Brewery Snapshot: Twisted Pine Brewing Co.

As one of the older breweries in the metro area at almost 25, Twisted Pine Brewing Co. brings a wealth of award-winning experience to their large tap list. The comfortable and relaxed taproom also serves up great food in addition to their wide variety of tasty beers.

BEER LINEUP: Twisted Pine’s extensive tap list covers the spectrum from light to dark standards and then mixes things up with fruit beers, barrel-aged offerings, various hop additions, and of course their famous chili beers. The taproom wall displays the numerous major awards they have collected over the years and that pedigree comes through clearly in the beers.20181214_130804_HDR.jpg

ATMOSPHERE: As one might expect from the name, the large taproom has lots of wood and a ski lodge feel. On weekends it gets a little more hectic but on weekdays it has a great kick-back-and-chill feel. In the warmer months the front patio adds extra hang-out space. Unlike many Denver-area breweries Twisted Pine has a full kitchen and everyone in our party thoroughly enjoyed their food.

SERVICE: Predictably for Boulder, the service is very relaxed in a sort of stoned snowboarder sort of way. It might take an occasional reminder to get someone to 20181214_122312_HDRbring your beer, but the friendliness and warmth of the servers somehow makes that easy to overlook.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The immediate area around Twisted Pine has the characteristics of many brewery neighborhoods – industrial parks and little else except great parking. However a couple blocks west you’ll find various big-box stores and restaurants. In sum, I wouldn’t call it much of a walkable area and I’d classify Twisted Pine as primarily a destination brewery.

STANDOUT BEER(S): Though not for everyone, Billy’s Chilies and it’s hotter companion Ghost Face Killah rock my world. Both beers start with the same light-colored, light-bodied wheat base and Billy’s adds five different peppers for a medium level of heat that allows you to taste the complexity that each pepper brings to the beer. Ghost Face gets the addition of one more – the ghost pepper – which gives it a blazing level of heat that somewhat obscures the subtlety of the other peppers but will warm you up and get you sweating just a bit even on a cold winter day. Handle with care!

Weekend Beer Update

It seems like most breweries are taking a break this weekend after all the Christmas activities and perhaps to store up their energy – and beer – for New Year’s Eve. With only a few events going on, it might be the time to cash in those beer gift cards, grab a growler from your local brewery and enjoy a quiet day in.


Saturday 29: Barrel-Aged Tap Takeover at Renegade Brewing! Live music and food will accompany six beers pulled directly from cellar to tap.20181219_221554_HDR.jpg

Saturday 29: Boulder’s VisionQuest celebrates three years with one-off beers, music, and food.

Sunday 30: Seedstock Brewery continues their musical Sunday tradition with their Bluegrass Jam from 4-6 p.m. Audience participation is encouraged so bring your instrument and join in.

Brewery Snapshot: Upslope Brewing Company

While I’ve had several of Upslope Brewing Company’s widely-distributed brews, heading up to their Flatiron Park taproom in Boulder offered a whole new perspective. The smallish space in an industrial park serves up a much more expansive and creative menu of beers than I would ever have expected based on what’s available in bars and liquor stores.

20181214_132257_HDR.jpgBEER LINEUP: As a well-established brewery, Upslope’s tap list covers all bases: light, hoppy, malty, sour, special & seasonal, etc. Based on my limited experience just with what’ scanned and kegged I was blown away by the variety, creativity, and range of the the tap list. Upslope definitely has something for everyone.

ATMOSPHERE: On a Friday afternoon the taproom had a relaxed atmosphere of people playing hooky from work or just chilling out before weekend fun. The smallish taproom fits the bill for brewery design: steel, concrete, wood, a view of the brewing operations. They also have a patio for warm-weather fun, and both the patio and taproom have great foothills views. Although Upslope doesn’t serve food, they frequently host food trucks.

SERVICE: The bar-only service was efficient and the servers seemed relatively knowledgeable about the beers. 20181214_132737_HDR.jpg

NEIGHBORHOOD: The Flatiron Park location resides in standard brewery territory – namely an industrial park that requires a bit of a drive. There’s little else in the neighborhood as a draw, but if you go you’ll find ample parking20181214_142309_HDR.jpg. Alternately, it’s right off the Boulder Creek Trail for bikers.

STANDOUT BEER: The 2017 Christmas Ale comes on with dark color and a thick body as one would expect, and the subtle spice with significant malt character makes for a satisfying holiday experience.

Brewery Snapshot: Black Shirt Brewing Co.

Black Shirt Brewing Co. has traditionally been known for two things: music and red ales. The music-themed taproom and backyard performance space have hosted dozens of music events, and their unique red base forms the foundation of all their beers, even styles not traditionally associated with being red. Located in RINO, Black Shirt makes a convenient stop on a pub crawl or when venturing in or out of the area, although it is slowly being dwarfed by the massive developments marching through the area.

BEER LINEUP: As mentioned above, all the beers use the same red base which makes for some interesting combinations – red saison anyone? While this would seem limiting, Black Shirt’s in-house beers cover a wide spectrum from a light Kolsch through a saison and some IPAs all the way to a porter. Because everything uses the same red base, all of Black Shirt’s beers have a certain hoppy/grassy flavor in varying levels which can be  a love/hate thing depending on how you feel about that flavor profile. If it’s not your thing, they also serve rotating guest beers.


ATMOSPHERE: The taproom has great energy generated by the constant turnover of people stopping in for food and a couple beers on the way to or from other activities. The rather small, industrial-looking space is augmented by a recent expansion into the brewing area along with a small front patio and a large backyard with performance space for warm-weather concerts. Billing themselves as a music-centric brewery, Black Shirt hosts frequent shows and has decorated the taproom with music art and artifacts, plus a big-screen playing concert videos. Black Shirt also has a full kitchen that’s open relatively late (11 p.m. weekends).


SERVICE: The service was very quick, efficient and friendly, and the servers offered helpful information and recommendations on the food and beers. Given the relatively small space it almost seemed like they were overstaffed, which is a true rarity in my brewery experiences.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Tucked into the far edge of RINO near 38th & Walnut, Black Shirt seems to have caught the beginning of the redevelopment trend. The area has grown around the brewery and now hosts perpetual construction of large office buildings and apartments while various art galleries, restaurants, and entertainment venues pop up in many of the remaining old buildings. There’s enough to do in the area that Black Shirt can be part of an afternoon or evening stroll or pub crawl, or a quick stop20181207_211322_hdr.jpg on the way to or from some entertainment. Although quickly dwindling with the rampant construction, street parking is usually possible within a few blocks and the 38th & Blake A-Line rail stop behind the bar makes public transit a realistic option. Bike lanes also run on nearby streets.

STANDOUT BEER: Common Red Kolsch. The red base adds a bit of complexity and bite to the simplicity and crispness found in a standard kolsch, along with a bit more body and of course the red color.

Weekend Beer Update

In the run-up to Christmas a couple of breweries follow tradition by tapping a brew a day until the holiday, while others reach back to their pagan roots to celebrate the winter solstice on Friday.

Gift cards, bombers and merch make for great last-minute gifts and you can treat yourself to a beer at the same time but be mindful that many taprooms roll out limited hours over the holidays. 


All Weekend and Beyond: The Twelve Firkins of Christmas continues through the 24th at Copper Kettle Brewing Company with a 20181219_095001_HDR.jpgnew and (usually) tasty offering every day, along with prizes at the end for those Christmas elves who have finished all 12.

All Weekend: Similar to Copper, Launch Pad Brewery continues their 8 Crazy Nights with beer releases all the way through Sunday the 23rd.

Thursday 20: Have An Imperial Christmas at Comrade Brewing Co. with Christmas music, cookies and multiple varieties of Quit Stalin Russian Imperial Stout.

Friday 21: Both of Oskar Blues Brewery’s Tasty Weasel taprooms will celebrate the solstice with The Darkest Day, a celebration and release of five high-gravity, barrel-aged brews. The ritual drinking starts at 11 a.m. at the Longmont and Boulder locations.

Friday 21: Dive further into the dark at Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont with a release of  the 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018 versions of their Fade to Black foreign export stout.

Friday 21: Explore the ancient Scottish tradition that celebrates the shortest day/longest 20170527_141810_HDRnight of the year with the Sacred Fire Solstice Party at Ursula Brewery. Ursula will serve several varieties of The Sacred Fire Scottish ale all day but the fiery festivities really kick up after dark with the lighting of candles and a traditional fire, along with Scottish beef stew.

Friday 21: If downtown is more your hood, join Freshcraft for their Night of Darks where they will tap four of Bell’s Brewery’s darkest and tastiest beers. Additionally, Bell’s staff will visit with glassware and swag.

Saturday 22: Enjoy the sweet pairing of a Glazed and Confuzed doughnut with a specially-created Sweet Potato Pie Specialty Ale at Fiction Beer Company all throughout the day.

Saturday 22: Set the holiday mood with the Holiday Beer Fest at Hops & Pie on Tennyson, where they will pour holiday beers from 11 craft breweries from around the country.20170624_203711_HDR

Saturday 22: Get stung by the Barreled Lightning at Diebolt Brewing’s Barreled Lightning Tap Takeover where they will be cracking 12 different kegs of the beer that they’ve saved from each month’s special release.

Saturday 22: If the family is already getting on your nerves, head to Westfax Brewing Co. for a free comedy show at 8 p.m. Kick back with some beer and20170722_130246_HDR a food truck and forget your holiday stress for a couple hours.

Saturday 22: For something a little more risque, give thanks for the unseasonably warm weather, leave your pants at home and join Black Sky Brewery for their Naughty Christmas Party. Party it up in your best (or worst) undergarments with a DJ and Ugly Undies Contest.

Sunday 23: Much like their beers, Chain Reaction Brewing Company’s Cookie & Ugly Sweater Get Together will have a little bit of everything: Christmas music, a cookie decorating station, a can & coat drive, shirt printing and holiday gifts for purchase.

Pub Pass 2019

2018 Version of the Pub Pass

Don’t forget to put in an order for your 2019 Denver Pub Pass so you can have it in your hands to start your year of free beers on January 1. This coming year brings a handful of new drinking establishments to complement the returning venues for a total of 25 free beers for only 25 bucks! In my opinion this is one of the best deals in town.

For those in the Boulder area there’s a Boulder version with 15 bars/taprooms for only 15 bucks.

As always, just because the beer is free don’t forget to tip the bartender if you received good service!

Brewery Snapshot: Spangalang Brewery

Located in the heart of the quickly-developing Five Points neighborhood, Spangalang Brewery brings some unique beers to the area. The transitional location also seems to provide a far different experience on each visit. Sometimes I’ve seen it packed with RINO hipsters, other times with Happy Hour downtown office workers, and other times . . . very, very dead. Point being, there’s not really a “typical” experience to expect, aside from interesting beers.

BEER LINEUP: At first glance Spangalang’s tap list 20181207_174103_HDRlooks fairly standard – a few light beers, a couple IPAs and some darks – but if you dig in you’ll realize that Spangalang takes creative license with most of those beers to add fruitiness, sourness, unusual hop applications or some combination of those. As a result, most of the beers are complex and somewhat challenging “thinker beers” such as their Salted Plum Table Beer. Like most breweries that push the envelope, sometimes it results in something magical and sometimes it falls flat. Definitely sample before ordering a full pour.

ATMOSPHERE: On a recent Friday night Spangalang was kind of dead and the atmosphere felt rather flat, although on other visits the taproom has been packed with after-work downtown professionals, RINO hipsters or a random mix and felt very energetic. Coming off a long work week we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere in the basic taproom that offers a view into the brewing area.20181207_173640_hdr.jpg

SERVICE: The server was fast & friendly and seemed knowledgeable about the beer. Bar service only.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The rapidly-revitalizing Five Points neighborhood serves up numerous options for eating, shopping and entertainment that you can combine with a visit to Spangalang. Although in the past the area was rather sketchy it now feels safe walking around and provides good transportation access including street parking, an adjacent parking lot accessed off of 27th Street, a light rail stop in front of the 20181207_173738_hdr.jpgbrewery and bike lanes within a couple of blocks.

STANDOUT BEER: Prince Puckercup tart farmhouse ale. While it sounds like much could go wrong with this beer, Spangalang managed to create a light-bodied beer with a mild crisp tartness balanced by traditional farmhouse flavors. The genius of the creation is that neither flavor overwhelms, making for an easily-enjoyable brew. The heavy cloudiness was a bit disconcerting but didn’t really detract from the experience.