GABF Daytrip | Denver Brewery Tour
With almost 700 breweries from all over the country pouring at the Great American Beer Festival this year, it’s easy to overlook how many great ones we have right here in Denver. How many? I count 37 breweries and cideries with taprooms in a roughly five-mile radius of the Colorado Convention Center where the festival will be held, and I’m guessing a handful more opened while I was typing this post. Many of them will not be at GABF, and most do not distribute their products outside of Colorado. We know craft beer drinkers to be an adventurous sort, so why not do a little exploring before or after the fest? In that spirit, I’ve compiled a list of destinations nearby that are easily accessible by foot, bike, or a short ride with your favorite car service. Dear readers, please stow your pretzel necklaces and hop cone hats for a moment – we’re going on an insider’s Denver brewery tour.
After only a few months of operation, Baere Brewing in the Baker neighborhood is already earning fans with their Baere-liner Weisse, a 3.1% abv version of the classic German sour beer served with a rotating selection of handmade syrups.
A recent addition to the brewery-packed River North neighborhood, Beryl’s Beer Company specializes in barrel-aged beers and offers an interesting lineup including a Dampfbier, Baltic Porter, and barrel-aged Mild.
A successful Kickstarter campaign lead to the opening of family-owned Black Shirt Brewing almost two years ago in River North. Read Kathleen Morton’s showcase of their unique taproom where you’ll find their red-hued beers served in Offero glassware designed to maximize aroma.
Look for the screaming skull mural announcing “beer, pizza, and metal” to find this metal-themed brewpub offering a long list of house beers and ten guest taps.
The Denver tasting room for Colorado’s third craft brewery is also home to a BBQ restaurant. Reserve a brewery tour spot to earn a free beer like their popular Agave Wheat showcased by our own Lindsey Krumel.
A Denver institution since 1971, Bull & Bush is fashioned after an old London pub. In addition to their own award-winning brews, they offer a large selection of guest taps and vintage bottles along with a full bar and kitchen. Hopheads will enjoy using their Hop Inciter to infuse house beers with five varieties of whole leaf hops from Roy Farms.
Dual brewing systems allow this recent addition to the Athmar neighborhood to quickly offer more than ten beers to patrons in their large taproom and beer garden.
Colorado Cider Company offers a wide variety of ciders including Glider, barrel-aged Ol’ Stumpy, and the lightly hopped Grasshop-ah. They’re also a mere block away from Wit’s End Brewing Company, featured further down this page.
Colorado Plus offers 56 taps of Colorado beer including house brews by GABF gold-winner Adam Draeger of Yak and Yeti.
In less than four years, Crooked Stave has established themselves as nationally-recognized masters of Brett beers, sour and otherwise. Read more about their handiwork in Phil Joyce’s showcase of Wild Wild Brett Violet-aged with Passion Fruit.
De Steeg Brewing offers eight taps of beer in the Sunnyside neighborhood. Originally considering the name “High Gravity Brewing“, this brewery specializes in brews 8% ABV or higher.
Denver Beer Company offers an ever-changing selection of one-off beers and one of the most popular patios in Denver.
Denver Chophouse offers diners a steakhouse experience paired with house-brewed beers including a Wild Turkey barrel-aged stout.
Year-old Diebolt Brewing is run by father-and-son brewing team Dan and Jack Diebolt. Their selection runs the gamut of styles, but most beers fall under 6% ABV and there’s an emphasis on French and farmhouse ales . A new, one-off “Experiment-Ale” is tapped every Friday in their Sunnyside taproom.
Utah’s loss was Colorado’s gain when Epic decided to expand in to friendlier regulatory territory a year ago with a large production brewery and 25-handle taproom in Denver. Check out Cory Pelc’s review of their excellent Escape to Colorado IPA for a hint of what’s available at this popular River North destination.
Opening this weekend in brewery-starved East Denver, Fiction Beer Company celebrates the love of craft beer and books. You’ll find six taps of literary-inspired beers organized by genres in their taproom.
In less than a year, Former Future Brewing has already produced a ridiculously popular Salted Caramel Porter and their first spontaneously-fermented coolship beer. Read Brady Akers’s brewery showcase for an idea of what to expect in their taproom.
Founded in 1994, Great Divide is well known for Titan IPA and Yetis of many stripes. Not so well known is the fact that PorchDrinking founder Tristan Chan will wrestle any animal or human for bottles of their discontinued and highly-coveted Grand Cru.
Hogshead offers a large selection of excellent English-style ales, primarily served from casks, in their Highland taprooom. If you’ve never understood the allure of casks over kegs, here’s your opportunity to compare the same beer both ways.
Jagged Mountain narrowly missed opening in time for last year’s GABF. Walk half a mile from the convention center to see what World Beer Cup and GABF award-winning head brewer Wayne Burns has to offer in their taproom.
After only a few months of operation, Edgewater’s popular Joyride Brewing Company recently expanded, doubling their capacity. Be sure to ask about the backstory of the elephant in their logo.
Lowdown Brewery + Kitchen is a recent addition to the Golden Triangle neighborhood. Manned by two brewing veterans from Rock Bottom, their 14,000 square-foot-brewery with a large patio offers at least ten house beers and rotating guest taps to compliment a full bar and kitchen.
After three years of planning, Lost Highway Brewing finally opened this week in Capitol Hill. Located next to the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer cafe, their taproom offers six beers ranging from pilsner to Belgian-style IPA. Exact hours of operation are unknown at this time.
Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew strives to use primarily Colorado-sourced ingredients when brewing their beer, even going so far as to malt their own grain. Up to ten beers are available in their busy River North taproom showcased here by Cory Pelc.
Styled after a British pub, Capitol Hill’s Pint’s Pub offers patrons house-brewed cask ales and a large selection of whisky.
A few months after opening as Denver Pearl Brewing earlier this summer, this father and son-operated brewery faced local and national legal threats over their name. Deciding to focus on the brewery and customers over petty legal squabbles, they adopted the name of the friendly Platt Park neighborhood whose residents pack their 10-handle taproom and patio.
GABF gold medal-winning Prost Brewing Company serves exclusively German-style beers brewed on an antique, 70-barrel copper system imported from Bamberg, Germany.
Since opening three years ago, Renegade Brewing Company has drawn hordes of craft beer drinkers to the Santa Fe art district with “offensively delicious” offerings like their GABF medal-winning Hammer and Sickle Russian imperial stout. Check out Tristan’s showcase of the place voted 2013’s best brewery taproom by readers of Denver Westword.
Dedication to brewing Belgian styles with a heavy focus on barrel-aging have earned River North Brewery many fans. Read Kara Loo and Kelissa Hieber’s showcase of their taproom to see why they topped Westword’s “best of” reader poll in 2014.
The convenient location of Rock Bottom’s Denver outpost makes it a popular destination for GABF attendees.
The mention of Blue Moon is unlikely to generate excitement with craft beer drinkers, but they should consider investigating why Sandlot Brewing has more than 40 GABF medals under their belt.
Need a breather from beer? Come to Denver’s newest cidery for exotic offerings like wine barrel-aged Le Chêne, Cascade and Citra-hopped Remedy, or the Bourbon barrel-aged Banjo showcased by Laura Graham.
Fighting a legal trademark battle over their name didn’t stop Strange Craft Beer from winning GABF medals with their Dr. Strangelove Barleywine and gluten-free Lemon Pale followed by a World Beer Cup Gold medal for their Cherry Kriek. Check out this showcase of their taproom by Tristan to see what all the buzz is about.
First-time visitors to this taproom might be intimidated by the black walls, skulls, 30-foot wooden table, or loud music playing in Denver’s first heavy metal brewery. That apprehension will fade like the heartbeat of a recently-sacrificed goat the moment they meet the friendly and knowledgeable bartenders or taste one of their nuanced and well-balanced beers. TRVE’s dedicated focus on quality and continued refinement of their brewing process – including the launch of a wildly successful sour program – have earned them many fans in Denver over the last years two years. Read Cory Pelc’s showcase of Eastern Candle to see what you’ve been missing.
Vine Street Pub is the Denver outpost of Boulder’s popular Mountain Sun restaurant group, a trio of brewpubs who’ve claimed six GABF medals. If medals don’t impress you, perhaps Coit Stevenson’s showcase can pique your interest.
Long known as “Denver’s smallest brewery”, Wit’s End recently upgraded to larger brewing system after brewing one-barrel batches since opening in 2011. Let’s hope they have enough of their World Beer Cup gold medal-winning Jean Claude Van Blonde saved up for all the thirsty GABF attendees.
Denver’s first brewpub, Wynkoop was founded way back in 1988 by John Hickenlooper. If you’re wondering why that name sounds familiar, it’s probably because Mr. Hickenlooper went on to become the mayor of Denver in 2003 and the governor of Colorado in 2014. If the name Wynkoop sounds familiar, perhaps you’re recalling their controversial (yet surprisingly good) Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout or their recent GABF medals. Stop by before or after the fest to see this historical Denver brewery showcased by Scott Hoffman.
Whew, that list is long enough to make anybody thirsty. These destinations are mapped below for your navigating convenience. Red markers designate breweries which are not pouring at GABF. Now get out there and start touring! If you tweet or Instagram your experience, please tag us using #PDGABF so we can share in the fun.