Last Friday, I had the (ahem) onerous task of picking 5280’s favorite beer at Brew at the Zoo, an annual fundraising event for the Denver Zoo where people get to ogle at the giraffes, tigers, and elephants while sipping beers and sampling food. Tough job.

While I still love the six beers we selected for the second “5280 Six Pack” and that were on tap at 5280’s booth, I couldn’t spend all night there, especially with samples from more than 30 breweries to try.

Old standbys, like Dale’s Pale Ale, didn’t disappoint. But I was even more impressed with suds coming from Colorado’s youngest breweries (Copper Kettle, Denver Beer Company, and more). These are my six favorites.

Copper Kettle Brewing Company, Imperial Red

I know better than to start the evening with a 7 percent ABV beer, but this Red just looked so lovely in my glass. It tasted even better.

Dry Dock Brewing Company, Apricot Blonde Ale

This brew is a 5280 favorite, and the just-pungent-enough apricot flavor helped drown out some of the zoo’s less appealing smells. This pour made me want to go home and bake a pie.

Denver Beer Company, Fresh Hop IPA

I was going to give this newcomer brewery some time to develop its line until I tasted the oh-so-fresh IPA. Well, the trial period is over. This brew tasted like they’ve produced it for years.

Elk Mountain Brewing, Saison

Parker has a brewery? Indeed. And if the taproom has this effervescent Saison on tap, try it. You’ll thank me.

Renegade Brewing Company, Ryetous Rye IPA

I came back for seconds of this beer, which helps update Colorado’s obsession with IPA. Hop heaven in a glass.

Ska Brewing, Special E.S.B.

An oldie but goodie, this slightly bitter brew was even better than normal at the zoo. Maybe it was the hint-of-fall temperature. Or, maybe it is just a really solid beer.

BONUS: Can you guess what my favorite is? The winner will have its very own ad in November’s issue. Stay tuned.

Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.