6 Denver Breweries to Try Before the Festivus

With the 6th Annual Denver [Only] Beer Festivus quickly approaching, we decided now would be the perfect time to showcase a few of the breweries that will be in attendance. Each has its own vibe, which is reflected in more than their beer. Everything from the tables to the patrons reflects the personality of each brewery, which makes seeing them in person before or after the Festivus so exciting.

If you’re a beer lover, make sure you check out the list and the Festivus on December 16. Do you have additions to our list? Come write for us!

Denver Beer Company

Located just outside of downtown proper, Denver Beer Co. has been around for six years. Their taproom on Platte Street (considered part of the Downtown Denver neighborhood) has become a popular place for not just beer lovers, but also bicyclists, food truck connoisseurs, and people who enjoy an awesome patio. Dogs are welcome and will even get their own bowl for water, which is one reason people feel so at home here.

Denver Beer Company patio
Patio at Denver Beer Co.

But the real reason to love the taproom is the beer. While there are a few mainstays that never change, their selection of brews is constantly changing. One beer you’ll always see at Denver Beer Co. is the Incredible Pedal IPA, which won the Silver Medal for American Style IPA at the 2015 New York International Beer Competition. The Incredible Pedal is one of the smoothest IPAs I’ve enjoyed, giving just the right amount of hoppiness to satisfy your tastebuds before introducing fruity undertones. It works as a perfect introduction to the kind of balance and dedication the Denver Beer Co. gives to their beers.

Summit Sunrise Red Rye IPA
Incredible Pedal IPA

 

If you’re interested in a little more punch from your IPA, I highly recommend the seasonal Summit Sunrise Red Rye IPA, which was the 2016 World Beer Cup Gold Medal winner and the 2016 Best of Craft Beer Awards Gold Medal winner. Awards mean next to nothing until you taste the beer itself, and the Summit Sunrise does not disappoint. Just as smooth as the Incredible Pedal, this IPA is much richer in flavor and comes with a surprising range of notes that keep you interested the entire glass. It’s available through March so you have plenty of time to try it.

Summit Sunrise Red Rye IPA, Denver Beer Co.

The Pretzel Assassin is a Vienna Lager brewed with both Munich and caramel malts, giving you an aroma of German-style bread, much like that of a pretzel – hence the name. I suggest this beer as a great starter or finisher, as it’s as easy to drink as it is to pair with bread to help absorb all the alcohol I’m recommending.

Pretzel Assassin Lager
Pretzel Assassin, Denver Beer Co.

Especially for the Denver Beer Festivus and colder months, Denver Beer Co. is featuring a couple of seasonal selections to help get you into the holiday spirit. The Wilderness, a barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout, delivers an aroma of molasses, coffee, roasted nuts, and chocolate, inviting you to taste how the different flavors come out of the dark and complement each other. The other seasonal they have available only in 22-ounce bombers is ‘Tis the Saison, a holiday-esque Black Saison with notes of plums, spice, and everything nice. The taste of mulling spices like cloves, cardamom, and ginger will be enough to keep you warm this winter, and wanting another.

Location: 1695 Platte Street, Denver, CO 80202

Wynkoop Brewing Company

With Wynkoop Brewing Company’s enviable location right across the street from Union Station (in the LoDo area), it’s easy to write them off as less serious craft beer brewers, but that would be foolish. Wynkoop is constantly updating their taps with options from across Colorado, but the ones they make in-house are worth a visit.

Wynkoop Brewery beers
Wynkoop Brewery, Denver, CO

If you’re looking for a unique Denver beer flavor that you might not try on the regular, I suggest you spice up your palette with the GABF medal-winning golden ale, Patty’s Chile. Hints of Anaheim, Serrano, and ancho chile peppers tickle your taste buds, but this beer won’t have you panting and wiping the sweat from your forehead. Who’s Patty, you ask? Why, it’s none other than the founder of Denver’s Westword, Patricia Calhoun.

Patty's Chile beer, Wynkoop Brewery, Denver
Patty’s Chile, Wynkoop Brewery, near Union Station, Denver

Speaking of local flavors, Wynkoop has a number of delicious IPAs to choose from, which means you won’t get bored there anytime soon. However, if you don’t mind your beer knocking you on your ass, you’ll want to try the Warning Label. It actually has a warning label on the menu because you can only have one per visit. With its 15% ABV, this 30 proof experimental IPA is as flavorful as it is dangerous. I suggest drinking this slowly and allowing the numerous hops present themselves without overpowering your taste buds.

Warning Label beer, Wynkoop Brewery, Denver
Warning Label, Wynkoop Brewery, near Union Station, Denver

In addition to their fantastic beer selection, they have a full menu–including weekend brunch–and an entire floor dedicated to traditional bar games. So visit for lunch or dinner and then head upstairs to continue the fun.

Location: 1634 18th Street, Denver, CO 80202

 

Jagged Mountain Brewery

While not on everyone’s radar, Jagged Mountain Brewery is right in the middle of Downtown Denver. It’s one of my favorite spots because of its laid back atmosphere and attitude. Don’t get me wrong, they take their craft very seriously, but they brew and serve without pretension. It makes for a nice escape from the bars surrounding it. You can have great conversations with your bartender while you sip on their strictly locally-sourced beers.

Jagged Mountain Brewery beers
Jagged Mountain Brewery, Denver

Great for any weather, season, or occasion is the Four Season Hefeweizen, a German wheat ale with a tiny bit of hop bitterness, and an aftertaste of banana and clove-like spices. Poured in a traditional Weizen glass, this one really stands out from the rest.

If you’re big on fruity IPAs, Jagged has the perfect beer for you. The Ninja Donkey is a juicy imperial IPA that mixes sweet and bitter in a delicious package. It has a slight kick with its 8.2% ABV, but that’s to be expected with so many different hops being used.

For all of you Big Lebowski fans out there, you’ll want to make the Dude proud by drinking “This Beer Really Ties the Room Together,” a blonde white Russian milk stout that rivals the Dude’s favorite drink, the White Russian. With a milky, lighter appearance and hints of coffee and cacao nibs, all you’ll need is a comfy robe and a bowling lane for this to be the perfect drink – but that’s just like, my opinion, man.

The other beer Jagged Mountain is featuring right now, which you’ll see at the Beer Festivus, is the Resident Dirtbag, a Belgian quad that really packs a punch. It’s been fermented and aged in a Breckenridge bourbon barrel, previously used for aging port wine. It’s more of a shot than a beer, so I’d be careful with this one before you turn into that sloppy, well, resident dirtbag.

Jagged Mountain Brewery, Denver
Jagged Mountain Brewery, Denver

If beer isn’t your thing (more for me), you can also try their kombucha, brewed on-site.

Location: 1139 20th Street, Denver, CO 80202

Great Divide Brewery & Taproom

If you haven’t heard of Great Divide yet, you haven’t been to a bar, restaurant, or liquor store in Denver. I mean it. Great Divide has been around since 1994, really putting Denver on the craft beer map before very many people even knew about crafting. What started out as Brian Dunn’s dream has become one of the most celebrated and consistent breweries in the world.

Let’s face it, everyone already has their favorite beer at this brewery, but it is still fun to go in and see what’s on tap seasonally and have a Great Divide experience. There’s a reason this spot is so popular with tourists and locals alike.

If you want to try one of their rotating series, Hop Disciples is now available through April, so swig in and have a glass of this clean and inviting IPA. If it’s anything like their Titan IPA or Hercules Double IPA, you’re in for a flavorful treat.

While the taproom is slightly out of the way (near the Curtis Park area), it’s quick walk or Lyft to your next destination. If you want their full line-up, check out their new Barrel Bar in RiNo.

Location: 2201 Arapahoe Street, Denver, CO 80205

Woods Boss Brewing Company

Woods Boss is the new kid on the block, but they’re quickly gaining a reputation for having some great beer. With some clever names and an incredible taproom, that’s no surprise. Upon my first visit to their location on California (in the Five Points area), I had to stop and double check that I was in the right place.

That’s how impressive their interior is. It’s like a mix between Beatrice & Woodsley and Work & Class. The large wooden tables remind you of the name while the large open space lets you know that you’re in a place that can break out into a live event any moment. And it does. They enjoy having live music there.

But let’s talk about the beer. Like I mentioned before, the names are so clever that you sometimes can’t decide what to try. Go with some of what you know, but don’t be afraid to experiment here. The bartenders are more than equipped to help you find the right brew for you. That’s one of the perks of trying a new brewery: everyone’s invested in what’s being served.

Since I can’t get enough IPAs, I had to try their Oswald (Full O’ Hops), which was exactly what I expected: full of hops! This New England-style IPA is full of flavor and is the perfect introduction to the kind of hazy, woodsy taste you’d expect from Woods Boss.

If you’re prepared for a real kick, you should try the Belgian quad Form & Function, which has a 12.8% ABV. It’s another flavorful concoction and is just the right amount of fruity and chocolatey.

Make sure you also try their Chain Pour 8, which is a light and crisp Kolsch, and the Fat Randy’s IPA, which comes from the Holidaily Brewing Company in Golden, Colorado. The Fat Randy’s is gluten-free, as is the entire brewery.

Tivoli Brewing Company

Tivoli Brewing Company is simultaneously the oldest brewery in Denver and one of the newest. The original brewery was opened in 1859 and produced beer until 1969. In 2012, the brewery was brought back to life and is back in full production. The original recipes are painstakingly recreated and improved upon while the brew masters and MSU Denver students on the Auraria campus concoct new beers as part of the beer education program.

One new recipe to try is the Hop Project #2, which has an incredible finish even at an 11% ABV. Since I can’t resist a hoppy brew, I was glad they had so many pale ales to choose from. Each time I go into the Tivoli, their beer has gotten better and better.

Hop Project #2 IPA, Tivoli Brewing
Hop Project #2 IPA, Tivoli Brewing

An interesting mixture of students, faculty, and downtown professionals frequent the taproom, which can get crowded, but that’s part of the fun! If you want a quieter experience, go during the weekend when there’s not an event at the Pepsi Center.

At the Denver Beer Festivus, they’ll be showcasing their Jet  Imperial Malt Liquor, which is an upgraded original recipe–and one of my favorites–along with the Helles, which will transport you into the past with its imported German ingredients.

Jet Imperial Malt Lager, Tivoli Brewing

Good River Beer Company

A quick shoutout to a brewery without a taproom, the Good River Beer Company’s Fu Fighter can be found at the Terminal Bar in Union Station, LoDo. A spicy fruitiness defines this Belgian golden ale. If you want a lighter beer with plenty of flavor, this is a good choice for you.

Foo Fighter Belgian Golden Ale, Denver
Good River Beer Company, Union Station, Denver