Bruz Beers is hosting another round of their Learn About Belgian Beers classes. These classes cover the basics and major categories of Belgian beers and you get to taste a dozen of them while learning about history and characteristics of each. Tickets are $25 for either the February 2 or February 16 sessions, however Bruz typically offers these classes twice a month along with homebrewing courses so no worries if you can’t fit it in your February calendar. Check out their website for the most up-to-date schedule.
Set in a walkable residential neighborhood, Platt Park Brewing Company always seems busy. The pleasantly-large taproom along with the small outdoor seating offers a comfortable space to stop by for a quick beer or two. I find most of their beers pleasant but not exceptional, however the central location makes it easy to stop in and decide for yourself.
BEER LINEUP: The menu features a broad range of styles from pilsners to stouts, with a few forays into interesting territory like sours and flavored beers. I’ve found their beers a little on the bland side but every time I visit they seem to have upped their game a bit more so there seems to be lots of potential.
ATMOSPHERE: Platt Park offers a busy, high-energy urban taproom, populated by a younger, neighborhood crowd that seems to be constantly circulating in and out as they drop in for a beer or two.
SERVICE: While the busyness of the taproom slowed things a bit, the servers were extremely friendly and did a great job of keeping things moving, at times even wading into the waiting crowd to take orders.
LOCATION: The Platt Park area is the epitome of local, with lots of quiet single-family homes from which you can walk to small shopping clusters containing businesses like Platt Park. You’ll need to look for street parking, but once you have a spot the area is great for strolling around and visiting the shops or grabbing some food to take to the brewery.
STANDOUT BEER: Belgian Ambassador Dubbel. This beer lays on the heavy raisin and bready tastes common in many Belgians, though normally at a lighter level. I really enjoyed this unique interpretation and happily was able to have a second because despite the heavy flavor and darkish color the body remains medium and the ABV only hits 6.6%
In addition to the tasty Belgian beers, you gotta love the promotions that Bruz Beers puts on for their customers. Monday is Customer Appreciation Night, Tuesday is buy a draft and get a crowler at 1/2 price, and Wednesday-Friday feature Happy Hour from 3-6. However even without the promos Bruz stands out for its beers and energetic atmosphere.
BEER LINEUP: Bruz clearly focuses on Belgian-style beers in the saison/dubbel/tripel family but also offers a few beers that may appeal to hop-lovers by supplementing traditional Belgian flavors with W Coast or New Zealand hops.
ATMOSPHERE: The evening we visited, the mostly-full taproom had a great energy with a lively, younger crowd. I didn’t see any families but the taproom is VERY dog-friendly with pooches all over the place. The layout showcases the clean, industrial space with lots of concrete, metal, and glass decorated with interesting art for sale on the walls. There is also a patio.
SERVICE: The bar seemed very well staffed and despite the flurry of activity the servers were fast and friendly but still took time with each customer. They happily and successfully guided undecided members of our party to beers they loved.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Located in the recently-invented “Midtown” neighborhood at 67th and Pecos in northwest Denver, the area is an outpost of sparkling new residential construction in the midst of an industrial landscape. Aside from the brewery there’s not much of a draw, although the restaurant next door will deliver food to hungry drinkers and Bruz generally has a food truck. If you don’t see street parking, Bruz has a large lot behind the building too.
STANDOUT BEER: Dubbel Trubbel hits the spot on a cold fall day. The appearance is dark and reddish and though there’s not much nose on the beer, the flavor comes bursting through on the first sip. A complex mix of roasty malts, raisin, candi sugar, mild hops and spicy Belgian yeast flavors keep your palate busy.
When you get the urge for some serious Belgian beer, it’s time to head north and catch River North Brewery at their sorta-new location near I25 and 58th. While the neighborhood won’t win any curb-appeal points, the inside of the brewery feels friendly and comfortable despite the minimalist design. The huge stacks of cans and kegs make it apparent that River North focuses primarily on distribution, but fortunately not at the expense of the taproom. River North rewards the journey up there and by providing a great place to hang out for an afternoon or evening – but watch the ABV on some of those delicious Belgian brews!
BEER LINEUP: River North is justifiably known for Belgians and their new facility has allowed them to branch out into IPAs and occasionally other styles. The taplist mixes about 65% Belgians with 30% IPAs and a little bit of “other”. The takeaway: come for Belgians and IPAs.
ATMOSPHERE: Although the taproom is really just a corner of a warehouse, the interaction between the patrons and the bartender makes for a relaxed and comfortable experience and encourages lingering for yet another beer. The back of the taproom opens to the brewery and warehouse and the front features a small patio and often a food truck.
SERVICE: Our bartender was very friendly and helpful in describing and recommending beers. He clearly knew all of their beers in detail and was able to compare and contrast them when providing suggestions based on our previous selections.
LOCATION: Really, seriously, in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by railroad tracks and storage yards there’s little reason why you’d happen upon River North unless it’s your destination. However, as a destination, it’s fairly easy-access from highways and downtown plus easy parking. Be sure to keep an eye out for the building as it is set back from the road with subtle signage.
BEER LINEUP: Belgian focus with a sprinkling of other styles like IPAs, a dark, and a light. Basically something for everyone.
ATMOSPHERE: Much more chill than on Colfax. Mostly a younger crowd hanging out and kicking back with brews. The taproom is smaller than on Colfax, but uncrowded on a weekend evening and the new patio offers additional warm-weather space. Lost Highway doesn’t have a kitchen but does schedule an occasional food truck. Tucked way back in an office park there’s no other food in the area unless you’re into foraging in the nearby meadows.
NEIGHBORHOOD: None to speak of. Buried deep in anonymous office and industrial parks you’ll need a good map app to find it, and at night it’s the only light for miles around. You pretty much need a car to get there, but if you want to turn it into a pub crawl there are a few taprooms (Two Penguins Tap and Grill and Growler USA) 5-10 minutes away off Arapahoe Road.
For a remote brewery hidden in a quiet industrial park, 105 West Brewing Company packs in some happy surprises. On our visit, crowds of all types filled the taproom and gave it an energetic feel, while the comprehensive beer list delivered both variety and flavor. It’s a bit of a drive from Denver but well worth a stop if you find yourself in Castle Rock or commuting to Colorado Springs, since it’s less than five minutes off the highway.
BEER LINEUP: 105 West sticks to traditional styles and has great coverage from a light wit to a dark stout and high-gravity Tripel. All the beers I tried fit squarely (and tastily) into their named style category so count on getting you ask for.
ATMOSPHERE: Despite the lack of any discernible neighborhood the place was packed with energetic people (and dogs) of all ages including families with kids. The actual space shows an attempt to dress up a basic industrial park box with some rustic wood and an open brewery, but in the end you’re not coming for the pretty decor. There’s also a small patio out front and they seem to regularly have either a food truck or someone squished in between fermenters dishing out grub.
SERVICE: This one cut both ways during our visit. While the servers helpfully chatted up customers, poured samples, recommended other beers, etc. (+), this tended to jam up lines at the bar (-). It wasn’t the biggest deal but be warned if you are beer-desperate. One interesting note is the no-tipping policy; any tips go to charity.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Industrial park with few attractions around other than a brew shop two doors down. Given the Castle Rock location this one’s definitely a driving destination and thankfully features ample parking.
STANDOUT BEER: Belgian Tripel. This beer blended great Belgian yeast flavors with a little bit of farmhouse for an extremely balanced and flavorful Tripel having just the slightest bit of sweetness. The beautiful golden color made it even more appealing, and the slight cloudiness visually reinforced the yeast and farmhouse flavors.
Located right off the DU campus on Evans, Fermaentra Brewing has a true neighborhood-bar feel with little of the college party vibe one might expect. It seems like more of a place where neighbors drop in for one or two than a hangout destination, perhaps because of the residential, high-traffic neighborhood. The cozy space provides a chill, relaxing spot to enjoy the rotating beer list and weekday afternoons they offer Happy Hour – a rarity among breweries.
BEER LINEUP: The beers tilt toward Belgian and high-gravity, although on this visit there were a couple of IPAs. If you’re a picky drinker check out the tap list before you go as Fermaentra does not always have broad style choices, although there’s enough variety you should be able to find something enjoyable.
ATMOSPHERE: The space offers a warm, friendly vibe featuring
brick covered with modern art for sale. The crowd appeared to be grad students and neighborhood residents, so perhaps the undergrads were next door at Stadium Inn sucking down budget-friendly Buds. The taproom is on the small side and there’s no patio. Fermaentra doesn’t seem to have food trucks but there are a number of takeway places nearby.
SERVICE: Friendly and fast. They like to explain their beer
NEIGHBORHOOD: Fermaentra sits on the commercial strip of Evans just a couple blocks from DU. You can easily combine a brewery visit with dinner elswhere or bring food in. Parking is generally good and there’s a lot of activity and people on Evans, while the side streets are quieter and heavily residential.
STANDOUT BEER: Meristem Russian Imperial Stout falls squarely into the high-gravity Belgian-leaning category that Fermaentra excels at. You immediatly notice the thick and syrupy body, then the rich, slightly sweet chocolate/roasty flavors hit your mouth accompanied by a hint of raisin. Definitely don’t leave there without at least sample!