Brewery Snapshot: Bootstrap Brewing Company

Located in sleepy Niwot, Bootstrap Brewing Company embraces the friendly and slow-paced small-town feel. With a fittingly rustic taproom and a large patio with a grass game area this  brewery seems designed for families and locals stopping in for a pint and friendly chat.  The taplist is sufficiently broad to offer at least one option for any beer drinker and the bartender wasn’t shy about playing mix & match to create even more tasty concoctions.

BEER LINEUP: Bootstrap serves up a moderate number and variety of beers, consisting solely of light-to-medium beers. All the beers I sampled were good, but dark beer lovers be warned that the darkest on the menu was a red. The menu contained mostly traditional styles with a few experimentals like pineapple and chili. In all fairness I believe they rotate in a couple of darker styles seasonally.20180729_144122_HDR

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom echoed the feeling of the small town of Niwot, with friendly regulars hanging out and chatting with each other, the bartender, and newcomers like us to create a truly welcoming feel. The wood and metal taproom can get cramped during busy times but creates a cozy feel even when not full. Additionally, Bootstrap has a large patio for games and families.

20180729_144234_HDRSERVICE: The bartender was super-friendly and helpful in making beer recommendations and suggestions including a special combination of two beers (see below).

NEIGHBORHOOD: You definitely feel small-town Colorado in Niwot and the relaxed pace encompasses both the old-fashioned downtown and the brewery. Everything is nearby so you can easily stroll around and grab food or do some shopping combined with a Bootstrap visit. Needless to say, parking is plentiful and free.

STANDOUT BEER: Per the bartender’s suggestion, I tried a half & 20180729_144945_HDRhalf of Backfire Chili and Chillax Pineapple Gold. Both beers were awesome in their own right, with the Backfire bringing on intense heat and Chillax serving up light pineapple sweetness blended perfectly into the base beer without off-flavors or weirdness that I’ve found with most pineapple beers. Together they make something truly amazing. Each sip starts sweet and gives almost the full pineapple flavor and then after a few seconds the pepper catches up for a spicy finish without being as intense as straight Backfire. It may be the best beer mix I’ve ever had.

 

Weekend Beer Update

I’m going a little light this week, partly because I’m simply feelingCrate Brewery Beer -Brick Lane London lazy and partly because it’s Labor Day – there’s already plenty to do!

Monday 3: The Rocky Mountain Beer Fest Tour, second stop, comes to Boulder. The first stop was Louisville earlier in the summer and now it’s Boulders turn for beer sampling from over 20 breweries, music, and lawn games. Notes: This is a ticketed event. This coincides with the Boulder Creek Hometown Festival.

Colfax to Santa Fe Ride

This short ride starts off at Seedstock on West Colfax Avenue, then meanders through the Platte River Valley before ending up at a couple breweries in the Santa Fe Arts District with a stop at StrangeCraft on the way back.

Our starting point, Seedstock Brewery, sits on an interesting section of West Colfax Avenue with a wide variety of businesses and a diverse crowd. The brewery itself offers plenty of bike parking and large patio on which to enjoy their malty, Bohemian-style beers. They also offer a cozy taproom that opens to the brewery, and generally have a couple of other styles for different tastes than Bohemian. The real highlight on every visit has been the service; fast, friendly and engaging.

Leaving Seedstock, we headed south and west through the neighborhoods to 13th Street and Knox Court to pick up the Lakewood Gulch Trail in Paco Sanchez Park. From there we rode to the Platte River Trail, took a right and then a quick left on 13th Street. After passing under I-25 and crossing over several sets of railroad tracks we turned right on Mariposa Street and headed to 9th, then cut up the back alley to Intrepid Sojourner. There are other, shorter routes on the west side of the highway that involve more street riding, and with the grid street system east of I-25 there are countless alternative routes once you turn off of 13th so you can truly mix & match.

Intrepid Sojourner SignAs usual, Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project offered up a selection of familiar beer styles, rare foreign recipes, and beers with unique and savory ingredients. Drinking at Intrepid Sojourner is always an adventure. The international-themed taproom stocks travel literature and artifacts from around the world, and on the day we visited had a pop-up craft fair in the small parking lot. The brewery has plenty of seating in the taproom along with a small patio. The only knock is that the service was very hit-or-miss. Continue reading “Colfax to Santa Fe Ride”

Brewery Snapshot: Finkel & Garf Craft Beer

In addition to an unusual name crafted out of the last name of the father & son owners, Finkel & Garf Craft Beer also stands out with their attractively-designed taproom and outdoor space that offer plenty of reasons to stick around for just one more pour. Located just a few minutes from downtown Boulder they seem to attract an energetic crowd with a reasonably-diverse set of beers.

BEER LINEUP: The taplist should offer something to satisfy about every palate, from a light Cream Ale to a dark Stout with some hop-heavy options along with various seasonal beers. Finkel & Garf does not appear to focus on any specific 20180729_163326_hdr.jpgstyle.

ATMOSPHERE: Finkel & Garf has created one of the more unique taprooms I’ve visited. All of the decorations and displays seem heavily curated and the industrial-style taproom really pops when you walk in. Combine that with numerous outdoor games on the large fake-grassy patio, active indoor games and traditional board games and the taproom draws young professionals and families that make for an active and fun atmosphere. They sell snacks and food trucks seem to be a fixture as well.

SERVICE: The lone employee working the taproom seemed rather indifferent to the task of serving customers, sometimes focusing on the patrons and other times on her tablet. While functional, the service certainly did not stand out.

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NEIGHBORHOOD: The taproom sits where industrial parks and strip malls give way to residential neighborhoods so it’s relatively quiet and easy to access, with great parking. While there are eateries in the general vicinity, walkability will depend on your level of ambition and sobriety. On a side note both Asher and Avery are just a few minutes away.

STANDOUT BEER: Rye Saison. This beer captured all the spicy and bready goodness of the saison style and accentuated it with even more spice complexity and subtle hints of rye. The dark color and noticeable maltiness were a bit unexpected but neither detracted from the overall enjoyment of the medium-bodied beer. As an honorable mention the barrel-aged Bourbon Stout served up a smooth and syrupy experience where the bourbon blended seamlessly with the dark stout flavors. The balance was great and despite the high ABV there were no overpowering hot-alcohol or liquor flavors.

Weekend Beer Update

It’s a smaller list of ideas this weekend, but I figure in a town like Denver there are plenty of opportunities to make your own fun at your local brewery or try something new! Check out the Brewery Guide page for some ideas.

Friday 24 – Saturday 25: Glendale host Bruises and Brews at Infinity Park featuring about 20 breweries each day along with a few ciders and liquor. The fest dates coincide with Rugbytown 7’s matches but the site makes it tough to tell whether games will take place during the fest or not. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Friday 24: Mark Halfpenny Brewing Company’s 20170315_185333_HDRhalf-anniversary with beer releases, bands, food and giveaways. They’re rounding the corner to a full three years in February!

Saturday 25: The fourth annual Colorado Plus Brewfest BBQ Bash brings tastings from around 20 breweries plus live music and lots of pork-based goodness. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 25: Get your crowler on at the Big Can Jam in Littleton. Over 15 breweries will crowler-up their beers for your drinking pleasure, including some rare and unusual offerings. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 25: Enjoy an evening outdoors at the Castle Rock Brewfest Under the Stars, serving up pours from a number of Colorado breweries along with light food and music  from 4 to 10 p.m. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Brewery Snapshot: Renegade Brewing Company

As the oldest of the four breweries in the busy Santa Fe Arts District, Renegade Brewing Company helped set the standard for the Denver taproom experience with an industrial space that opens to brewing operations, a small patio out front and frequent food trucks. This history, plus the longstanding taplist of flagship beers and steady neighborhood crowd gives Renegade the feel of a comfortable, established neighborhood business.

BEER LINEUP: Renegade has always featured a modest, hop-heavy menu and even styles that are not normally hop-focused usually end up with a noticeable hop presence. Not to knock any of the beers, just know what you’re getting yourself into whether you’re a hophead, malt-head, or otherwise.

ATMOSPHERE: The small, basic industrial taproom opens to an equally-sized patio via garage doors. The space has a lot of energy with a younger crowd, people constantly coming and going, and the activity of the surrounding area.  Renegade certainly feels like a neighborhood spot where many customers knew each other or stop in for a pint while walking the dog. Note: It can occasionally get crowded, particularly at Happy Hour. Renegade almost always has a food truck.

SERVICE: On the most recent visit our server was attentive and friendly, although on previous visits service has sometimes been less efficient. Bar service only.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The active Santa Fe Arts District area offers plenty of opportunities for strolling and shopping, eating, drinking, or taking in some cultural sights. It seems perpetually lively and offers relatively easy access from downtown and other parts of the city via highways and thoroughfares. Renegade has no parking but street parking 20180804_160644_HDRis usually available if you don’t mind a short walk, and light rail is walkable as well. The neighborhood includes three other craft breweries within just a few blocks so it’s a great area for a brewery crawl!

STANDOUT BEER: Who Runs This Mother. This Belgian tripel with plums delivers a thinner-than-normal body but an unbelievably complex flavor mix. Sitting on a traditional slightly bready/malty base, numerous flavors layer on top including plum, raisin, tea, and even something slightly floral (lavender, perhaps). At 8.6% it’s definitely a great sipper with which to end the evening.

 

 

Weekend Beer Update

Friday 17- Saturday 18: Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co. turns the calendar into their fourth year with an outdoor festival featuring beer, games, music and (to quote the brewery) “general mayhem”.

Saturday 18: Find all your favorite Lakewood breweriesWestfax in one place as Westfax Brewing Company hosts the Lakewood Brewery Collective Block Party with five Lakewood breweries and plenty of beer, music, and giveaways all day.

Saturday 18: Check out the Shop the Dock Summer Market at Dry Dock Brewing Co. South Dock. Dry Dock serves up food, drink, and gift shopping along with their annual food drive; bring two cans and get entered into drawings for some great prizes!

Kokopelli BeerSaturday 18: Enjoy a Grease-themed Saturday at Kokopelli Beer Company with a special beer release, burgers and cornhole and all capped off with an outdoor evening screening of Grease.

Saturday 18: Parker brings back the Parker Brewfest with beer sampling from over 30 breweries, food, games, and music in downtown Parker. Note: This is a ticketed event

Sunday 19: Zwei ist Vier – or in English, Two is Four, Zwei Brewing Co. in Fort Collins turns four and closes their parking lot to host bands, food, and of course lots of beer.

Brewery Snapshot: Gunbarrel Brewing Company

Driving through the farms and fields on the approach to Gunbarrel Brewing Company it seems impossible that you will find anything remotely resembling a brewery, but if you look carefully for an industrial park on the west side of 71st Avenue you’ll get your reward. The day we visited, the cavernous taproom felt very empty and low-energy but the patio was pleasant-enough and the extensive beer list of all styles, combined with great service, encouraged us to linger for just one more.

BEER LINEUP: For a small brewery, Gunbarrel delivers a huge taplist of about 20 beers that cover the spectrum from wheat to stout with a lot of pleasant surprises in between including a saison, several fruit beers, a gose, some IPAs. They also offer several barrel-aged options.20180729_135304_hdr.jpg

ATMOSPHERE: We visited mid-day on a Sunday, which arguably is not the busiest time for any brewery, so we were the only patrons for a while. As such, it’s hard to guess at the normal energy of the place, but for us the huge building was very quiet. The large industrial-looking front room gives way to a gameroom on the back with pinball and pool, and there’s a huge bar for easy access during busy periods. Additionally, they offer a shady patio and seem to have regular food trucks. Naturally everything seemed very laid-back on our visit.

SERVICE: Despite the emptiness of the place, Gunbarrel had several servers working, which probably contributed to the excellent service we received. They were attentive, 20180729_142040_HDRfriendly, and knowledgeable about their beers.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Really none to speak of. Situated in an industrial park surrounded by farms, Gunbarrel appears to be the only retail-oriented business for miles and thus is definitely a destination. The remote location comes with the 20180729_135800_HDRbenefit of ample parking, and the LOBO trail lies about 1/4 mile to the south and offers bikers convenient access.

STANDOUT BEER: Memberberry is a New England IPA heavily infused with berries. The cloudy, reddish-copper color provides a tipoff that this is more than your normal NEIPA, and the berry sweetness provides an interesting contrast to the hoppiness. Raspberry and blueberry predominate. Overall, the light body and fruitiness make for a refreshing summer sip.

Weekend Beer Update

There are a lot of events this Saturday from one end of town to the other, and particularly downtown in between. Given the beautiful summer weather there’s no excuse not to get out and about and explore a new part of town!

Saturday 11: Starting in RINO, Bierstadt Lager celebrates two years of making fine German beers. They’ll have some music, yard games, and Helles specials, but really it’s about – as they explain – “drinking large quantities of pale lager.” And who can argue with that?

woods-boss-beers.jpgSaturday 11: In the same neighborhood, Ratio Beerworks throws down an all-you-can-eat-and-drink Crawfish Boil starting at noon. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 11: At the other end of downtown Wood Boss Brewing Company will partner with other local businesses to transform California Street into a biergarten with music and special beer tappings all day.

Saturday 11: The final downtown event of the day is Denver Beer Co.’s 7th anniversary party, which will also spill into the street with food, music, games, a photo booth and beer. Note, the party happens at the original Platte Street location.

Saturday 11: The Arvada Center hosts Arts and Ales 2018, featuring local artists exhibiting their wares, beer sampling, food, music, and activities. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Saturday 11: On the opposite side of town in Lowry, Wings Over The Rockies puts on Hops in the Hangar which features beer tasting, a car show, music, games and giveaways all while surrounded by classic aircraft. Note: This is a ticketed event.station-26-taproom.jpg

Sunday 12: The monthly Bluegrass Brunch comes back to Station 26 Brewing Co. with food, music, and of course beer! The fun starts at 11 a.m.

Brewery Snapshot: Tivoli Brewing Company

Located in the CU Denver student union across from the Pepsi Center, Tivoli Brewing Company has a lot going for it with an innovative taproom design, a patio with spectacular views, wonderful service and a German-inspired taplist. The only downside is that it seems kind of stranded, bordered by major streets and highways, far from other entertainment venues and lacking any sort of energy once students go home for the day.

BEER LINEUP: The German-themed beers cover a broad range from traditional German styles to other styles that the brewery has given a German flair with specific hops, yeast, or additives.

ATMOSPHERE: The steampunk-style industrial taproom located in the former Tivoli Brewery features a unique seating area spread on several levels among brewing 20180719_200319_HDRequipment, exposed pipes, and other industrial artifacts. However the real star of the show is the patio, which faces the downtown Denver skyline and offers beautiful views, particularly at sunset. On a weeknight the vibe quickly drops off from busy student/staff happy hour time to a virtually deserted taproom with an empty and slightly sad feel after 7 p.m. I would expect that nights of Pepsi Center events present a totally different feel as well. Fortunately Tivoli has a full kitchen so you do not have to forage across campus for food.

SERVICE: Even though we were seated at the far end of the patio, our servers showed up frequently and delivered our food and drink orders very quickly. The servers for both our table and the bar were exceptionally friendly and helpful with beer and food information and recommendations.

LOCATION: Tivoli seems stranded in the middle of the campus and heavily trafficked roadways. It’s really not very walkable to anywhere else unless you happen to be going to a Pepsi Center event. You can access it via light rail and a short walk from either of the Pepsi Center or Colfax at Auraria stops, or pay for parking in the nearby garage or at meters. Realistically, unless you happen to be a student on campus this is a destination brewery.

STANDOUT BEER: Sigis Wildhorse Bock Style Ale. This is 20180719_192320_HDRone of the German-inspired beers and not 100% true to style but still very tasty. The thick-bodied, opaque, reddish/copper beer offered up heavy roasted malt with no noticeable hop flavors. While it is a little darker, heavier, and maltier than I’ve ever tasted in a German beer, it managed to pull through the yeast flavors, carmel sweetness and alcohol of a typical bock. While perhaps this beer would be most enjoyable on a chilly fall evening, it also works reasonably well as summer sipper given the moderate ABV.