West Colfax has long sat in the shadow of popular East Colfax, but several breweries including Seedstock Brewery now provide some entertainment options along that stretch. Located at Colfax and Lowell, Seedstock focuses on German and Czech styles served in a comfortable taproom or on their patio.
BEER LINEUP: The menu definitely leans toward Czech and German beer styles, but also offers other options including at least one IPA for the hopheads. Seedstock brews a good balance of traditional styles, lesser-known old-world styles, and experimental twists on tradition such as Vanilla Espresso Stout.
ATMOSPHERE: We happened to visit during a boil so the air was thick with tempting malty smells. Aside from that, Seedstock felt chill and the taproom looks like your typical brewery with sturdy seating which opens to the production facility. The good-sized patio feels relatively insulated from Colfax and offers sun during the day and a firepit for chilly evenings.
SERVICE: The service was very relaxed. Despite a rather large crowd the single bartender took everything in stride and provided friendly and efficient service. It seemed like bar service only.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Gritty section of W. Colfax. Seedstock straddles the neighborhood between N. Federal and Casa Bonita so you can observe all kind of randomness . . . or not, depending on the hour and day. For most people this will be a drive-to brewery, which fortunately sits close to major thoroughfares like I25 and features at least some parking.
STANDOUT BEER:Lichtenhainer – This smokey/sour German style was supposedly popular over 100 years ago. While I wouldn’t rate this my favorite beer by any stretch, it stands out as a very unique beer and a pleasant offering for some tastes. The light-bodied beer contains medium sourness and a smoky (think smoked cheddar) flavor. I say contains vs. combines because the two flavors seem to fight it out in your mouth; one minute sour, the next smoky. It makes for interesting drinking and should you decide on more than one, the 3.8% ABV won’t sneak up on you. Even if it doesn’t sound like your thing, you ought to try a sample.
This RINO brewery is the Colorado outpost of Utah-based Epic Brewing Company. The location in brewery-dense RINO makes Epic a great stop on a brewery crawl or a destination in its own right. The ultra-modern taproom seems to be hit or miss as far as crowds, but the beer is always solid and plentiful. You could easily order off the expansive menu all afternoon without doubling up, as the list covers virtually every style plus multiple variants of the same base beer. Street parking is usually easy but if you’re pub crawling or intent on running the Epic menu, consider Uber or public transit!
BEER LINEUP: Epic covers the spectrum and then some with their generous menu of over 20 beers. In addition to the expected, Epic does experimental beers, barrel-aged, sours, fruit beers, and more. Nobody should come away disappointed.
ATMOSPHERE: Epic has a relaxed vibe with a diverse crowd of hipsters, couples, older people, and others. The only un-represented group was families – not surprising given the RINO location. It definitely seemed like a place people stopped by for one, with quick turnover. The modern industrial taproom opens to the brewery on one side and a small patio on another. Some days they have food trucks.
SERVICE: Generally good, though we were there on a slow night. When it gets busier there tend to be traffic jams at the bar
NEIGHBORHOOD: Rino – need I say more? Epic is located far enough out to have ample street parking (for now).
STANDOUT BEER: The Santa Cruz Brown IPA stands out for its balance. The medium reddish-brown color and medium body serve up a good shot of hop bitterness with a bit of floral essence that is brought back to center by the solid malty foundation. All of the flavors intertwine to produce a complex and enjoyable beer.
With its quirky space-based theme, Launchpad Brewery offers a chill and comfortable vibe with a diverse beer selection including a good representation of higher-gravity Belgians. Many folks would consider the far-east Aurora location a downside, but for those living in that brewery-deprived area Launchpad must be a blessing. Regardless of your starting point, it’s worth the drive to give Launchpad a try.
BEER LINEUP: Launchpad offers a diverse array of beers, many of which are experimental versions of traditional styles. In general I’ve found them well-executed, and not too “out-there” but I think it pays to sample before you buy. Though well made, beers don’t always taste the way you’d imagine from the descriptions.
ATMOSPHERE: The space-themed taproom displays model rockets, tvs showing launch video, space-themed beer names, and other launch memorabilia. The crowd seemed friendly and mixed – professionals, families, old, young, etc. – as well as more regulars than visitors. The taproom is rather small and fairly standard with rows of stout tables and chairs. It expands a little during warm weather when the small patio opens. Also, look out back for a food truck. We were hungry and puzzled at first but quickly figured out you have to walk through the production facility to get food. The bar is also dog friendly.
SERVICE: Efficient. Despite the busy evening and crowded bar, the bartenders kept everything moving quickly in a friendly manner.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Buried in a strip mall far out in Aurora, there’s little charm here so unless you are in the neighborhood you’ll need to make this a destination bar. On the positive side, suburbia offers plenty of parking.
STANDOUT BEER:Key Lime Saison. This light and slightly cloudy beer offered a well-balanced combination between sweet, lightly-acidic key lime and farmhouse flavors. The flavors blended well without any unpleasant takeover by one or the other
In addition to hundreds of great breweries, the Denver area is also home to a number of taphouses including Congress Park Taphouse at 8th and Colorado. The taphouse serves an under-breweried part of town with a menu of beers from the Front Range, plus a few other Colorado and out-of-state brewers. Many of the beers aren’t particularly unique – standard brews from Colorado Beer Company, O’Dells, Left Hand, etc. but there’s also a fair collection of beers from smaller breweries like Resolute and Diebolt. The taproom serves wine as well.
The utilitarian space has bar seating, hightops, and regular tables, plus darts and a collection of board games. It also offers numerous tv’s and a popcorn machine. Additionally, a small front patio faces Colorado Boulevard and the CU Medical Campus pile of rubble. The taproom is part of a group of small neighborhood business that include several food places if you want to eat more than popcorn while you drink.
The servers were generally friendly and have a great knowledge of the beers they serve. On a couple of occasions they recommended tasting certain unusual beers before ordering a full pint to insure that we would enjoy the full experience.
Overall I don’t think that this qualifies as a destination-bar, but for those who live in or visit the neighborhood it offers a convenient place to sample a variety of craft beers.
Located near East Colfax and Quebec, you could easily overlook Fiction Beer Company as you drive to a show or the bar and restaurant-heavy portion of Colfax near downtown. However you’d miss out on some interesting beers and a decent place to chill for a bit. With its accessible location, Fiction is relatively easy in & out for a quick visit and the taproom feels comfortable and relaxed. Fiction gets a little more experimental than many other breweries so be prepared for some unusual ingredient combinations and/or production processes. If that’s not your thing, you’ll still find a few style-specific offerings for a familiar experience.
BEER LINEUP: In keeping with the Fiction theme, all the beers have literary references in their names but Fiction also helpfully provides style descriptions for us non-English majors. Fiction’s menu goes all over the board with multiple focuses including lighter beers, Pale Ales, and various high-gravity offerings. The one hole (at least on this visit) came in the area of medium and dark beers which had minimal representation.
ATMOSPHERE:Keeping up the theme, a huge and well-stocked bookcase stands as the centerpiece in the otherwise sleek and modern industrial-looking taproom. Additionally, Fiction supplies a few comfy couches and a large patio for your reading pleasure in all seasons. Finally, they typically have food trucks, which is helpful since the neighborhood seems thin on restaurants. Overall, Fiction creates a comfortable space to quietly hang out or drink it up with friends.
SERVICE:The bartender gets an “A” for effort because he was hustling, but the brewery was woefully understaffed with only him for the 60 people in the entire, packed taproom. Perhaps they got unexpectedly slammed or someone called in but it took a long time to get a beer or pay tab with lines of 8-10 people at times.
NEIGHBORHOOD:An interesting contrast of faded East Colfax on the front with neat residential houses on the side street. While it’s one of the nicer areas of East Colfax, I wouldn’t exactly call it walkable as there’s little else of interest. However that also makes it easy to find street parking or one of the handful of spots behind the brewery.
STANDOUT BEER:While I tried several great beers on this visit, I still fall back on Logic Is Relative, the New England IPA that I reviewed a couple months ago.
The recent springtime weather motivated me to take a short brewery ride and warm up for summer riding and patios. This 5.5 mile loop goes from Seedstock Brewing Company to Prost Brewing to Strange Craft and finally back to Seedstock but you could start at any of them and make the loop, and realistically a different sequence would let you put the uphill to Seedstock somewhere other than the end. All of the breweries are easily accessed from the Platte River Trail and there are also a number of light rail stops in the area for those who prefer not to drive.
Seedstock, on Colfax at Lowell, features a German- and Czech-heavy taplist. Expect to see Pilsners, Dunkels, and Bohemian beers along with a sprinkling of other beer styles for variety (including an IPA). Despite the randomness of the surrounding neighborhood the brewery feels very chill and has a good-sized patio that is nicely sheltered from Colfax. Aside from the beers, I didn’t find anything exceptional about Seedstock – just a good, solid place to kick back with a brew.
Tucked away in a strip mall in the far Southeast corner of Denver near Iliff & Quebec, Comrade Brewing Co specializes in IPAs and all things hoppy. The atmosphere is pretty basic and the location is a bit far out but if you either live in Southeast Denver or love IPAs it’s worth checking out, particularly on a nice day when they open the garage doors.
BEER LINEUP: IPAs and more IPAs. Comrade has always specialized in this style and features numerous varieties. While they typically throw a few bones to the non-hophead crowd, IPAs are where they stand tall.
ATMOSPHERE: Somewhat uninviting. The former auto-body space is wrapped in concrete and rather dark with little in the way of decoration and charm, although the garage doors add some appeal on warm days. Comrade almost always has a food truck – usually a really good one too.
SERVICE: Excellent. Most of the staff has been there a long time and they really seem to want you to want their beer. Everyone is friendly and eager to share knowledge and samples. One unusual twist, Comrade doesn’t really do table service so you go to their service counter to get your beer. The counter has no seating or incentive to congregate so people get their beer and go and it works really well to keep the beer flowing fast.
NEIGHBORHOOD:Not much to speak of. Comrade lives between some auto-body shops in a strip mall complex surrounded by other strip malls and located in a suburban apartments-and-condos area of southeast Denver. Parking is generally ample and if you’re a biker it’s about two minutes off the Cherry Creek trail at Iliff.
STANDOUT BEER: I’m going to punt on this one and say any of the IPAs. Comrade runs the table in this category from traditional to New England IPAs all the way out to Double IPAs. They all tilt toward the heavily-floral side so if that’s your thing you’ll feel the love at Comrade.