SE Denver Winter Cruise

‘Tis not normally the season for biking but last Saturday we took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather for a quick (thanks, limited daylight) ride around southeast Denver. To minimize time & distance we shortcutted down a number of streets, most of which are bikeways, but you could also spend much of the ride on trails in the warmer months with more time. If you drive, it probably works best to park at Comrade and ride to Copper Kettle to avoid a decent uphill climb after a strenuous ride and a few beers!

20181205_185334_HDR.jpgAt our first stop, Copper Kettle Brewing Company, we marveled at the nice weather while sitting on the sunny patio. Copper Kettle has a relatively wide variety of beers to satisfy most tastes, including light beers, IPAs, a high-gravity or two, and usually at least one sour and something dark. The good-sized taproom and large patio will let you spread out and there are plenty of spots to lock bikes. As usual we had great service, although arriving at opening time with only one other patron no doubt helped with that!

It’s probably best if you follow a map app for the exact directions, but the general plan after leaving Copper Kettle involves mostly street riding to get to the Cherry Creek Trail, crossing Cherry Creek South Drive and cutting through Cook Park. Taking Florida Avenue west reaches a dead-end at South High School. After cutting through trails/lots south of the school, more street riding south and west reaches Platt Park. The last few blocks involved threading the needle down busy side streets including Pearl Street but we arrived safely and used the patio fence for a bike rack.

Platt Park Brewing Co. has just a small patio, but a large indoor taproom and garage doors that make it feel like you are outside in warmer weather. The brewery also serves a wide range of beers for almost every taste, from light to dark with a few tangents that can get interesting. The servers are invariably attentive and knowledgeable, and the location in the middle of a neighborhood gives it a sort of local-pub vibe. Although we didn’t take advantage of it, Platt Park also had a food truck, which seems pretty standard for them. After a quick beer and a half it was time to get moving and beat the rapidly-approaching sunset.Platte-Park-Bar.jpg

From Platt Park there are numerous paths to Comrade, including reversing the original route and then heading south at the Cherry Creek Trail (map below). However we went south from the brewery and navigated streets with bikeways to pick up the Highline Canal Trail at Mamie Doud Eisenhower Park near Colorado Bouldvard and Dartmouth Avenue. We took that to Quebec Street and Iliff Avenue. From there we quickly found Comrade to the east in an auto 20181208_154744_HDRstrip mall. Note: to shorten the route cut out part of the Highline Canal Trail by exiting at Iliff Avenue and rejoining the trail a bit east (shown on the attached map)

At our final destination, Comrade Brewing Co., we grabbed a large table to celebrate our completion of the ride and enjoy the energy of their large taproom. Their beers focus mostly on IPAs and hoppy brews but Comrade usually has at least one or two other options for non hop-heads. In the summer the entire front of the taproom opens to the outdoors although they do not have a patio. Service is reasonably good, but bar-only and they typically have a food truck that several in our group used to refuel after the ride. There’s a bike rack out front.

Link to Route Map Described Above: https://goo.gl/maps/4DcVKKf3PXx

View of a Different Option:

 

 

 

Brewery Snapshot: 14er Brewing Company

Part of the RINO herd of craft breweries, 14er Brewing Company pretty much conforms to the standard plan: industrial space, bunch of IPAs, bar games. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area, but don’t expect anything ground-breaking. 

BEER LINEUP: The small-ish tap list consists of four flagship14er sign beers and a number of rotating ones, tilted heavily toward IPAs. Virtually all of the non-IPA beers are lighter and many have a fruit component.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom is divided into several small rooms providing a somewhat cozy feel, although the brick walls and minimal decoration detracts from that a bit. The warehouse/dock serves as a patio of sorts with outdoor bar games like cornhole. Indoor games are available in a lounge area. On the weekend afternoon when we visited the taproom was crowded with what seemed like a neighborhood crowd of hipsters and older couples; no families or kids. With the full house, the hard rock music playing and patrons constantly coming and going the bar felt vibrant and energetic.

SERVICE: The servers were chipper and efficient, and took the time to explain both their core beers and the rotating options. Bar service only.14er Bar

LOCATION: Situated at 28th & Walnut in an old industrial building, 14er comes with all of the positives and negatives of any RINO brewery. The walkable district offers plenty of options for food, a pub crawl or other entertainment, however parking can occasionally be tricky. Fortunately the area is relatively convenient to public transit, pedicabs, and exploring on foot.

STANDOUT BEER: Rocky Mountain Saison. This 2016 GABF gold medal winner takes a typical saison and puts a Colorado spin on it by adding jalepeños, lime, and cilantro. The clear, yellow appearance aligns with the light flavor of the beer. The Belgian saison yeast and peppers give the beer a spiciness along the line of peppercorns without any jalepeño heat, and the yeast, lime and cilantro add a crispness and dry, refreshing finish.

Weekend Beer Update

This weekend comes jam-packed with anniversaries and ugly sweater parties, plus a few culinary events and – if you are willing to brave the elements a bit – the monthly brewery bus tour. Cheers!

Friday 7 – Sunday 9: Up in Brighton, Something Brewery celebrates their third anniversary with a weekend-long party focusing on unique beer releases including a cookie-themed lineup on Friday and barrel-aged beers on Saturday.

Saturday 8 – Sunday 9: One of the newest entrants into the brewery20181201_180521_hdr.jpg scene celebrates its first anniversary this weekend. Alternation Brewing Company will mark their first anniversary with bands, food, and their first foray into canning and bottling.

Saturday 8: Time to break out the hideous Christmas clothing for what has become an annual tradition: The Ugly Sweater Christmas Party! Kicking off the season, Westfax Brewing Company starts the fashion freakshow at 11 a.m. with some free glassware plus food and of course a prize for the ugliest sweater at 1 p.m.

Saturday 8: Things will also get ugly at Landlocked Ales in Lakewood, as they host an ugly sweater charity 5k run along with an ugly sweater party and contest. The entry fee gets you a bunch of swag and supports Drink for Pink Colorado, or you can just come to drink some beers and gawk at the sheer ugliness of it all. Note: The race is a ticketed event.

Saturday 8: On a nicer vibe, Dry Dock Brewing Co. also gets into the holiday spirit with a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. In addition to the festive pair, Christmas carolers will help set the holiday mood.

Saturday 8: Not to be left out, Strange Craft will hold their own ugly sweater party starting at 6 p.m. and will also celebrate the anniversary of Wit’s End Brewing Company, which merged into Strange last year.

Saturday 8: It’s also anniversary time for Station 26 Brewing Co., which celebrates five years of brewing with two special releases, live music, and food.20180129_163411_HDR

Saturday 8: The anniversary-filled weekend continues with Lone Tree Brewing’s seventh, featuring special beer tappings, food, and a casino night benefiting Freedom Service Dogs.

Saturday 8: Up in Longmont, Grossen Bart Brewery turns four with special beer releases, music, giveaways and even face painting.

Saturday 8: Also up north, Asher Brewing Company in Boulder holds their ninth anniversary bash with pours of their organic beer (it’s Boulder of course!) along with food and a photo booth.

Saturday 8: The final up-north anniversary this week is Funkwerks’ eighth, where they will release two special beers for the occasion, with a free cheers at 5 p.m.

Saturday 8: Back in Denver, Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company celebrates six years with special bottle and tap releases.

20170211_211127Saturday 8: For foodies, Fermaenta Brewery will host an all-day beer and cheese pairing that matches four of their beers with four cheeses selected by a Certified Cheese Professional (sort of like a Cicerone of cheese). Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 8: For those with a sweet tooth, Fiction Beer Company Fiction Beerpairs four of their beers with chocolates custom-designed by Chocolate Lab all afternoon. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 8: If all of these options have your head spinning, then take the easy route and latch on to the West Side Brewery Bus Loop, which this month includes Joyride Brewing Company, Call To Arms Brewing Company, Westfax Brewing Company and Zuni Street Brewing Co. As usual, a $5 ticket gets you a ride on the bus from brewery to brewery and those who complete all four get a free future beer. Start at any of the participating breweries and, no surprise, the theme of the month is ugly sweaters.

 

Beer of The Month: Christmas Beer

Happy December! What better choice to explore this month besides Christmas Beer?

Copper Kettle ChristmasThe Christmas Beer style is very broadly defined, but some generalizations can be made. Typical characteristics include malt-forwardness with low hop flavors, and a recognizable aromatic component usually along the lines of spicy, bready and/or dark-fruit. To ward off the winter cold, Christmas beers have a dark color and full body, often accompanied by a high alcohol content.

Christmas beers allow for a lot of creativity, although most revolve around spice components like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The winter spice flavors are frequently accented by “darker” or sweeter flavors such as caramel, chocolate or nuttiness to provide balance. Additionally, some Christmas beers have dark fruit flavors such as plum, raisin, fig or orange peel. Over the years I’ve even had one or two that tasted more like potpourri, and not in a good way. That said, I’d highly recommend cozying up to the bartender, asking some questions to establish that brewery’s flavor profile, and trying a splash before ordering a full pour.

 

Weekend Beer Update

Seems like everyone’s still working off last weekend’s Thanksgiving food coma and shopping hangover as there aren’t a lot of planned events this weekend. I guess everyone deserves a recovery weekend every once in a while!

AveryFriday 30 – Sunday 2: Coffee fan? Beer fan? Get your fix at Avery Brewing Co.’s Tweakend with the release of this year’s Tweak, a bourbon-barrel-aged imperial coffee stout. Avery will also pour vertical Tweak tastings from their cellar and have Tweak-inspired food.

Saturday 1: Fort Collins gets all the action today. McClellan’s Brewing Company celebrates their third anniversary with the release of a winter warmer, while Black Bottle Brewery hits six with special releases & tappings including a vertical of Angry Elf, their barrel-aged American strong.

Sunday 2: Get an 11 a.m. start at Ratio Beerworks’ Hazy Holidaze brunch with an acoustic performance from Red City Radio, brunch food, and some special beer releases. Note: This is a ticketed event.

20180930_170344_HDRSunday 2: Always wanted to learn how to get crafty and sew? Hit up Kokopelli Beer Company for Sipping and Sewing for some sewing-skills education and walk out with a finished Christmas stocking. Sewing starts at 2 p.m. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Stanley Beer Hall

Although it’s been open for a couple of years, I only just got around to trying the Stanley Beer Hall at Stanley Marketplace adjacent to the Stapleton neighborhood. It’s a relatively unique concept for the Denver market and for me at least, a mixed bag of cool ideas and mild annoyance.

How it Works: When you arrive you have to check 20170719_195209_hdr-e1501000049807.jpgin at the front desk to get a card that allows you to pour your own beer and keeps a running tab. A row of taps with electronic flow monitoring sits at the back of the restaurant. When you want a drink you wave your card in front of the monitor and then dispense as much beer as you want. Beers are priced per ounce and the system tracks of how much you’ve purchased via your card.

First, the Pro’s:

  • The flexible pour-yourself concept lets you try a greater variety of different beers by having partial glasses or enjoy smaller pours of high-gravity beers.
  • They have a relatively wide selection of craft beers and ciders (plus one lonely Coors Light)  including seasonals and unique beers from Front-Range breweries
  • The taps also offer a few wines and cocktails for non-beer-drinkers
  • Each time you pour, the LCD screen shows how many total ounces you have consumed so you can monitor how much you’ve had
  • You can load your card for a pre-set amount if you have a drinking budget or leave it open-ended and pay at the end.
  • They serve food. This part is done by servers, which makes the self-service beer part a little confusing as employees are already making the rounds of the place.

Now the Cons:

  • You do all the work, constantly leaving your seat to trek across20180331_151504_HDRthe restaurant to the taps. This is particularly annoying if you are eating as well as drinking.
  • Beer info is only provided on the screens at the taps and even that is rather limited. As a result, things jam up while everyone tries to read the various tiny screens to make their choices.
  • Much of the beer is relatively expensive if you convert ounces to pints ($7-$9 per pint). While the LCDs show your volume they do not show your total, which makes it a little hard to tell how much you are spending. The price issue particularly annoyed me since I was doing the work of waiter/bartender.
  • You have to wait in line to get the card and wait while the hostess sets up the account
  • You have to wait in line to close out the card if you haven’t pre-paid

Overall I think the place has a cool concept, a nice location, and a comfortable vibe. However the whole process of cards, taps, etc. could be executed a little better to have less wait time and hassle so the focus could be on the fun aspects like sampling the well-curated  beer selection.

Weekend Beer Update

Happy Thanksgiving! With the holiday and all it seems like formal weekend activities are curtailed, however virtually every craft brewery has Black thanksgiving-turkey-clipart-1 | Do Dive InFriday sales on merchandise & beer and/or special releases. Sounds like a great excuse to get a jump on Christmas shopping or take advantage of the sales to get something special for yourself! Many breweries have buy-one-get-one types of offers where if you purchase a gift card you get a special gift for yourself.

Friday 23: Tap into your Black Friday dark side with Westfax Brewing Company’s dark beer tap takeover. Combine that with their Cosmic Beer Party starting at 6 p.m. and you can decompress from all the shopping stress. The party features a DJ, black lights and glow sticks so make your best impression by wearing some glow-in-the-dark apparel.

Friday 23: In other dark-beer news, Hops & Pie will pour stouts from 14 local craft breweries at their Stout Fest beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Saturday 24: This weekend features but one anniversary: Evergreen Brewery’s 3rd. They’ll celebrate in their foothills taproom with special releases, screen printing, and pop-up shops.

Sunday 25: Still have Thanksgiving leftovers? Bring them down to Halfpenny Brewing Company to share! Halfpenny is hosting a Thanksgiving leftovers party to mix & match those tasty Thanksgiving dishes starting at 2 p.m. and coinciding with the Broncos game. See their website for all the details about serving, etc.