Colorado continues to make a name for itself in the beer world. The state is home to New Belgium Brewery, the third largest craft brewery in the U.S., and a Coors brewery location that is now the largest single brewery facility in the world. Both are within an hour’s drive of Denver and are just two examples of this area’s beer noteworthiness. The Mile-High City also hosts the annual Great American Beer Festival, one of the most prestigious beer festivals in the country, which draws beer experts from all over the world to taste more than 2,200 brews. The fact that Denver continues to open up craft breweries matched by the city’s laid-back mountain vibe make the city an ideal place to throw back a cold one—especially at one of these five brew spots.
Breckenridge Brewery started in 1990 as Colorado’s third craft brewery in the historic, mountain town of Breckenridge and later turned into a chain of five brewpubs and ale houses across the state. The brewery’s Denver location was the first to offer the beer in 6 and 12-packs. It is now the city’s largest brewery, producing over 50,000 barrels a year, which are distributed in 32 states. Its best-selling beer is the Avalanche amber ale, made from a blend of pale and caramel malts. Guests can meet in the Tasting Room for some tasty in-house smoked barbecue before starting one of the free tours offered every Saturday.
Great Divide Brewing Co. started in the early 1990s at the forefront of Denver’s craft beer scene. It has since won 18 Great American Beer Festival medals and received five World Beer Cup awards. Its taproom features 16 taps of seasonal and year-round beers. Guests visit to sample the taproom-only drafts as well as brewery fan favorites such as the Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, which has a distinct vanilla flavor. The taproom does not serve food; however, it hosts some of the city’s tastiest food trucks to appease customers’ appetites.
Wynkoop Brewing Co., Colorado’s first brewpub and Denver’s oldest, was started in 1988 by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper as one of the first restaurant’s established in today’s popular Lower Downtown Denver neighborhood (or LoDo as locals call it), now famous for its culinary scene. The head brewer crafts the company’s more than 40 beers in a vintage, copper-clad, 20-barrel brewing system. The brewery’s popular Rail Yard and Patty’s Chile Beer, both available in cans, remain customer favorites. The Railyard Ale is even used as an ingredient in the restaurant’s Jump the Tracks beer cocktail, mixed with house-infused cranberry vodka, St. Germain, bitters and lemon juice. Pool players will want to make their way up to the second floor, where the facility houses 22 pool tables—the perfect way to end a beer-filled day.
Situated in the heart of Denver’s popular LoDo district, the Falling Rock Tap House offers guests an ideal setting during the summer months with its large outside street level patio. More than 2,200 beer bottles line the walls of the interior bar. These are not beers offered at the tap house, but instead the owner’s personal beer bottle collection—90 percent of which he drank himself. The restaurant offers a menu of made-from-scratch items such as the pork green chili bowl, a Colorado staple that pairs perfectly with one of the 75-plus beers on tap or 130-plus bottled beers in the fridge.
When entering Bull & Bush Brewery, guests feel as if they’re walking into a pub in the English countryside. The brewery is modeled after the original Bull & Bush, located in Hampstead Heath near London. In fact, the twin brothers who started the Denver brewery brought back artifacts such as the copper top bar from the original pub to give their restaurant an authentic feel. Said to be one of the nation’s first "sports bars"—established in 1971—Bull & Bush is also known for its brewery, which later opened in 1997. Its Man Beer, a British-style IPA, was awarded a Gold award at the 2012 World Beer Cup. Bull & Bush is also a highlight in the local community, engaging the public with Sunday Night Movies and Sunday Night Jazz, which are however preempted if the Denver Broncos are playing Sunday Night Football.