The Best Breweries in Denver Right Now
Anyone who's ever heard of a lil' city called "Denver" knows it's a place that's spoiled rotten with breweries (around 150 to be exact). And while the past couple of years has seen the bubble begin to burst with -- gasp -- closures of a few, some might say that means only the strong can survive.
Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t bask in RiNO patios of Ratio or Our Mutual Friend. Or visit the spot that started it all at Wynkoop. Or revel in blasphemy and fun at TRVE before heading to Station 26 for a fresh Juicer Banger or Comrade for a Superpower. Still, what follows, here, is a list of notable Denver beer makers for the here and now, all within the city limits. Whether they’re brand spankin’ new or are doing something remarkable, each and everyone deserves a visit sooner than later.
In-house ales and over 40 sandwich options, soundtracked by the Grateful Dead
The Gnome took its sweet time opening up, but it’s been worth the wait. There’s a sandwich shop, brewery, bar and a Grateful Dead listening party all together, all under one roof. You want food? There are 48 varieties of enormous sandwiches, including ones that utilize East Coast transplant-pleasing Boars Head, Taylor Ham, and Rosenberg’s bagels. How about that beer? There are guest taps, sure, but do yourself a favor and order the stellar house brown, a mellow, rich take on the style.
An Egyptian-themed O.G. is resurrected and better than ever
On a recent visit to Oasis, I got to chatting with the fellow next to me and he started talking about how, as a child in Colorado, he always remembered Oasis’s well-designed, Egypt-centric beer labels. And I was like, “Same!” Even though we couldn’t drink it at the time, many youths of the ‘90s remember well Oasis beers in the fridge. And, now, Oasis is back. Re-launched in November, the sleek space in the belly of an old church is a must-see. And the beers? The old recipes have returned -- as have some new ones -- and you’d be wise to try the Capstone E.S.B. and Tut Brown Ale.
The Fort Collins legend moves into Denver’s hippest hood
Wait, how can a Fort Collins brewery crack this list? Well, because the venerated Odell has staked ground on Larimer Street. And when one of the best breweries in the world -- NAY, universe -- lands in Denver, it’s worth shouting about. It’s new, intimate taproom boasts lots of Odell standards (90 Shilling, Easy Street Wheat and so forth) but what makes it a destination is its small batch one-offs like big IPAs and tart sours. Need another reason to visit? Check out the impressive patio.
High five some dads as you quaff a wide spectrum of nice beers
Launching a brewery is no easy task, not least of all because maintaining some level of consistency early on is a rough task. Long Table has its shit together, though, and most of its beers a eminently drinkable, perhaps most notably a smooth English bitter. It’s stroller city, here, as you might imagine in this stretch of Park Hill but that doesn’t mean most of the dads aren’t ready to party in the taproom or out on the shaded patio.
Small batches and a small space are a recipe for success
The just-opened Novel Strand is starting small. It’s hours only range from Thursday through Sunday and shares its space with the Queen City Coffee Collective. Its debut menu features a handful of beers, including an IPA, a stout, and a wit. Its taproom is cozy. And it’s all quite, well, novel. Why? Because overexpansion and overreach have doomed many a Colorado brewery (and many to come). But here’s to a long go for this solid neighborhood joint.
Ballsy brews that’d make any Belgian blush
Bruz is a little off the beaten path but that works just fine for its M.O., crafting big, bold Belgian beers. The spot is large and polished, much like its beers. Skip the wimpy stuff and head right in for the Valor golden ale and the King Quadrupel. Both are brimming with complexity... and alcohol. Come to think of it, save a lil' extra money for an Uber or Lyft when you visit.
Come for the beer, stay for the food
When you step into Briar Common, it feels a little bit more like a restaurant than a brewery. That’s because there’s a full bar and it’s cranking out a fancy schmancy menu stewarded by DJ Nagle, who cut his teeth at well-respected Denver eateries like Humboldt: Farm Fish Wine and Blue Island Oyster Bar. (Whatever you do at Briar Common, get the deviled eggs.) The beers are on point, too. Start with the house beer, a pale ale that balances hoppiness and maltiness like a boss.
Beer globes to take you around the, ahem, world
The Sojourner’s unique selling proposition, as it were, is that it develops brews with unique international twists -- a concept originally inspired by one of its co-founders past archeological digs across the globe. The Indiana Jones-esque decor and sentiment -- the brewery offers 25% off on Thursdays if you bring your valid passport in -- don’t fall prey to being gimmicky, though, mostly thanks to the delicious final products. The basil IPA has the nose of a pizzeria and is so well-balanced that any trepidation about ordering it dissipates upon first sip. The kolsch has lemongrass and ginger but just hints of ‘em -- it’s as refreshing as can be. And a red IPA is maltier than almost any other of the India Pale Ale variety.
Cheers to 25 years of greatness
At least as far as Denver’s city limits go, it’d be hard to argue that there’s a brewery with a portfolio as impressive as Great Divide’s. Beer for beer, and year in and year out, the (now) two locations have served toothsome suds across the spectrum. And, now, they're celebrating 25 years of it. There’s a huge bash planned for this summer and the team is planning not just one but two special anniversary beers: Thrillist can exclusively reveal a special imperial Yeti will be available across the country, while a double hazy IPA will only be available in Colorado. So, now is as good of a time as ever to raise a glass at the cozy location near Coors Field or take a tour of the imposing, impressive facility on Brighton Boulevard.
A Fort Collins big shot moves into a Denver penthouse
Heard of these guys before? It almost wouldn’t be worth pointing out the Fort Collins giant’s new stakes in Denver if they weren’t so damn impressive. As part of the Woods, a bar atop the new Source Hotel, New Belgium is not only filling the taps with some of its faves but is brewing a handful of special beers in a facility within the building. Notable ones include a not-too-hazy Northeast IPA, fruity saison, and a spruce porter that’d be perfect welcoming you home from a retreat to the mountains. Those Rockies, themselves, are just part of the killer view from the space, a perfect place to impress out-of-towners... or literally anyone with a pulse.
Can’t decide on a glass of wine or beer? Now you don’t have to.
Liberati is a rare bird: The polished, substantial, standalone space on Champa specializes in beer-wine hybrids and serves a full menu of handmade Italian food. It’s very sleek and feels more like a restaurant than a brewery, but looks can be deceiving. A flight is the way to go here, so that you can acquaint yourself with its oenobeers -- and perhaps acquaint yourself with oenobeers for the first time (basically beers made from grapes). The Verba Volant is billed as a Belgian dubbel but has more in common with a glass of Malbec. And the Facta Non Verba is awash in scents of Sauvignon blanc yet tastes like a light pale ale. Whatever you put in your mouth at Liberati, it probably won’t be like anything like what’s available at another Denver brewery and saluti to that.
Unexpected beers in an unexpected setting
See if you can pick up on a trend, here: This intimate taproom on South Broadway offers a wide variety of brews -- and each one has a tweak that makes it its own. The berries and cream “Nutshake,” for instance, is a vegan milkshake IPA with all the smoothness you’d expect from one with added lactose. Also worth seeking out is the Beauty of Neglect, a mixed-culture golden ale that’s far more quaffable than it is intimidating. If you're a more adventurous beer drinking, Alternation should easily make it onto your brewery crawl.
A toast to the Incas and Aztecs
When Thrillist was leaving another brewery on this list headed for Dos Luces, a bartender commented, “That place is great. Just don’t expect to drink, like, beer.” Umm… okay. Into the unknown we stepped and found a deep space that specializes in Peruvian and Mexican drinks. Its chichas are rooted in the Incas and produce malty, frothy, sweet drinks. And its pulques -- that was the Aztec’s game -- are more akin to a sour beer. And just to be clear… Dos Luces does serve beer, in fact, culled from some notable guest breweries. There’s nothing quite like this spot in Colorado and, perhaps, even in the United States.
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