Colorado has been called the Napa Valley of beer, a suds lover’s paradise. When on a quest for fine drink in Denver, whet your whistle at these local breweries.
Founded in 1994, Great Divide’s concoctions have won 17 medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Staples like the hoppy, bitter Titan IPA, the malty Claymore Scotch Ale and Yeti, an imperial stout clocking in at 9.5% ABV, are supplemented by seasonal specialties such as the Enlgish Old-Style Hibernation Ale, Belgica, a Belgian-style IPA and the oak-aged Rumble IPA. At the tap room just north of the LoDo district, you can experience the magic straight from brewery taps.
With two brewpub locations in Denver, Breckenridge has brought its world-class beers down from the mountains for urban enjoyment. The main offerings highlight the Lucky U IPA, a malty amber called Avalanche and a dark, smooth Oatmeal Stout. Breckenridge also offers small-batch specialties like the 471 IPA, a hop-bomb boasting a10% alcohol content. At the Kalamath location, grab some hearty barbecue to provide a base for all that booze.
Denver Beer Company
Born in the garages of its brewmasters, Denver Beer Company embraces the spirit of the homebrewer. All types of patrons frequent their beergarden, from suits unwinding after a day at the office to outdoor junkies with dogs in tow. The tap selection changes with the seasons, but the sweet, full-bodied Graham Cracker Porter is a staple. Combined with innovative creations like the crisp, fruity Peach Saison and Fresh Hop IPA made with handpicked Chinook hops, your palate will always find something new.
Strange Brewing Company
Denver’s newest addition to the beer scene, Strange started with an extremely small one-barrel brewing system. By staying small, the brewers could focus all their energy on the beer rather than dealing with the business end. Strange is not afraid to try new things, as evidenced by the Cherry Bomb Belgian Stout, a result of a brewer adding the wrong malt to a batch. More traditional offerings include IPAphany India Pale Ale and a Tainted Black Pale.
Another brewery founded by passionate homebrewers, Dry Dock won Small Brewing Company of the Year at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival. Dry Dock is famous for its German-style beers, especially the Hefeweizen, with its strong banana aromas. The eight main beers are supplemented by three rotating taps, and on “Firkin Fridays,” the brewery taps a cask-conditioned brew with exotic ingredients like tart cherries, pumpkin or watermelon.
Del Norte is unique among Colorado breweries, or for that matter, American breweries in general. Rather than competing to make the hoppiest or strongest beer possible, Del Norte focuses on making exclusively Mexican-style lagers. This approach has won Del Norte multiple awards; the Mañana Amber Lager has earned seven gold medals in its lifetime. The Cinco light lager is the two-time reigning champion of the Great American Beer Festival’s Latin American/Tropical Lager category. Del Norte’s brews offer a higher-quality alternative to staples like Corona or Dos Equis.