Vine Street Pub & Brewery is part of the Mountain Sun family of Front Range restaurants and breweries that strive to make fresh food and beer using as many local ingredients as possible and working to offer the local community a place to come together. Vine Street is the sole Denver outpost, located along busy 17th Street in the Uptown neighborhood and features both a kitchen and brewery.
BEER LINEUP: Vine Street offers a little bit of everything from traditional styles to high-gravity offerings. There’s nothing too wild and crazy but the two-dozen beers on the menu leave plenty of room for exploration.
ATMOSPHERE: Given its Boulder roots it comes as no surprise that Vine Street has a bit of hippy, mountain lodge feeling with lots of wood and funky art. The crowd seemed to be a mix of locals and people stopping by but everyone seemed to want to linger. For warmer days the two patios with outdoor bar games allow you to get some fresh air. The kitchen presents a menu of bar comfort food with lots of healthy options that can also fit most dietary restrictions.
SERVICE: At every Mountain Sun establishment I have visited the service has been excellent and Vine Street is no exception. The staff was friendly and considerate, bringing sharing plates without being asked, making suggestions, and reminding us that they have options for various diets. The servers seemed genuinely engaged in insuring that we had a wonderful experience. Note: All Mountain Sun locations only take cash.
NEIGHBORHOOD: The Vine Street location stands in an old storefront on the corner of 17th and Vine surrounded by many large, gracious old homes along with a number of multi-family buildings, giving it a true neighborhood-business feel. Between the residential area and the many other businesses lining 17th Street the area is truly walkable, which is probably good as it can be a minor hassle to find street parking.
STANDOUT BEER: Nitro Cleveland-Style Brown Ale. We visited on a cold, snowy day so a rich and creamy brown really hit the spot. The server wasn’t exactly able to explain the “Cleveland” appellation but perhaps it has something to do with the co-mingled spice flavors that were difficult to single out – cinnamon? nutmeg? Asian? – hard to pinpoint. Although it was thick and so dark as to be opaque, the malt clocked in at only a medium roast which allowed the spices to peek through.
January closes out strong with a couple of big festivals and some options for good eats on Sunday. Personally, I’m viewing this weekend as training time for Stout Month at Mountain Sun and their sister pubs in Denver and Boulder.
Friday 26th & Saturday 27th: Denver Winter Brew Fest comes to Mile High Station for two evenings and features over 40 breweries. Proceeds benefit Swallow Hill Music Association. Note: This is a ticketed event.
Saturday 27th: Get your dark on at River North Brewery’s SuperStout Party featuring big, dark beers on tap starting at noon.
Saturday 27th: Put on your Viking gear a head up to Golden for the UllrGrass Music and Beer Festival, where the name says it all – bluegrass & beer. The festival takes place at several indoor and outdoor venues in Golden and while Saturday is the “beer” part of the fest, activities and music will take place throughout the weekend. Note: This is a ticketed event.
Sunday 28th: Fire up the crockpot and the spices for Little Machine Beer’s Chili Cookoff from 12:30 to 4:00. Email the brewery to enter or just show up to taste and vote for the best chili in several categories. Winners get some pretty sweet beer prizes!
Sunday 28th: If you’re looking for fancier fare, Briar Common Brewery holds their seasonal Five Course Beer Pairing Dinner this evening. Note: This is a ticketed event.
Even though it’s 20 minutes from Denver, Golden City Brewery makes you feel a little like you’re in a small mountain town. Set in a neighborhood of old houses with a large patio and foothills views, Golden City offers a bit of an escape from hectic city life for a few hours. Of course, knocking back a few of their solid beers doesn’t hurt either!
BEER LINEUP: The menu features all the standards from golden to stout with everything in between, plus a few more adventurous beers like a sour and saison. All the beers I tried were enjoyable, though maybe not 100% true to style.
ATMOSPHERE: The overall atmosphere was really chill and given the proximity the the School of Mines there was a big college crowd. The indoor taproom is very tiny but fortunately when we were there it was nice enough to relax on the huge dog-friendly outdoor patio. The patio offers great views and also some gas fireplaces to take the chill off. If you are hungry, Golden City offers a very limited menu consisting of brats and chips.
SERVICE: Very friendly but not terribly efficient. Customers line up at a single counter to order so if someone is sampling or getting chatty it can take a while. One nice feature is the outdoor ordering window for those on the patio. Note: For a brewery Golden City closes rather early – 6:30 or 7:30 depending on the day.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Golden City resides just a few blocks away from Golden’s main business district in a sleepy residential neighborhood of Victorian homes. It makes for a great afternoon to combine a few beers with a stroll to do some shopping or grab a bite to eat. If you only have time to pop in for a quick one, though, the neighborhood also has plenty of free parking.
STANDOUT BEER: Lookout Stout. I really couldn’t ask for a better winter beer. The beer was so dark it was almost black and offered up strong rich malty flavors backed by some cocoa. Definitely something to cozy up with on a chilly day. The only (slight) disappointment was that for such a dark and intense beer the consistency was thinner than a typical stout.
It’s an anniversary-filled weekend with Caution, Cannonball Creek, and Castle Rock Beer Co. all celebrating. However with the upcoming cold and snow I’ve got my eye on Colorado Plus Brew Pub for some true winter warming!
Friday 19th – Saturday 20th: Head out to Lakewood for Caution Brewing Company’s 6th Anniversary Party showcasing their anniversary beer Hold The Door Baltic Porter along with the tapping of some secret experiments. And of course they’ll have the obligatory food trucks and live music.
Friday 19th – Sunday 21st: Stay toasty at Colorado Plus Brew Pub’s Big Barrel Aged Beer Festival, which pretty much says it all. They’ll be tapping a range of imperial porters & stouts for your drinking pleasure.
Saturday 20th – Sunday 21st: Head for the hills and celebrate Cannonball Creek Brewing Company’s 5th anniversary with special tappings, music, and food.
Saturday 20th: If south-metro is more your style, head down to Castle Rock for Castle Rock Beer Co.’s 2nd anniversary where you can buy a pint and keep the commemorative glass.
Saturday 20th: In the ongoing Pussy Riot beer series, Makin’ Noise Beer will hold events at five breweries for version 5.0 of the beer. Woods Boss Brewing Company, Ratio Beerworks, Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company, The Post Brewing Co., and Goldspot Brewing Company will all have tapping celebrations today, with proceeds benefiting a variety of non-profits.
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to revisit a couple of breweries that I have reviewed before – Brewability Lab and Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project – and both of them seem to have new and interesting things happening.
Brewability Lab keeps adding events and owner Tiffany works hard to make sure everyone is engaged and having fun in a friendly environment. Last weekend Brewability featured a band, a silent charity auction, and a fundraiser for Mindful Meditation – all at once. The place was packed. In short, there’s always something going on and the solid beers make it a great place to spend a chilly winter afternoon or evening. They’ve also started serving their Coffee Porter in Nutella-rimmed glasses for those with a sweet tooth.
Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project keeps serving up truly interesting world-inspired beers and each time I stop by there are several new and wild ones. Some of my favorites current favorites are:
- Chicha, which is a corn-based beer with sweetness reminiscent of the South American beverage of the same name
- Turkish Coffee Stout, which combines rich roasted malt and coffee flavors, pretty much as advertised in the name.
- BA Imperial Turkish Coffee Stout, a spiced-up and boozed-up version of the coffee stout. It adds pepper, mace and other spices to create an intense and savory effect. I found it slightly addictive but was also happy I followed the bartender’s recommendation and got a short pour.
Definitely give anything here a try before you jump into a pint because many of the beers have a strong flavor profile. The only disappointment was, like my first visit, a noticeable lack of patrons. Although the bartender injected some energy into the place, it felt a little dead so my recommendation would be to bring some friends with you when you go!
2018 has come roaring in with a weekend packed full of festivities that mixes up traditional events like anniversaries with some pretty unique morning events and a traditional Wassail Winter Carnival. If you have the time and a strong liver you can pretty much have a beer in your hand from Friday evening all the way through the Monday holiday.
Friday 12th: Oscar Blues Brewery kicks off the grand opening weekend of their Denver taproom at 1624 Market Street with food, drink, and music at their live music space next door. Celebrations continue on Saturday. Note: The live music is a ticketed event.
Saturday 13th: One of two anniversaries this weekend, Kokopelli Beer Company celebrates with limited-release beers and giveaways.
Saturday 13th: Get up early and start your day at the Beer, Bacon, and Coffee Fest at Denver Beer Co’s Arvada taproom. Note: This is a ticketed event and also doesn’t seem to specifically involve beer.
Saturday 13th: Cellar West Artisan Ales in Boulder celebrates their first anniversary with a bash that includes special tapping of their beers plus collaboration, along with BBQ to munch on.
Saturday 13th: If you’re looking for something a little unusual (though not exactly beer), C Squared Ciders hosts their Winter Carnival in The Rackhouse featuring a tapping of their winter wassail and numerous activities to frighten away evil spirits and summon good ones for the upcoming year. The evening will include Magicians, Jugglers, Tarot Card Readers and Live Music. The show keeps rolling on Sunday as well.
Sunday 14th: You can get a head start on today’s iteration of the Winter Carnival with Station 26 Brewing Co’s Bluegrass Brunch from 11:00-3:00 featuring live bluegrass, a brunch food truck, and of course beer!
Monday 15th: Call to Arms Brewing invades Euclid Hall for a Kick the Keg Tap Takeover starting at 11:30am if you have MLK day off and are looking for something to do. The menu features seven Call to Arms beers along with a special pairing menu from Euclid Hall’s kitchen. The person who gets the beer that kicks each of the kegs wins a prize!
Wednesday 17th: While not technically a weekend event, the Strange/Wit Meet & Greet at Strange Craft sounds pretty cool. From 4:30-6:30 interact with a panel of the owners & brewers of Strange and Wit that focuses on the topic of seasonal ingredients. Note: This is a ticketed event.
Buried deep in suburbia-land in a quiet strip mall at County Line and Colorado, Blue Spruce Brewing Company wouldn’t seem particularly promising on the surface, however the breadth and quality of their beer combined with their food menu provides a welcome surprise.
BEER LINEUP: Blue Spruce features a full range of traditional styles from cream ale to brown with all the steps in between. They also offer modestly different takes on the standards such as an apricot blonde and a vanilla porter. All the beers I tried were well-made and generally true to style. For non-beer-drinkers Blue Spruce carries a small selection of wine and hard liquor.
ATMOSPHERE: The taproom definitely draws from Highlands Ranch, with lots of families and a laid back atmosphere that winds down shockingly early in the evening. This brewery is clearly outside the hipster zone. The rustic communal bench seating, small bar, and heated patio provide a welcoming atmosphere to relax, eat, and of course drink. Blue Spruce also features a full kitchen with an extensive and tasty menu and occasionally bands.
SERVICE: Uneven. The bartender was great – engaging, informed, and efficient. The table service, not so much. We never went thirsty but we did watch our server aimlessly cruise around the dining area while we tried to flag him down, and most every interaction involved some kind of confusing interjection.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Definitely the ‘burbs. Blue Spruce sits at the far end of a retail strip mall surrounded by housing. It can be hard to see, as it’s located below Dry Creek’s street level but once you find it you’ll also find ample parking. There’s little else to do in the immediate area.
STANDOUT BEER: Serrano Sunrise Chili Beer. I’m a sucker for chili beers and this one stands out above most. With medium heat and a slight roasted-pepper taste laid over what appeared to be a copper-colored Vienna Lager, the Serrano Sunrise made for a pleasant and complex beer with just the right amount balance of heat and flavor. Though not particularly hot, it must have offended many Highlands Ranchers, as the servers are comically obsessed with making you try a sample before you order if you say you’ve not had it previously.