Brewery Snapshot: River North Brewery

Brewery Snapshot: Brewability Lab

Even with the great diversity in the Denver 20170808_182550_HDRbrewing scene Brewability Lab stands out for its unique mission and concept. Designed to provide job opportunities and work experience for special needs individuals, Brewability also strives to create an inclusive environment for everyone, particularly special-needs patrons. While the location is a bit of a stretch for many, it is well worth checking out both for the tasty beer as well as the super-chill atmosphere and friendly patrons and employees.

BEER LINEUP: Brewability’s supply was a little low when we were there, with only five beers on tap, but normally they feature eight or more. The beers cover the spectrum from a light strawberry wheat to a dark coffee porter and are pleasant and solid examples of their styles – nothing too experimental.

ATMOSPHERE: Brewability is open relative short hours – evenings and weekends – and the evening we were there the taproom filled early with local workers then 20170808_182035_HDRbroadened into a more diverse mix. The small café-like taproom opens to the parking lot and includes all sorts of games, toys, and accessibility features. Tiffany, the owner, goes out of her way to create a welcoming and open space and there was a lot of mixing and friendly chatting amongst random strangers. She also schedules lots of special events like Batchelor-watching nights, fundraisers, and parties so the crowd – and energy level – changes along with the event.

SERVICE: Fast and friendly. Brewability’s unique color-coded ordering system (order green for IPA, purple for Porter) helps the bartenders keep the beer flowing fast. Tiffany constantly circulates throughout the taproom keeping patrons engaged and having fun by suggesting games, bringing out science kits (below), and explaining the brewery’s unique goals and operation.

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Tiffany Brings Out Goggles In Case Something Goes Awry

NEIGHBORHOOD: Brewability replaced Caution Brewing in a hard-to-find storefront in an anonymous industrial park just off I70 and Peoria. While they’ve added signage to make it easier to find, you still have to pay attention. Parking is ample, although food is in short supply since the area is just one industrial building after the other. If you’re hungry, Brewability has snacks or you can BYO. Unless you work up there, there’s nothing going on for miles around!

STANDOUT BEER: The Science Kit, because it can be any beer you concoct. In my opinion this is such a fun and cool idea. Brewability has trays that outfit you with beer samplers and flavor-modifiers like peach and woodruff so you can experiment and create your own favorite flavor profile. Our group had loads of fun and put together some great – and some kinda awful – combinations by mixing beers and additives.

Brewery Snapshot: Odyssey Beerwerks

Brewery Snapshot: Blue Moon Brewing Company

When some friends scheduled a Happy Hour at the Coors-owned Blue Moon Brewing Company taproom in RINO I tried to keep an open mind, but unfortunately the experience confirmed my worst fears and in some areas lowered the bar to surprising depths. On the positive side the exquisite space shows what Coors-level money can buy. On the downside the beers were generally bland and the service was abysmal. Given that Great Divide Barrel Bar, Mockery Brewing, and numerous other RINO breweries are a short walk away, if you come to this area for craft beer you can do much, much better.

BEER LINEUP:  Blue Moon offers a range of styles, including a number of barrel-aged options. However our group’s consensus was that most of the beers were washed-out versions of their advertised style. The only exceptions were a few of the barrel-aged and high gravity brews that exhibited some sparks of taste.

ATMOSPHERE: Trendy-industrial. The indoor and outdoor spaces were definitely the high point of the visit. Blue Moon offers a spacious patio along with a modern-industrial take on a brewery space. Like many taprooms there are lots of hard surfaces, which are offset with colorful, quirky décor. The circular central bar looks like it could have great service potential and the taproom has a full kitchen (see service below). The patrons looked to be an upscale mixture of tourists, business people, and families.20170803_193906_HDR

SERVICE: Truly awful. When table service proved rarer than Haley’s comet, a trip to the bar was met with workers who shuffled past waiting patrons in a seemingly zombified state. Even getting their attention didn’t generate much reaction as they very slowly got around to providing service. The server who eventually cruised by the table compounded the disappointment with a scolding for those thirsty few who had the nerve to walk to the bar, then proceeded to ignore half the table, and delivered the requested beers at a snail’s pace.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Blue Moon occupies the fast-developing Brighton Boulevard portion of RINO. While street work currently causes some headaches in getting around, once complete the area will no doubt have a long-overdue facelift with even more convenient access. The surrounding area offers only a few retail business today but with the development slowly creeping out from downtown it will no doubt pop in the near future. In addition to some street parking, Blue Moon offers a decent-sized lot as well.

STANDOUT BEER: None, really, although I had a sip of one of their high-gravity beers that seemed to have some potential.

Brewery Snapshot: Grist Brewing Company

Brewery Snapshot: Living the Dream Brewery

With its location at the edge of the suburbs, Living The Dream Brewery may be a hard sell for city folk but the beer selection makes it worth the trip. It makes a great weekend afternoon destination, where you can grab something from the food truck and kick back on one of their patios with few beers. It also works well for a Littleton pub crawl, as there are at least four other breweries nearby along the Santa Fe corridor.

BEER LINEUP:  Variety is the name of the game at Living The Dream. They put out styles ranging from a light Belgian wheat up through several IPAs to a dark, full-bodied coffee stout. Along the way they take some creative detours like a strawberry wheat and Belgian cherry.

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Rainy Day on the Back Patio

ATMOSPHERE: This definitely seems to be the Highlands Ranch hangout. During our rainy visit the industrial-minimalist taproom was packed with families, large groups, and dogs, and light on the hipster crowd often found at downtown breweries.  No doubt during nicer weather people spread out onto the patios and the taproom becomes much less chaotic. Living the Dream has a decent-sized front patio adjacent to the parking lot and food truck, and a large back patio with pleasant mountain views. I believe the back patio is also 21+ so maybe a haven for those looking to avoid the kiddos running around the taproom.

SERVICE: You’ll need to go to the bar for a beer and while not exactly speedy the servers are friendly.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Like many breweries, Living the Dream located themselves in an industrial park area. It can be a bit tricky to pick the correct turn off of Santa Fe and once you find it,  it becomes apparent that Living the Dream the only retail business for far around. Fortunately they usually have a food truck. Most people would consider this a destination brewery and as such, it fortunately has ample parking in the lot and on the street.

 STANDOUT BEER: Cherry McGuire Belgian cherry beer. Very few places make a Belgian kriek-style beer so I always enjoy running across one. With Cherry McGuire, cherry is pretty much all you taste – sweet on the front and a little tart/bitter on the back. While not the best kriek-style beer I’ve had, given the rarity of the style it puts on a good show and stands out from the standard beer styles.

Littleton – Highlands Ranch Loop

Another long ride similar to the Southeast Ride, this one cuts through a state park with a reservoir, features scenic trails and mountain views, and for better or worse takes on some big hills. A couple of differences include a much more rural setting, some on-road stretches along high-speed Santa Fe, sections of gravel trail, and a railroad crossing.

The ride starts at the Breckenridge Brewery Farmhouse, 20170301_174707_hdr1.jpgwhere you can get primed for the long ride with both tasty homestyle food and beer served either in the farmhouse building, on one of its screened patios, or in the expansive beer garden. The Farmhouse is extremely busy but if you start early parking shouldn’t be an issue and the service is always efficient. The beer selection can be hit or miss, so maybe just have one before grabbing your bike, riding out the main entrance, and heading left to launch southbound on the South Platte River Trail (Mary Carter Greenway on some signs). Continue reading “Littleton – Highlands Ranch Loop”

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