After being a brewery desert for so many years, DTC is finally catching up with the rest of metro Denver. The latest addition isPeak 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.
STANDOUT 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.
Tomorrow is the deadline to enter Halfpenny Brewing Company’s second annual Homebrew competition. The contest is open to all beer styles and judging will take place over the upcoming weekend. The winner gets the honor of brewing his or her beer on Halfpenny’s system and having it served in the taproom. Full details on Halfpenny’s site.
Located squarely in the middle of South Metro, Halfpenny Brewing Company offers a large and comfortable taproom with a wide selection of beers for watching the game, playing darts, or hanging out on the patio in nice weather. It’s also conveniently-located for DTC workers to enjoy after-work Happy Hours.
BEER LINEUP: Halfpenny offers up a fair mix of standard styles and does frequent releases of tweaks to those styles, particularly in the stout realm. You’ll generally find a few hoppy beers, something light, and a few darks. Overall, Halfpenny seems to favor the stouts so take note if that’s your thing.
ATMOSPHERE: On a weekday evening Halfpenny seemed particularly relaxed, with a couple dozen people hanging out in the large taproom at tables and the bar. It appeared like there were lots of regulars and folks dropping in for a quick one after work. The taproom offers plenty of space to spread out, including a summertime patio out back, and also a few dartboards if you want to sharpen your skills.
SERVICE: We sat at the bar and the service was excellent. The bartender was on top of his game and made thoughtful recommendations based on our previous orders and what was getting close to kicking.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Located about halfway between DTC and Littleton in a strip mall, it doesn’t get much more suburbia than this. Halfpenny is clearly a driving destination, with plenty of parking. There are places to order takeout to eat in the taproom, and a visit to Halfpenny could certainly be combined with running errands to the many businesses in the area.
STANDOUT BEER:Werewolves London Brown Ale helped warm me up on a cold winter day with a dark, almost black color, a thick body, and a robust roasted malt taste that was balanced by the perfect amount of hop bitterness.
It would be hard to come up with a more night-and-day relocation than the one Lost Highway just pulled off, moving from gritty, central E. Colfax to a quiet, obscure office park hidden deep in DTC. Earlier this year the owners of Lost Highway Brewing Company and Cheeky Monk sold their E Colfax building to move to greener pastures in the DTC. The brewery reopened a few weeks ago and their beers have lost nothing in the move. Lost Highway still offers high-quality Belgian beers with a few other styles mixed in.
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.
SERVICE: Friendly and fast. The bartender was knowledgeable about the beers, engaging, and seemed to be having fun with the crowd.
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.
STANDOUT BEER:Almond Coconut Porter. This beer will not be to everyone’s taste, but it certainly qualifies in the “most interesting” category. The nutty almond flavors blend seamlessly with the slightly-sweet coconut flavors and the underlying roasted malt gives the beer depth of flavor and a full body. The dark color lines up with normal porters and there’s no discernable hoppiness.
Things are never boring at 3 Freaks Brewing. As a small-system brewer they constantly rotate new batches on tap, and the whole team enjoys experimenting with new recipes. Basically, you’ll always find something new and unusual (generally in a good way). This is also a great place to chat with your server, as they are probably the friendliest in Denver and can give you the lowdown on current pours or something interesting fermenting in the back. The only downside is the Park Meadows location, though I suppose if you’re up for some buzzed shopping afterward . . .
BEER LINEUP: Eclectic comes to mind. 3 Freaks has a relatively small number of taps and with the quick turnover and experimental brewing process you really never know what you’ll find. Generally the experiments turn out well, though, and they usually serve one or two traditional styles for the less-adventurous.
ATMOSPHERE: Things seem relatively relaxed and low-energy in the taproom. The small interior features cool industrial décor while the pleasant front patio offers shade and comfy patio furniture. The surrounding strip malls offers several food options to bring back.
SERVICE:Super-friendly. It’s apparent from the start that everyone working there is passionate and informed about beer, and most, if not all of the staff takes a hand at brewing. Start chatting with a server and you’ll get a wealth of information.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Soulless Highlands Ranch Strip Mall best describes the scene. Unless you’re foraging for food or get a drunken urge for new jeans at the mall there’s little reason to explore the area. On the plus side, 3 Freaks has ample parking, which you’ll need since this is definitely a drive-to brewery.
STANDOUT BEER:Brad Pitt-less Watermelon Blonde. While chances are good this one’s gone already, if you see it you’ll want to grab a glass before the keg blows. An awesome light-bodied (but honey-colored) beer, this blonde offsets juicy watermelon flavors with a hint of saltiness and sweet maltiness, all riding on a backbone of a solid wheat beer. Truly a pleasant patio-sipping beer! If you miss it here, look for it as a 3 Freaks entry at GABF.
Hidden in the midst of DTC office parks near I25 and Arapahoe, Resolute Brewing nonetheless manages to draw crowds to its taproom and patio. Perhaps it’s the lack of breweries in the area but more likely because Resolute makes solid beers which are served by friendly and knowledgeable staff in a comfortable taproom.
BEER LINEUP: Solid if not overly adventurous. Resolute brews a wide variety of styles without a lot of experimentation so generally what you see is what you get, and the beers conform to the styles listed. Resolute’s beer list covers the spectrum so most everyone ought to be able to find a brew in their favorite style.
ATMOSPHERE: The taproom feels like a community gathering place, with groups of friends clustered at communal tables surrounding a circular bar showing off numerous taps. If the modern taproom gets too loud or crowded, you can also move out to the shady deck this time of year. Resolute is also dog-friendly.
SERVICE: Depending on how busy the taproom is, you may get table service or you might have to go to the bar. Either way, the very attentive servers provide personal insights and observations to help select beers.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Tucked into a strip mall with limited parking surrounded by office parks, there’s little ambiance in the surrounding neighborhood. However for those in the DTC it offers a convenient craft-beer stop, usually with a food truck if you get hungry.
STANDOUT BEER:Wee Heavy. On a chilly night this beer hit the spot. Swirling the dark-copper, opaque beer in the glass shows off its heavy body and prepares you for what’s ahead. The first sip hits with a thick and lingering sweet caramel/molasses taste, interspersed with light hints of raisin and alcohol. While not an everyday beer (at least for most people!), the Wee Heavy fills a great niche when you want a sipping beer to relax with.
Colfax’s loss will be DTC’s gain, as Lost Highway Brewing closed their E Colfax location yesterday with bands and beer specials, after the owners sold the building and also closed their restaurant franchise Cheeky Monk. The upside for folks in the DTC area is that Lost Highway staff says they expect to open near Arapahoe and Peoria (12741 E Caley Ave) in just three to four weeks. Never fear, though, if you find yourself thirsty and wandering the Cap Hill area of Colfax, as Alpine Dog Brewery is just down the street at Colfax and Ogden.