Recently some friends and I spent a chilly afternoon touring four RINO breweries on foot. Given the number of breweries practically side-by-side in RINO one could literally run them end-to-end, GABF style without any breaks. However in the spirit of getting a little exercise and not getting outstandingly hammered we threw in a few that required a walk.
We met at Epic Brewing Company, which usually offers decent parking if you choose to drive. The taproom sports the standard RINO-brewery decor – concrete & steel, lots of glass & garage doors, and an open brewing area. It also has the bonus of a cozy fireplace and a bunch of tvs with various games on. The beers lean toward barrel-aged and/or high-alcohol but there’s enough variety that anyone ought to be able to find something pleasing. Our group tasted some great IPA’s, an unusual lime lager, porters, fruit beers, and a barleywine. The Sage Saison stood out, seeming appropriately seasonal with light earthy flavors and strong sage, as did the Pumpkin Porter, with rich malty flavors and undertones of pumpkin spice.
A few Epic beers fortified us for the 20+ minute walk to the Great Divide Brewing Company Barrel Room on Brighton Blvd. Heading left from Epic you’ll walk down to 38th and go left, either up and over the tracks at the light rail station or under them on 38th itself. It’s definitely a developing area but seems more deserted than sketchy. The Barrel Room has a ski-bar vibe going, which would be cozy on a cold winter day. Even nicer are the warming high-alcohol barrel-aged beers. Great Divide seems to try different combinations and rotate frequently so it’s best to check out the chalkboard and chat with the bartender for the latest and greatest. Of course they also serve the traditional Great Divide offerings – Collette, Yeti, Claymore Scottish, etc. One caution is that their small space gets jammed if a bus or large group comes, which happened to us.
Fortunately there’s an easy solution: Mockery Brewing is just across the street! Walking down the side street for one block will bring you to Mockery. Mockery also has a small taproom but never seems as crazy, perhaps because they have a shed out back that serves as a game room (and keeps the kids occupied). In the summer an expansive patio offers more seating. Mockery favors more adventurous beers and our visit was no exception. I tried the Cinnamon Baltic Porter, which had a little sour, a little malt, and a whole lotta cinnamon. Best to get a taste first because the cinnamon can be overwhelming and not everyone can make it to the end of a full pour. After the intense cinnamon I decided to calm down with the Ultimate Session Beer which has very light malt flavors, lower alcohol of course, and proved an overall a pleasant, easy drinking beer.
Finally, as dusk settled, we headed back across the tracks to Ratio Beerworks. Previously I considered them good but not particularly exciting, however it seems like they’ve started adding more adventurous beers to their repertoire. I began with the Young Pilgrims Raspberry Dubbel, which came across as a typical farmyard saison with mild raspberry. Saison-lovers will probably like it, but fruit beer lovers may want to sample first. Next up was the off-menu Christmas Spice, which is how I’d imagine drinking potpourri tastes.It had a strong dry-orange flavor along with some nutmeg and other spices and a hint of chocolate. Something at the end dried out the mouth, leaving an aftertaste like dry straw. This is probably one to try in a small pour for the sport of it, but not a full pour.
The walk from Ratio back to Epic is only a couple of blocks. Overall this walk provides a great cross-section of breweries and some good exercise. The area is very accessible by car, taxi, or light rail (A-line stops at 38th) and with the abundance of breweries one can vary the route or even add some more.