Some say the Colorado mantra is "work hard, play hard, and drink beer (hard?)," so it's no surprise that plenty of places excel at encouraging that last item. When you want to ensure you're drinking nothing but the finest brews (and if you didn't, why would you live here?) these are the places you need to go.
*Note: brewery tap rooms are great, and you should drink at them, but they were not included in this exercise, which is devoted to bars serving a bunch of fine selections from different breweries.
If you’re going to throw the beverage of choice in your name, you'd better have a list to back it up. While whiskey and patterned sweaters are abundant, the beer list is nothing to mess with. The locals are represented with Renegade, Oskar Blues, Avery, and Bull & Bush’s Release the Hounds cellar-grade bomber, among others. Look for cask selections like Great Divide Yeti aged on cocoa nibs.
If you find yourself reading a beer list thoughtfully composed of 45+ brews under headings like "Algebra", "Trigonometry", and "Quantum Mechanics", you are either reading the best math book ever or, more likely, Euclid Hall’s menu. Each heading relates to the complexity of the brews using math pseudonyms. "Algebra" boasts bottles like Left Hand’s Sawtooth American Style ESB and Great Divide’s Claymore Scotch Ale, while "Quantum Mechanics" (remember, more complex) has the likes of Boulevard’s Dark Truth Imperial Stout and Avery’s Reverend Belgian Quadruple.
Falling is exactly what you’ll be doing if you attempt to conquer the seemingly endless beer list at Falling Rock Tap House. There are 75+ taps, but this isn't one of those places offering up quantity without the quality; the selection is thoughtful, Colorado-heavy (of course), and constantly being updated with options you can't find everywhere. Take a look at their vintage bottle menu if it happens to be a special occasion or if you happen to be rich. Or both!
This seasoned LoDo dive bar has consistently touted a respectable beer list, while its neighbors in the 'hood cater to... less cultivated palates. The local stuff's steadily available, but it’s their out-of-towners you should be looking to here (yes, SOMETIMES they make good beer in other places). Among the visitors you might encounter: Bruery Smoking Wood, Jolly Pumpkin La Roja, Surly Bender, and Local Option’s Blood Ov The Kings.
Holding down the Highlands in sudsy satisfaction is The Highland Tap & Burger. Pairing nicely with the seriously good food selection (like... spoiler alert, the burgers!) is an almost exclusively Colorado tap list (about 20 strong) that makes room for an occasional impressive out of town interloper like Green Flash Le Freak. The bottle list is equally exciting. Even more exciting? Some of these beers are $3 during happy hour.
Everyone knows pizza and beer are the perfect duo, and the folks at Hops & Pie play matchmaker in this regard to perfection. The pizza speaks for itself, but you'd be remiss not to pair it with something sudsy you've never tried before (or have tried, and want again because it was delicious). Maybe an Older Viscosity from Port Brewing. Maybe a little Uncle Jacob's stout. Either way: beer + pizza = happiness.
The new kids on the block, Work & Class (they opened within the last year), throw some seriously good food in your face, so it’s no surprise that they also throw some seriously good beer, too. (Note: they don’t really throw anything, because that’s a poor way to do business). They offer up $5 dollar pints, so mixing Great Divide’s Hoss Rye Lager, Avery’s Ellie’s Brown Ale, and Steamworks Kolsch never do too much damage to the wallet. Their bottle selection offers up much to be desired, with suds from Ommegang, Firestone, Victory, and North Coast.
The brew pub in Wheat Ridge may host the most ever-changing and comprehensive local tap list in Colorado. Daily changes are made to the kegs, so that pint of 4.0 GPA from Bull & Bush or the Biere De Triomphe from Diebolt your downing may be easily switched to something like Elevation’s Fan Boy or River North’s Barrel Blonde at the drop of a glass.
The Cheeky Monk is your Belgian beer Valhalla. Housing one of the best selections of classic Belgian draughts (aka stuff you'll misprounounce) like Affligem, De Koninck, and Cuvée des Jacobins, it's definitely your best place for a taste of waffle-land. Their bottle list is also deep with excellent lambic brews, ales, wit biers, and sours.
When the three brothers behind Freshcraft put their heads together, they thankfully came up with a restaurant with an amazing beer bar up front sporting 100 plus selections and a menu sporting creations like PB, PB & J (the extra PB is for pork belly!). The stockpile of cans and bottles is staggering, but if you want to make things easier on yourself, refine your focus to the tap list (25 strong) and look for selections like Avery Mephistopheles, Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin, and Epic Pomme Baril.
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1. Argyll Whisky Beer Gastropub1035 E 17th Avenue, Denver
2. Euclid Hall1317 14th St, Denver
3. Falling Rock Taphouse1919 Blake St, Denver
4. Star Bar2137 Larimer St, Denver
5. Highland Tap and Burger2219 W 32nd Ave, Denver
6. Hops & Pie3920 Tennyson St., Denver
7. Work & Class2500 Larimer St, Denver
8. Colorado Plus Brewpub6995 W 38th Ave, Wheat Ridge
9. Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe534 E Colfax Ave, Denver
10. Freshcraft1530 Blake St, Denver
Argyll's Uptown location has a menu full of traditional British fare -- don't miss their version of the Scotch egg, or their extensive beer and whiskey lists.
Snack on schnitzel, sausage, and poutine at this beer bar on 14th St.
The phrase "less is more" sometimes can apply to beer bars with a small, curated list of rare, specifically chosen beers, but in the case of Mile High's Falling Rock, more is more. It's not only one of Denver's more important bars, it's easily one of the country's, with 30%+ of the 90 taps featuring CO beers, along with 100+ bottles from around the world. The brick walls are lined with beer bottles and vintage signs, and there's ample couch seating and booth space in addition to pool tables and dart boards.
A welcome dive among all the large party warehouses in LoDo, Star Bar has their fair share of Colorado craft beers and tasty 'tails. They have karaoke on Thursday nights, Skee- ball, and an outdoor bar/ lounge area equipped with adult slushies. The bartenders are also wayyy more knowledgeable than your average dive bar drink slingers.
A patio with a fire pit might draw crowds during the colder months, but 16 52" TVs, an exclusively Colorado tap list, and significant happy hour deals keep them coming the rest of the year. Of course, some people do come to Highland Tap and Burger for the food itself, which constitutes surprisingly original takes on the usual pub grub. Fair warning: most of the crowd is college-age.
Converting a former art gallery into a neighborhood haunt highlighted by a bar built from a recycled bowling lane, H&P is run by husband & wife chefs intent on bringing elevated brews and classical cooking techniques to the old-fashioned pizza joint, something even Escoffier wouldn't scoff at, and not just because he's dead.
Work & Class keeps it simple: a choose-a-meat-and-side menu with delicious options like Stout-Braised Short Ribs and two types of Rotisserie Chicken, a respectably large beer, wine, and spirits menu, and a no-nonsense attitude all make this spot an easy pick for an after-work hangout.
Colorado Plus, a Wheat Ridge brewpub (its first and only) stocks an astonishing 56 taps of Colorado's finest beers, from the big guys to up-and-coming micros, all available with a full menu of pub food.
This East Colfax Belgian beer establishment has authentic Belgian drinks (like the Kopstootje, a Belgian shot-and-a-beer combo with Houblon Chouffe beer and a Genever shot) alongside authentic Belgian eats (like their rabbit stew) to soak it all up.
LoDo beer temple Freshcraft, aptly named because they're serving up "fresh food, craft beer", switches it up with 25 beers on tap and snacks like BBQ crepes and garlic chili chicken wings to get your mouth watering, so you'll fix that by ordering more beer.