Brewery Snapshot: Peak View Brewing Company

After being a brewery desert for so many years, DTC is finally catching up with the rest of metro Denver. The latest addition is Peak View Brewing Company, located just east of I-25 on Arapahoe Road. The brewery, which just opened in early April, is already packing in a full house to drink their impressive selection of  brews and is worth a post-work Happy Hour visit or a special trip for a longer drinking session. 

BEER LINEUP: In their short four-week existence Peak View had compiled a surprisingly diverse taplist, and more impressively almost all of them hit the mark. The brews cover the basic spectrum from a very light pineapple wheat to a dark brown and a stout. Additionally, Peak View is already branching out with things like a coffee cream, an orange saison, and a peach sour.

ATMOSPHERE: As one might expect for a DTC brewery, the clientele was mainly younger- to middle-aged professionals. On our early-evening visit the place was packed, with the garage doors open to the small patio. The taproom itself isn’t anything spectacular – the standard strip-mall model- but worked just fine for drinking beer.

SERVICE: The staff was exceptionally friendly and happy to hang out and discuss the beers in-depth, including recommendations and personal opinions. They demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the current brews along with others that have kicked or are preparing for release. Even during busy periods the staff took the time to inform patrons about beers while efficiently serving up fresh pours.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Peak View is located at the end of a strip mall in a complex with various other shops, bars, and restaurants on a section of Arapahoe Road filled with big box retailers and auto dealers. While not exactly a walkable area, you can easily combine a visit to Peak View with other errands or a lunch or dinner outing. Parking close to the brewery is tight but the surrounding area has plenty of spots.

peak-view-pils-hefe.jpgSTANDOUT BEER: Combining two of my favorite summer beer styles, the Papa J’s Pilzeweizen brought together the bite of noble hops used in typical pilsners with the banana and clove esters normally associated with hefeweizens.  The mostly-clear, golden beer had a light body and in my opinion the sweeter, fuller esters cut through the spice and bitterness from the hops for an easy-drinking, wonderfully-balanced brew.

Brewery Snapshot: Grossen Bart Brewery

For non-German speakers, Grossen Bart translates to “Big Beard” and Grossen Bart Brewery carries that theme through their entire operation, from the taproom decor to the glassware and the website to the beer names. Fortunately they didn’t spend all their time and effort on marketing and conceptualizing. The overall impression of the taproom is a utilitarian but comfortable space with friendly service and solid beers. While that wouldn’t necessarily justify a special trip from Denver, Grossen Bart makes for a pleasant stop if you live in the Longmont area or happen to pass through.

BEER LINEUP: Despite the name, Grossen Bart is not a German-focused brewery and the tap list covers the spectrum of typical styles where you’ll find a kolsch, some ambers, and an IPA, along with several dark beers and even a barley wine. Unlike many breweries, Grossen Bart seems to avoid trend-chasing and I saw no sours, fruit beers, or hazy IPAs. Overall, our group enjoyed all of the solidly-made beers.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom decor is kind of a mashup between industrial, rustic, and funky, with one wall given over to technicolor cartoons. Unfortunately rain prevented us from checking out either of the attractive-looking outdoor patios, but the spacious taproom allowed plenty of space to spread out. The general feel was relaxed and friendly.

SERVICE: Our server was friendly, enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about the beers. We really appreciated her help, as several of the beers have beard-related names without any description of the beer style.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Grossen Bart is tucked away at the end of a parking lot deep in an industrial park (look for the brewery sandwich board on the street). There’s not really a lot going on in the area except for lots of parking.

grossen-bart-mullet.jpgSTANDOUT BEER: Mullet. This copper-colored, slightly-hazy beer is difficult to categorize but very pleasant to drink. What stood out most was the enjoyable balance between the maltiness of the lager base and the noticeable but not overwhelming addition of hops. The low carbonation and medium body also contribute to making this an easy-drinking beer.

Brewery Snapshot: Wibby Brewing

When a friend scheduled a brewery crawl up in Longmont I had some reservations, given the remoteness of the location. However, I’d enjoyed Wibby Brewing at a few festivals so I made the effort to drive way up north and overall was pleased with the results. At heart, Wibby is a German-style brewery, which provides a preview of the beers you’ll encounter. The brewery is also all about about the outdoors with huge areas of tables and games but a rather cramped taproom; in other words, best to visit during warm weather.

BEER LINEUP: As mentioned, Wibby has a focus on German styles and you’ll find plenty of helles and dunkel being thrown around. However, likely in deference to current tastes, they also pour several IPAs, a red and other wibbey-bar.jpgnon-German styles.

ATMOSPHERE: The setup includes a HUGE outdoor area with several seating sections plus a game area. The small indoor taproom definitely encourages taking the party outside. The overall design is relatively cookie-cutter; rustic/industrial with brewing equipment at one end and garage doors opening to the patio on the other. One novel concept is direct bar ordering from the patio. The crowd seemed younger and happy to be chilling out with some brews and bar games. With no kitchen, Wibby’s hosts food trucks to satisfy customers’ hunger.

SERVICE: The service was reasonably fast and the bartender was friendly.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The area is currently very industrial but appears to be transforming rapidly, with a huge apartment complex going up across the street. It’s just a couple of blocks from Longmont’s main street so a visit can be combined with some shopping and dining. It’s also within a longish walk or a short bike ride or drive to several other breweries so a pub crawl also works as an option. They have a parking lot plus plenty of street parking (for wibby-moondoor-dunkel.jpgnow, at least). One additional transportation note: The Brew Hop Trolley runs on weekend days for those too tired or drunk to walk, bike or drive the route.

STANDOUT BEER: Moondoor Dunkel. At a German place I had to go native. This mahogany/brown beer hits you with heavy roasted malt and lots of it! Notes of chocolate along with the medium body keeps it from being overwhelming, though.

 

Brewery Snapshot: Dead Hippie Brewing

As most regular readers have figured out, I’m a huge promoter of local craft breweries and always try to give positive reasons to try a particular brewery, even if it’s not my favorite. However, a recent visit to Dead Hippie Brewing left me challenged for reasons to recommend it, particularly in light of the half-dozen or more breweries within a 10-minute drive. The highlight for our entire party was the funky, psychedelic taproom with interesting artwork, jam band artifacts and games – not so much the beer.

BEER LINEUP: The tap list covers a lot of ground, from a blonde through several IPA’s, a few Belgians, and couple of dark beers including a stout.  On the surface it sounds like a winning combination, however as our party worked through several sets of tasters we found that almost every beer seemed to be off to some degree from the style noted. Only a few were unpleasant but the descriptor that came up most frequently for the rest was “meh”.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom epitomizes the brewery’s name, with lots of hippie throwback artwork, Deadhead memorabilia and even pinball machines. The taproom and brewery share the same big and airy space. During our visit they had a jam band (big surprise there) but the mixed crowd of younger and older patrons plus a few families seemed to contain few actual hippies. The vibe was chill and relaxed. Dead Hippie serves snacks but has no kitchen and on our visit there was no food truck.

SERVICE: As one might expect, the service was dead-hippie-bar.jpgrelaxed and casual but friendly. The servers seemed obsessed with clearing empty glasses, but a bit more laid back about actually pouring fresh beers.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Dead Hippie is visible from South Santa Fe Drive but only accessible by driving through the big box hell on the corner of Santa Fe and Hampden Avenue. As a point of reference it’s hidden behind a Michaels. I suppose it could be convenient if you wanted to combine beer with some errands, and Boggy Draw Brewery shares the same retail/light industrial complex if drunk shopping is on your mind. Parking seemed decent and there are several restaurants in the area. The brewery is also close to the South Platte River bike trail so biking could be an option, but public transit seems inconvenient.

STANDOUT BEER: The Smoothed Out Stout is a dry Irish dead-hippie-flight.jpgstout on nitro and on the chilly evening it seemed like a comforting option. The dark color and medium mouthfeel give way to a heavily-roasted malt flavor with noticeable chocolate notes. The nitro kept carbonation low and smoothed the feel on the palate.

Brewery Snapshot : Blind Faith Brewing

The cottage and beer garden may look the same but the name and beer have changed. With St. Patrick’s moving to a distribution-only model, Blind Faith Brewing has taken over their Littleton brewery and taproom. Owned by the same folks as space-constrained De Steeg Brewing, Blind Faith looks to move beyond De Steeg’s Belgian focus into the full spectrum of brews and also take advantage of the Littleton taproom’s generous size and huge garden area. 

BEER LINEUP: On our visit the brewery was transitioning from St. Patrick’s to Blind Faith’s brews so it’s tough to say what the final tap list will look like. However when we stopped by they offered a dozen or more beers including straight-up traditional styles as well as more experimental beers with fruit, peppers, and some high-gravity offerings. Assuming minimal changes, the menu should have enough diversity to satisfy almost every taste and all the beers we tried were solid.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom opens to the brewery and is divided into a bar, an area with regular tables, a cozy fireplace pit, and a game area with a ping-pong table and other games. The neighborhood and family atmosphere that St Patrick’s fostered continues, with a mix of old and young, singles, couples, kids, and dogs. Most people stopped in for one or two and maybe some to-go beers although the families seemed to be camping out all afternoon. At some points the screaming kids became annoying even in the bar.  For warm weather, Blind Faith also has a huge, shady Blind Faith Fireplacegarden area with picnic tables and outdoor games that overlooks the South Platte River. It seems like they generally have food trucks and Lucille’s restaurant is next door, though the hours don’t overlap much with Blind Faith’s.

SERVICE: At the bar, service was friendly but spotty. On the positive side, the servers were cheerful, informative, and occasionally opinionated about the beers they served. On the negative side, they were easily distracted on a none-too-busy weekend afternoon and we had to call their attention to our empty glasses to get fresh pours.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Located a few blocks outside the quaint downtown core of Littleton, Blind Faith is sort of marooned in the middle of the parking lot it shares with Lucille’s and Dish customer service. While there is no immediate “neighborhood” to speak of, it’s certainly walkable from downtown Littleton and could be a nice stop after strolling the shops. It has a huge parking lot too. The beer garden abuts the South Platte Trail so you could even reward yourself with a beer after a nice walk or ride. I suppose it could accessed via public transit by bus or blind-faith-strawberry-fire-taster.jpga bit of a walk from light rail too.

STANDOUT BEER: Strawberry Fire combines the up-front sweetness of strawberries with a little kick of hot pepper on the backside that quickly fades out. The pepper isn’t overly pronounced so even sensitive palates shouldn’t worry. The clear, light-yellow/straw beer has a light body and few other noticeable flavors besides strawberry and peppers.

Brewery Snaphot: Cerebral Brewing

One of the numerous breweries sprinkled along East Colfax, Cerebral Brewing isn’t content to just let nature take its course but instead uses a scientific approach to brewing in order to create exactly the beers they envision. Based on the beer lineup, the brewers mainly have visions of IPAs and other hoppy creations while they dream, which are served up in a hipster-friendly taproom with a large patio.

BEER LINEUP: Most of what’s on tap tilts toward hoppy including lots of IPAs and hoppy versions of other beer styles. You will also usually find a sour or brett, along with one or two darker/high-gravity offerings. Cerebral offers a large can and bomber selection that branches out a little further into darker styles, collaborations, and other exotic creations.

ATMOSPHERE: Even though it’s in an older building the taproom has a relatively modern feel to it and contains a number of long communal tables with built-in display boxes for various  beer ingredients, along with a small bar and a few other individual tables. The taproom opens to the brewery to display the brewing equipment and barrels, and there’s a generous patio out front.  On a Friday evening the taproom was high-energy and loud, but I’ve also visited on weekend afternoons that have a much more lazy and relaxed feel. The place was somewhat of a hipster haven and seems to have a relatively upscale, younger neighborhood crowd.20190308_192833_HDR

SERVICE: We received rather hit or miss service, likely because we visited on a busy Friday night. The bartenders were hustling and reasonably friendly, but with everyone packed in around the small bar there was a certain level of disorganization and getting a beer could take a while.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Near East Colfax and Monroe Street, Cerebral shares the area with a whole host of restaurants, bars, shops, tattoo parlors, and other interesting businesses. The Bluebird Theater is just a block away, which can make parking a bit of a challenge particularly on concert nights. Be careful, as much of the street parking is permitted although Cerebral does have a small lot. Given the Colfax location, public transit or ride-sharing are both viable options.20190308_194342_HDR

STANDOUT BEER: International Waters Pils. This light-yellow, light-bodied beer offers up everything that’s good about pilsners: crisp, hoppy, refreshing. While not overly complex, International Waters makes for a pleasant, easy-drinking beer that can also be somewhat of a palate-cleanser between some of Cerebral’s hoppier creations. 

 

Brewery Snapshot: Wynkoop Brewing Company

One of Colorado’s craft beer pioneers, Wynkoop Brewing Company offers an extensive list of brews in an old warehouse space in lower downtown. The large restaurant/bar has been a LoDo staple for years as the neighborhood grew around it and is still a go-to place for many people who find themselves in the area and want some beer or grub or just a place to hang out.

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Main Bar

BEER LINEUP: Given its long history, Wynkoop naturally covers all the bases as far as beer styles, from light wheats through IPAs, ambers and all the way to stouts. While not as trend-focused as some breweries (i.e. few sours, barrel-aging, etc.) Wynkoop does produce its share of seasonal and one-off experiments. Probably the oddest one I’ve seen is the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, which is surprisingly good even with the knowledge that it’s aged with three bull testicles per barrel. Between the variety of beers and the full bar everyone ought to be able to find a beverage they can enjoy.

ATMOSPHERE: Wynkoop takes full advantage of its large historic warehouse building and both floors are left open to show off the worn brick and iron structure. The place has a comfortable, unpretentious feel with a bar area and restaurant section on the main level along with a second bar, more dining and pool tables upstairs. Depending on the time of day and any downtown events the place can range from virtually empty to packed and the vibe can also vary from very chill to high-energy. Wynkoop is one of the few breweries to serve food.

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Upstairs Pool Room

SERVICE: The service is generally fast and friendly and the servers can provide in-depth information on their beers, even the rotating/temporary ones. When there’s a large event downtown the downstairs bar can get crammed, which understandably slows things down.

NEIGHBORHOOD: As one of the first businesses to participate in the revitalization of LoDo, Wynkoop remains in the center of it all with restaurants, bars, shops, and activities in every direction and the recently-rebuilt Union Station just across the street. Parking in that part of LoDO can be challenging but there are metered spots and lots, though public transit or ride-sharing might be the best option. Wynkoop is within walking distance of Coors Field, The Convention Center, and lots of other downtown venues so it’s an easy pre- or post-event stop, part of a brewery crawl, or a destination in it’s own right.

STANDOUT BEER: Maybe it’s the recent cold weather, but I really enjoyed the Shadowmere American Stout. At first glance it appears very dark and thick but a sip tells you it’s just medium-bodied. The true appeal is in the complex and changeable flavors of this unique beer. Uncharacteristically, this stout presents hoppy notes up front along with raisin, plum, and dark fruits which then fade as a chocolate and coffee finish takes over.  If it sounds appealing get it fast, as this is one of their one-off beers!