As the largest city in Colorado, which is ranked number one in total beer production in the U.S., Denver’s breweries are a must-see when you’re visiting the Mile High City. When I visited Denver this summer, I toured two breweries. Breckingridge Brewery and Tasting Room and Great Divide, which represent only a small slice of the brewing scene in the Mile High City.
From artisan craft beers to suds from the largest breweries in the country, it’s easy to find a brew that suits your flavor profile preference, even when, like me, you aren’t a big beer drinker. I tend to drink wine over beer, ó it’s always fun to explore nw flavors and types of pairings, which you can do at both Denver-area breweries — and then some.
Black Shirt Brewing Co.
We always love a good old-fashioned family business, like the black Shirt Brewing Co., founded in 1999. At the sleek, no-nonsense industrial-style taproom, you can sip on your favorite carefully crafted beer from the brewery’s four-barrel brew house. If to-go cups are more your speed, BSB recently began bottling and canning beer on-premises. Enjoy $2.50 half pours or $5 for full pints. Refill your growler for $14.
Breckinridge Brewery & Tasting Room
If there’s one thing that pairs well with beer, it’s barbecue. At Breckinridge Brewery & Pub, you can have both. Breckenridge Brewery is Denver’s largest brewery, producing over 65,000 barrels a year, and growing every day. They offer four free brewery tours on the hour every Saturday beginning at 1:00 p.m. Fall in love with their Avalanche Ale or the hearty Carolina-style barbecue fare, but don’t get too attached to the space — the company has plans for a $20 million expansion to Littleton in 2015.
In a town where independent craft breweries are rapidly gaining popularity, you still don’t want to skip the legendary Coors Brewery in Golden. As the biggest single-site brewer in the world, Coors can brew up to 22 million barrels and package up to 16 million barrels annually. Take a free 30-minute, self-paced tour of the brew house, malt house, and packaging complex to see how over 100 work teams make some of the world’s most popular beers.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
Located in the same building that houses artisan food hall The Source, Crooked Stave specializes in sour and bitter beers as well as cool collaborations with other breweries. In contrast with the eclectic vibe in ultra-edgy building, the intimate brewpub boasts a no-frills décor and a laid-back attitude. Pull up a stool at the bar and select a full pint for about $10 or taste a few before you commit, at $2-4 apiece.
Denver Beer Company
There’s little that the brewers at DBC haven’t tried when it comes to infusing unique flavors into classic beers. Think pumpkin style ales, kaffir lime wheat beers, and a graham cracker porter that rotate with the seasons. DBC has one of the largest tap rooms in the Denver area and is even large enough to be dog-friendly, so you can bring your four-legged pals along for the ride. The brews range from $5-7 and pair perfectly with DBC’s large pretzels.
Former Future Brewing
James Howat and his team of hopheads are turning the adage “out with the old and in with the new” on its head. A former home brewer, Howat is using his background in science to recreate recipes from the 1800s, like a New World cream ale, a chocolate milk stout, and a single-strain yeast saison. On tap you’ll find a lineup of core beers along with seasonal sips at moderate prices.
Named by RateBeer.com as the 12th Best Brewers in the World in 2013, the Great Divide is a must-see for anyone living in or visiting Denver. The owner, Brian Dunn, began as a home brewer and in 1993 founded what would eventually become a celebrated craft brewery housed in a former dairy processing plant. Great Divide’s beers are distinctly Denver, from the Hercules Double IPA to the signature Yeti Imperial Stout.
Jagged Mountain Brewery
Less than a year old, the Rocky Mountain newcomer runs seven taps, including the 13-percent ABV First Descent and a variety of saisons and American IPAs. Pair your $6 beer with eats from the ever-changing lineup of food trucks peddling everything from sandwiches to tacos and more.
Our Mutual Friends Malt & Brew
If you’re trying to adapt to the whole locavore movement, you’ll appreciate the fact that Our Mutual Friends features a selection of ales crafted from locally sourced ingredients, with 100 percent of the barley used coming from Colorado farms. With five session-style ales on tap, the industrial taproom, housed in a former ice cream shop, emulates the style of an English pub. Aiming to establish as a gathering place, Our Mutual Friends has a shelves of books that you can check out in between visits, as well as a comfortable outdoor patio for lounging in small groups or solo.
TRVE Brewing Co.
At TRVE Brewing Co., tea-infused beer is one of the milder options that you’ll find on the menu. Brewers take generic base brews and add their own unique twists, like combining oats with a session ale, saison with Chinese smoked tea, and its noteworthy Wanderlust, a Belgian-American pale ale fusion. Enjoy three-ounce tasting portions for $1 each or sip a moderately priced pint from one of eight taps.