After visiting Colorado Plus Brew Pub I developed a keen sense of envy of folks living in Northwest Denver. Colorado Plus combines a solid brewing operation of their own with a well-curated menu of Colorado beers, plus a full kitchen, all presented in a comfortable taproom.
BEER LINEUP: Colorado Plus has a limited menu of their own beers plus dozens of guest beers and cider from across Colorado. Colorado Choice’s brews are all on the lighter side (Cream Ale, IPAs, Saison) but the guest beer collection appears to be thoughtfully put together with some of the usual suspects and many truly unique one-offs. There’s something for every taste. Finally, this is one of the rare craft breweries that offers Happy Hour!
ATMOSPHERE: The taproom feels like it used to be a local hole-in-the-wall bar that’s had a quick makeover. The interior is dark and comfortable, with the low-key vibe of a neighborhood joint populated by diverse groups of all ages and numerous families. There’s also a small patio out front.
SERVICE: Colorado Plus is one of the few breweries with table service, and in our case it was a mixed blessing. Our server was super-friendly, knowledgeable about the beers, enthusiastic, and on top of our orders . . . when we could find him. The bar seemed to have a abundance of equally friendly and efficient servers so perhaps we just had bad timing when needing a refill.
LOCATION: Tucked off 38th Ave in Wheat Ridge, Colorado Plus fits nicely into the working-class neighborhood of main street small business and small homes on side streets. While there may not be many reasons to linger in the immediate area, 38th Ave features numerous restaurants and other business if you want to hang or need to run errands. Parking is ample, both onsite and on the street.
STANDOUT BEER: Skalds, Colorado Plus’ saison, displayed a golden-orange color and the first sip offered a full-bodied beer with light farmhouse notes and spicy/savory flavors as well. While not as adventurous as some of the guest beers, Skalds proved an interesting and pleasant offering.
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.
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.
If you’re looking for an excuse to get out and drink beer this Saturday June 3, head down to Ursula Brewery in Aurora and help them celebrate their 3rd anniversary starting at 11:00 am.
They’ll have live bands and a pig roast, along with (of course) new beers on tap and a special release. At 11:00 am they plan to release Angel of the Odd, their new sour
So right off the bat, yes, Breckenridge Brewery is owned by Inbev so it rides the line between craft beer and big-bad-industrial-beer ownership. And frankly, it also feels rather mass-produced (though The Farmhouse was completed before the Inbev deal). Perhaps Breck intended for the suburban crowds of Littleton and Highlands Ranch to feel like they have a “craft brewery” in their neighborhood without actually having to travel or subjecting themselves to anything unfamiliar. Be that as it may, a friend suggested Happy Hour there so off I went and, as designed, had a pleasant and non-challenging experience. The Farmhouse serves all the Breck standards and happily seems to now use some of that added brewing capacity to make stuff you can’t find at the local liquor store. They also do have some pretty great comfort food. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as a destination, and truthfully there are plenty of actual, great craft breweries within a couple of miles, but if you do go (perhaps with kids or grandparents) everyone will likely have a pleasant-enough time.
BEER LINEUP: Improved. Previously The Farmhouse offered the same old Breck brews you could get at any restaurant or liquor store (think Avalanche, Agave Wheat) but has since expanded into some one-offs like an orange chocolate stout and barrel aged beers. While not covering every style they have a broad selection from very light Kolsch to deep, dark stouts. Nothing way out there like sours, though.
ATMOSPHERE: Cracker Barrel on steroids – like a rustic building decorated by a midwest housewife with lots of tacky stuff to buy. It definitely has a family restaurant atmosphere, much like White Fence Farm in Lakewood and it almost seemed like more people came to eat than drink. I guess that’s not surprising considering the food was fantastic. During the summer the large patio and recreation area offers additional hangout options.
SERVICE: Fun, at least at the bar. The servers flirted and teased the customers and each other. It seemed like the servers actually enjoyed their job. When we needed anything or placed an order they were fast and attentive.
NEIGHBORHOOD: None to speak of. Breck sits on its own semi-rural campus between downtown Littleton and C470 on Santa Fe. The campus backs up the Platte River and trail, and features numerous production buildings for both Breckinridge and contract brewing along with an unrelated winery.
STANDOUT BEER: Dry Irish Stout on Nitro starts off thick and creamy with heavy roast malt and, as promised, a drying sensation on the tongue which left minimal aftertaste. Simple but pleasing.
I made it to my first Halfpenny Brewing Company Beer and Cheese Pairing last night and it was great! Aside from the attractive presention, the cheese was spectacular and the Whole Foods rep gave interesting background and tasting suggestions for each cheese and beer. Apparently he has the enviable job of coming in to taste all the beers each month before selecting cheese pairings. It seems to work great! I’d highly recommend keeping an eye on Halfpenny’s website for next month’s event.
This month several breweries are doing taproom events involving food that might help break up the dark winter days.
New Image Brewing Co. in Old Town Arvada seems to favor sours and Bretts on their limited house-brewed taplist, but since those are not really my thing I went with the Olde Town Regular. Olde Town Regular is tough to categorize but relatively straightforward to describe. At first it tastes like a Pils both in body and in the slightly bitter, German-hops flavor. However it ends with a bit of floral hops (just a little). The very light yellow color and slight cloudiness make it look more like a shandy or radler than a traditional clear yellow pils. New Image lists it as a German-style lager hybrid, which I guess pretty much captures the challenge of categorizing it, but shouldn’t scare anyway away from trying it. It’s a solid, light beer that’s easy to drink and probably refreshing on a hot day. Note: Even if this beer doesn’t sound appealing or you’re not into sours, New Image offers a full bar and decent list of other beers on tap and in bottles.