
The term “micro,” as in microbrewery, is almost too small to do Breckenridge justice. Distributed in 33 states—and with a parent company that owns places like Wazee Supper Club and LoHi’s Ale House at Amato’s—Breck may not be a behemoth like Coors, but it’s a different beast from the indie breweries popping up around town. Breck’s Ballpark neighborhood pub recently underwent its first big renovation since it opened in 1992 (it doubled the number of tap handles, to 32), but when we’re looking for a fresh pint of 471 Imperial IPA, we head to the tasting room on Kalamath Street, where you’ll find old-time beer lovers and solid barbecue eats.
You’re Drinking: The Oatmeal Stout, a creamy, slightly bitter brew fit for a cold winter’s night
You’re Listening To: A solid lineup of jam bands
If You Go: Multiple locations, 303-573-0431, breckbrew.com
Black Shirt Brewing
Walking into Black Shirt feels like being let in on a secret. Craft brew connoisseurs will dig the taproom: From the filament light bulbs and custom glassware to the bar and tabletops, which are made from reclaimed train-car floors, Black Shirt feels like our version of the perfect place to drink a few small-batch beers. The four-month-old brewery only makes red ales, which may sound unnecessarily restrictive, but head brewer Branden Miller has done remarkable things with the typically malt-focused beverage.
You’re Drinking: BSB Red Ale, Black Shirt’s flagship brew, which is buttery and balanced
You’re Listening To: The Shins on the record player
If You Go: 3719 Walnut St., 303-993-2799, blackshirtbrewingco.com
Trve Brewing Company
If the Denver craft brewing scene were a high school, Trve would be the brooding metalhead who always sat in the back. Tucked into a narrow storefront on Broadway near Second Avenue, Trve’s bartenders wear all black; heavy metal growls from the speakers; and the black walls are decorated with trippy artwork. But don’t let that scare you away: Trve is the perfect nanobrewery for its counterculture-friendly Baker location. The bartenders and customers are affable, and the beer is brewed in extremely small batches without, not surprisingly, much care for traditional styles.
You’re Drinking: The 4.2 percent ABV Hellion American Table Beer
Bigger Isn’t Always Better: Trve offers 32-ounce growlers (half the normal size) to members of its “Cvlt.”
If You Go: 227 Broadway, #101, 303-351-1021, trvebrewing.com