Last summer, I noticed a small, white poster positioned in the grass along South Golden Road: the words “Coda” were written on it, humbly, in marker. Curious, I scoured the web and learned that Coda Brewing Co., formerly located in Aurora, would be reopening near my home in Golden come fall, bringing its experimental beers infused with elixirs and tinctures to my neighborhood.
Today, almost a year after opening (and with a proper sign in place), Coda is a staple in the Front Range beer scene, offering its unique spin on IPAs, sours, saisons, and stouts. The craft brewery recently released its first series of canned beers, too, so you can sip on your favorites, like Coda’s Pleasant View IPA, at home—and beyond.
Coda began back in 2011 when owner and head brewer Luke Smith began tinkering at his home. For Smith, creating unique brews has always been a passion. “By trade and by heart, I’m a scientist,” Smith says. “I’ve published a lot of papers in cancer therapeutics and ran a big lab on the Anschutz Campus at the University of Colorado.”
In 2014, with former partner Scott Procop, Smith fused his love of science and enthusiasm for brewing to open Coda in Aurora. Within a few months, Coda received a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival for its Sleepyhead Passionfruit Imperial Kolsch and again won a medal in 2015 for its Strong Pale Ale.
But toward the end of 2015, Smith and Procop parted ways; Smith looked to the foothills of South Table Mountain to continue his work. There, Coda’s production facility and taproom spans a modest 2,400 square feet, encompassing a four-vessel brewhouse and open oak fermenters formerly owned by Golden Moon Distillery. Those fermenters allow microbes to naturally propagate the yeast in the mash bill, generating inventive and distinct flavors in each batch of beer.
Even more unique: Coda’s brewers add homemade tinctures to their brews. Smith works with area foragers to find local fruits, herbs, and even mushrooms. “It’s a nod to the apothecary theme and it’s a nod to our slogan: Ale’s what cures you,” Smith says.
You can find all of Coda’s tinctures and brews in its apothecary, which doubles as a taproom. Filled with lab tables, microscopes, and Pyrex beakers, Coda feels like a true scientific laboratory, all designed by Denver-based graphic artist Matt Varnish. His botanical designs can also be found on Coda’s new canned line, which includes the Cirrus Blanc Hazy IPA, the Pleasant View IPA, and the Microscope, a rotating seasonal brew.
But for me, ever since Coda’s Golden grand opening, its Smith’s most innovative beers that continue to draw me in. The Pomegranate Sour and Dark Matter Oatmeal Stout are favorites, but recently, I can’t seem to stop sipping on the Dogcatcher Red Ale, a refreshing brew with notes of orange blossom honey and verdant hops. Sure, Golden is home to a plethora of cozy brewhouses, but little compares to the convenience of walking down the street to my local beer apothecary to grab a pack to take on my next mountain adventure.
15965 S. Golden Rd., Golden; Wednesday–Thursday, 3–9 p.m.; Friday–Sunday, 12–9 p.m.