So, apparently, Denverinos (surely not what they call themselves) like beer. A lot. A whole fucking lot.
This is good because I like beer too. I like beer so much, I actually invented a TV show. That’s right, invented. It’s called the Brewhaha and I’m still waiting for a call from Esquire apologizing for Brew Dogs. I’ll wait.
Right, beer. Denver. Back on track.
I like to think being from New York Fucking City that we have the best of everything. Beer culture in NYC is amazing no doubt, with Pony Bar, Alewife, and my fave, Jimmy’s No. 43 bringing it’s A game, but I never, ever, have seen something so amazing as the beer culture in Denver. Let’s put it this way; if beer was venereal disease, then Denver would be a 18th century cheap French prostitute named Rose-Marie. It’s got it all.
There for 3 days, I was on a mission to see some of Denver’s suds stars and sample some of the more unique nectar they produce, with my compatriot, Tom Taddeo, who is no fool in the subject of beer. Tom is owner of VBGB’s, Charlotte’s premiere craft beer house, and suffers no sappy suds lightly. It was like going to the movies with Roger Ebert, rather, like being at the Tribeca Film Festival with Roger Ebert. Shit was about to get critical.
In all we visited about 15 breweries. Let that sit in. 15. And that’s casually just walking round town. Everywhere we went, there was a brewery. Of course you hit the “famous” ones; Epic, Breckenridge, Great Divide. Then you just start running into them, tucked into corners, in residential areas, even in the back of bookshops. Everyone, everywhere, seemed to make beer. Even the DMV (although you had to wait in line for an hour for a pint).
While each had its own flavor (especially the Death Metal breweries we went to. Yes, that is plural, as in there was more than one Death Metal brewery), but one above all was my favorite by far … I give you…
Tucked away outside the pristine stuffiness of LODO (lower downtown Denver… stop trying to be NYC will’ya?) you will find this mecca of brew. Epic is vast, shiny, and new. The staff there are super cool, happy to chat, and what’s more, happy to leave you alone to sip your suds. It’s a quick ride from downtown on one of those little red city bikes, and there are some cool places to eat around the area, making it a win-win. Here are a few one phrase reviews of the selection we had:
Double Skull Double Boch (8.5%) • Butterscotch wool sweater with shorts, fireside. Fucking Rad.
Blackberry Saison (6.7%) • A sour citrus funky mistress.
Brainless Belgian (9.2%) • Um… sorry dont remember.
Brainless on Peaches Belgium (11.5%) • more like a Pilsner Noir.
Brainless Belgium IPA (6.6%) • A Creamy Capt’n Lawrence.
825 State Stout (5.6%) • Drinking fucking chocolate velvet.
Oaked Belgium (11%) • A luden’s lapdog by the fireside.
Coffee Baptist Imperial (10.5%) • Starbochs.
That’s not to say that there aren’t other great breweries in jolly ol’ Denver, but Epic was just the cremdelacrem receiving high marks all around. So you know who was in our little competition, lets run down the rest of the greats in Denver:
There wasn’t much of a divide between Epic and GD truth be told. Awesome beers like Collete and Hoss are hard to come by, and they are served up proper at the source. It’s also located in a funny part of town, surrounded by interesting little shops, dispensaries, and more pawn shops that I’ve ever seen in my life, so it’s a great way to spend a boozy afternoon.
Another cool brewery, except for that Bubba Gump corporate atmosphere it’s got going on. A little too polished and a little to clean, but the beer is damn good with some interesting concoctions like Patty’s Chili Beer, which was actually fantastically drinkable. Added points for the girl who looked topless across the bar while she watched the game on the TV.
Breck suffers the same fate of Wyncoop, but in spades. First, it’s more like a Cheesecake factory for beer inside this mega-brewsteraunt. Second, their website makes you answer if you are above 18 to enter (which I think is the equivalent to asking a murderer if he killed someone. Useless), and third, well, some of their beers really, truly suck. One note I have is “like accidentally pouring your stale morning coffee into your warm beer” and another is “most likely something that goes into the car”. That’s not to say that some beers weren’t good, they were, but it was definitely hit or miss here, kinda like waking up the morning after a rave meeting the person lying next to you in bed. Could go either way.
When you think beer you obviously think death metal, right? Of course… Danzig and doublebocks, Sepultura and saisons. Black Sky was one of TWO metal breweries we went to. The irony? All their beer was extremely light. I mean like O’Doul’s light. Still, points on the cross-over factor, and still waiting for a French Ya-Ya brewery. Investors call me when you’re ready.
Crooked stave is an interested lil brewery located way outside town, literally on the other side of the tracks, in a strange lil complex called “The Source“. It’s kinda like a pop-up destination; a modern strip mall, if strip malls were built by community conscious hipsters. What is different about Crooked Stave is pretty much everything. I’m sure it said “beer” somewhere, and the word “brewery” was outside, but this was not “beer” per se. What we had was an “infusion of brew” with … kombucha. Sit with that. Kombucha beer.
Let’s just say it was not for the faint of heart.
I tell you this… after 3 days we couldn’t touch another beer. Of course we did … our last night we went to the Chop House which was awesome, and yes, they too were a brewery. Like most places have ATMs inside, Denver seems to have breweries, and you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. Keep brewing the liquid gold my Denverinos… and we’ll keep drinking them.
Except you Breckenridge. You know what you’ve done.