The Best Breweries in Denver Right Now
The best of the best.
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.
Cerebral purports to combine scientific methodology and an artistic viewpoint to every brew it churns out. The menu is constantly changing, with limited releases coming out nearly every couple of weeks. The beers are always creative, with a rotating cast of hard seltzers featuring flavors that generally trend towards the unusual. Think navel orange yuzu and raspberry lime.
Opened in 2014, Black Project has quickly become one of the Great American Beer Festival’s real darlings with its ever-changing menu of sour and wild-fermented beers. The room is generally dimly-lit, with a crowd that clearly knows what they’re doing. There’s a sour stout with blackberries, and several incredible dry-hopped renditions. While being informed by Lambic traditions, Black Project takes pride in forging its own path with each new release.
The Grateful 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 55 varieties of sandwiches, both hot and cold, including several varieties featuring Taylor Ham. The beer veers towards the traditional, with several varieties of IPAs being joined by the slightly more outlandish Lemon Raspberry Blonde.
Crooked Stave is another one of Denver’s great OGs of all things sour. Opened in 2010, the brewery has been serving a range of fruited, hopped and legitimately massive brews from within The Source. This is one of the city’s real institutions, and has always been emblematic of the community’s tendency towards keeping things on the cutting edge. To best understand the place, try the Nightmare’s On Brett, a giant dark ale aged in whiskey barrels. To further expand the experience, each beer has a list of well-considered food pairings with items like triple cream brie and duck confit displaying the decidedly culinarily oriented approach.
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 Zoser Oatmeal Stout and the Ain’t That a Peach Cream Ale.
Five Points and Sloans Lake
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. Recently Odell opened it’s Sloan’s Lake Brewhouse and Pizzeria, featuring a span of house-made pies that range from the more traditional into wilder interpretations including the Wild West with bison, chili verde, smoked gouda, mozzarella, and an olive oil base.
North Park Hill
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 are eminently drinkable, perhaps most notably the 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.
Cerveceria Colorado is the Denver Beer Co’s answer to Mexican-style microbrewing. Taking all the experience of it’s sister brewery, the younger sibling produces some of the city’s most flavorful brews. There’s a churro stout and an horchata blonde ale, with the Cocolimon Coconut Lime Sour epitomizing summer with each drop.
Novel Strand keeps a tight menu of beautifully executed brews made from exceptional ingredients and a general commitment for doing things the long way. The current list features collaborations with both Goldspot Brewing and Call to Arms Brewing. The complexity is perhaps best exemplified by the Third Time’s Ice Cream, which sees an oak fermented ale conditioned on hand sorted, whole fruit, organic blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. It is then naturally carbonated in kegs and bottles with the same microbes that created it.
Bruz is a little off the beaten path but that works just fine for the style it’s continued to cultivate—crafting big, bold Belgian beers. The spot is large and polished, much like its beers. Divided into both sessionable and bigger Belgians, the ABV can reach as high as nearly 14 percent, with more creative varieties veering all the way out to a Kiwi Grapefruit Blonde.
When you step into Briar Common, it feels a little bit more like a restaurant than a brewery. While the beers are certainly reputable, the food menu is approached with a zeal that’s more advanced than many of its peers. There are duck tacos and ahi tuna poke, as well as curry salmon and a range of sturdy burgers. The beers are on point, too. Start with the Briar, an utterly crushable American pale ale.
Ballpark, Rino, Airport and Castle Rock
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 four locations have served toothsome suds across the spectrum. 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, as well as enjoying members of the growing line as a preflight libation.
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 Source Hotel, New Belgium is not only filling the taps with some of its favorites but is brewing a handful of special beers in a facility within the building. Best of all is the view of the Rockies, which provide a perfect backdrop for knocking back a Fat Tire.
Dos Luces is by no means a traditional beer brewery, generally specializing in Peruvian and Mexican beverages including chicha, pulque, tepache and hard agua frescas. Though 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.