Brewery Snapshot: Cerveceria Colorado

Although it shares a location, owner and brewer with Denver Beer Co (DBC), Cerveceria Colorado offers a night and day experience in both atmosphere and beer. Cerveceria Colorado grew out of the brewer’s experiences in Mexico where he discovered unique ingredients and found personal connections and collaborations. The colorful and festive taproom serves up a tap list that showcases unusual and flavorful Mexican ingredients in inventive beers.

BEER LINEUP: Don’t expect to find a menu full of plain-Jane Mexican lagers, or really traditional styles of any form. You’ll certainly encounter stouts, lagers and IPA’s but they’ve all been enhanced with unique ingredients like pineapple, horchata, fruits, pepper, and even nopales (cactus leaves). Many of the beers on the adventurous menu result from Cerveceria’s collaboration with Mexican brewers.

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ATMOSPHERE: The taproom provides a strong contrast to typical industrial-style craft beer locations, with vibrant, bright colors and decorations reminiscent of a Mexican fiesta, complete with bowls of candy. Slightly larger and calmer than DBC next door, the taproom offers a nice place to relax and the spacious patio looks like a great warm-weather hangout.

SERVICE: Both servers who helped us were friendly, 20190109_182239_hdrattentive, and chill. They seemed to have a reasonable knowledge of the beers they poured, along with an enthusiasm for sharing the history and inspiration for the brewery.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Sitting directly on Platte Street, the brewery stands in the thick of a lively neighborhood with restaurants, bars and shops in case you want to go for a stroll, grab some food (Cerveceria has no kitchen) or do some buzzed shopping. It’s also within walking distance of downtown, close to the Platte River bike trail and easily accessed off the highway and major roads. Parking is so-so but usually a handful of 2-hour metered spots are open, and there’s a pay lot beside DBC.

20190109_182233_hdr.jpgSTANDOUT BEER: In the past year I’ve noticed a distinct upgrade in pineapple beers served at craft breweries (yeah, hard to imagine til you try one) and Cerveceria’s offering is no exception. The slightly-cloudy, honey-orange-colored Señor Piña offers a distinct pineapple aroma with a taste that alternates between pineapple sweetness and a straw-like dryness from the mosaic hops. I found the balance very pleasant and every sip was different; sometimes the pineapple predominated, other times the hops.

Pub Pass Circuit

In an attempt to check off a number of Pub Pass breweries, a friend20181001_143113_HDR scheduled at short ride (approx. 5 miles) through The Highlands and Edgewater. The route primarily uses residential streets but takes a few trails, most notably through Sloan’s Lake Park with pretty views of the lake and mountains. The shorter ride lets you finish before dark on these shorter fall days but beware if it’s a Broncos Sunday, as the first part of the route runs reasonably-close to the stadium.

Briar Common signWe started at Briar Common Brewery + Eatery, which as the name implies offers both beer and food. The location in The Highlands is reasonably accessible by bike from light rail and other transit but if you choose to drive, parking can be tricky with many streets marked for resident permits only. Briar Common serves up a wide range of beers that should satisfy most tastes, paired with gourmet/trendy food offerings. The location in an old brick building feels cozy and has a wonderful patio on the roof for warm days (and why else would you be out biking, right?)

Leaving Briar Common we rode directly west on 23rd Avenue to Sloan’s Lake Park and beautiful views of the Front Range. A quick ride through the park to the corner of Sheridan Boulevard and 25th Avenue brought us to our next stop at Joyride.

Arriving at Joyride Brewing Company, we used 20180915_135700_hdr.jpgthe bike racks in front and at the municipal lot across the street and dived right in to the diverse taplist. In my experience Joyride can be a hit or miss in their selection but I’ve never been completely frustrated with their offerings. The taproom connects to the outdoors with garage doors opening to pleasant Sloan’s Lake views in front and a patio/biergarten out back. On our visit it appeared that they are building a rooftop patio to further leverage their location. Like Briar Common, this place is best experienced in warm weather. If the short ride calls for some sustenance, food trucks consistently park out front.

Crossing back over Sheridan Boulevard and taking Byron Place along the edge of the park we took a left on Xavier (though almost any of the streets opposite the park will work), headed uphill four blocks to 29th Avenue and took a right to bring us to Hogshead Brewery after a couple more blocks.20180915_152206_hdr.jpg

Hogshead Brewery was busy on the beautiful day we rode, with the tiny interior and big patio almost full. Hogshead’s specialty is English-style cask ales  so we settled in for a few lightly-carbonated bitters, porters, and the like. They do have a few other beers such as a saison and blonde but where they really shine is the English brews. They don’t typically have a food truck but there’s a coffee shop next door for a quick snack, and if you happen to have bike problems a bike shop shares the building with the coffee place.

We continued east on 29th Avenue across Lowell Boulevard and the tricky Speer Boulevard crossing to Zuni Street and Zuni Street Brewing.

Zuni Street Brewing Company was also having a busy day with both patios plus their interior full. The taproom has an island feel to it thanks to the vegetation-covered bar, the openness to breezes 20180915_172342_hdr.jpgfrom both the front and rear patios, and the chill band. As for beers, Zuni Street covers the full spectrum from dark to light but on my visits it seems like IPAs and hoppier styles are their sweet spot. We found a place in the shade on the front patio where we had easy access to both the bar and food truck.

Finally, as the sun and temperatures started to drop we headed back out on 29th Avenue – west this time – a few blocks to Clay where we turned south until we reached 23rd Avenue and our starting point of Briar Common.

This route is pretty easy to shake up many different ways and add or subtract breweries since it’s such a target-rich area (Little Machine comes to mind). Given the short distances you definitely want to pace yourself, though, as it’s easy to travel between breweries in just a few minutes.

For details on our particular route click the link.

Weekend Beer Update

Hopefully by now everyone has recovered from their Great American Beer Festival hangover and perhaps found a new favorite brewery or beer at the Fest. Life goes on, and this weekend offers up a number of fall-themed brewery events including several Oktoberfests across the metro area.

Friday 28 – Sunday 30: Munich comes to Boulder at Avery Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest, with a special beer menu and free Kaiser for anyone in a traditional German outfit.reichstag-entrance.jpg

Friday 28 – Sunday 30: If RINO is more your scene, Black Shirt Brewing Co. celebrates their sixth anniversary all weekend with special releases (actually starting Wednesday), creative beer slushies and cocktails, Beer, Bacon and Bluegrass on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday.

Saturday 29: Oktoberfest makes a stop at Seedstock Brewery from 5-11 p.m. with a special Hell tapping, plenty of Oktoberfest beer, polka music, contests and free mugs for those in traditional German attire. A meat-heavy food20170808_182550_HDR truck rounds out the Germanic picture.

Saturday 29: Join Brewability Lab in celebrating their second anniversary with music, a mobile cigar lounge, a yoga bus and a pop-up shop.

Saturday 29: Load up on numerous can and bottle releases at Fiction Beer Company’s fourth anniversary party. In addition to the takeaway options,  enjoy special tappings, live music and limited-edition glassware on their special day.

Saturday 29: Howdy Fest Rides into Lafayette with music, food, and a special release briar-common-sign.jpgfrom The Post Brewing Co. along with pours from a number of other area breweries.

Sunday 30: Enjoy a preview of Briar Common Brewery’s upcoming anniversary beers at their five-course beer-pairing dinner. The first seating starts at 4:30 p.m. but if demand calls for it they will add a later seating. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Brewery Snapshot: Zuni Street Brewing Company

Located in the heavily-breweried Highlands area, Zuni Street Brewing Company nonetheless manages to create a unique experience. While I found their beer decent but not spectacular, the spacious, rustic-themed taproom with both front and back patios differentiates them from other area breweries as a summer hangout.

BEER LINEUP: Zuni Street features mostly lighter beers, with a handful of dark and high-gravity offerings. The ones I tried were pleasant, but not exceptional: great for a neighborhood pub.

ATMOSPHERE: With the garage doors open to both patios on a beautiful sunny day the place was busy and had a lots of energy. The open taproom with the pergola-and-plant-covered bar lends a tropical feel and Zuni Street offers board games for inside and patio games for outside. There’s also a food truck.

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SERVICE: Given how busy the evening was, the servers moved orders through reasonable quickly and offered friendly service. It appeared to be bar-only service.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Located just a couple blocks from Speer & Zuni, between I-25 & Federal, The immediate area around the brewery is redeveloping at a frantic pace although there are still plenty of run-down older buildings and vacant lots. The area feels totally safe, though, and offers plenty of other businesses, including breweries, within 20180621_172209_HDRwalking distance. You could easily include Zuni Street in a pub crawl, and they frequently participate in the West Side Brewery Bus Loop.

STANDOUT BEER: The Zuni Street IPA pretty much defines the IPA style and offered plenty of hops and refreshment on a hot day. The beer pours clear and golden-copper with only minimal head.

Brewery Snapshot: Briar Common Brewery

I had heard great things about Briar Commons Brewery’s food and mixed reviews about their beer, so I jumped on a friend’s suggestion to head up there over the weekend to see for myself. As promised, Briar Common cooked up some tasty food, and the beer also exceeded expectations. Situated between The Highlands and Mile High, Briar Common makes a great stop by itself, or a good place to refuel on a brewery walking tour that could include Zuni Street Brewing Company and/or Little Machine.

BEER LINEUP: Briar Common’s beer list seems to focus on Belgians and hoppy beers, along with a few experimentals like Kimchi-Inspired Sour Chili Ale.  However if none of their offerings strike your fancy they also serve guest beers, wine, and hard liquor.

ATMOSPHERE: Located in a renovated old brick building, Briar Common seems both modern and cozy at the same time. The warmth of the brick combined with modern updates and brewing tanks at the edge of the taproom made for a low-key vibe. The brewery seemed to draw a younger, vibrant, neighborhood crowd meeting up for a beer, a bite, and some sports-viewing. Signage promised a rooftop deck coming soon.

SERVICE: Simply excellent. As soon as we walked in the door a server shepherded us to a table and after that a non-stop parade of servers checked in, answered questions, and was just generally friendly and attentive.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The area is a mix of new & trendy housing, old residences, and neighborhood businesses. You can easily park on the street and make a day of brewery-hopping or visiting local businesses, with the knowledge that the area gets nicer toward downtown/Highlands and a little less so toward Mile High Stadium and Federal Blvd. Access from downtown or the highway is easy, and I’d imagine RTD offers some public transit options too.

STANDOUT BEER: The golden-apple color of the Hobart Tripel promised great things even before the first smell or taste and it didn’t disappoint. Each sip offered up a wonderful Belgian with a tart apple and raisin component complemented by the breadiness of the Belgian yeast.

Brewery Snapshot: Hogshead Brewery

20171111_130501_hdr.jpgHogshead Brewery is simply all about the English-style beers; nothing more and nothing less. It’s a bit of a quirky approach all around, from the tiny taproom to the laser-focus on a singular style but it seems to work, as the taproom regularly fills up with crowds spilling over to the outside tables.

BEER LINEUP: All things English: multiple bitters, pale ales, a mild, and a porter. Oddly, there was one Belgian light beer too. To add to the variety, many of the beers can be poured off either the cask or the keg.

ATMOSPHERE: Hogshead definitely has a neighborhood-hangout feel and if it wasn’t for being squeezed into a former gas station it could almost qualify as a local British pub. The diverse crowd includes older couples, younger groups of friends, and couples with kids. The small taproom gets cozy in cold weather but in the summer patrons can use the many outdoor tables. There is no food on premises.

SERVICE: Fast and informative. The 20171111_130651_HDRserver helpfully explained some of the nuances between various British varieties like bitter vs. ESB, among other things.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Hogshead sits in a quaint residential neighborhood west of The Highlands and is definitely a destination bar unless you’re a local. Aside from a small retail building across the street with a soon-to-open Growler USA there’s little to draw you to the area. Street parking is plentiful along with Hogshead’s small lot.

STANDOUT BEER: Gilpin Black Gold porter. Darker than your average porter but with medium body, the flavor is intensely roasty and malty with hints of chocolate. The beer provides a satisfying experience, particularly on a cool fall day.

Brewery Snapshot: Diebolt Brewing

Diebolt Brewing takes a bit of effort to find, located in a neighborhood northeast of 38th & Pecos, but the effort is rewarded by tasty beer, and once you’ve been there it’s easy to return. No doubt Diebolt’s retro-industrial look will feel trendy when Highlands-level development moves to the area, but for now it just feels like a practical design for a relaxed neighborhood hangout that makes accessible beers without pretense. If you want to make a day or evening of it, you can easily wander down to one of the nearby restaurants or even visit Factotum Brewhouse for more variety. 20170624_203711_HDR

BEER LINEUP: French and American wheat styles predominate with a few IPAs and other one-offs. Even if you don’t find your favorite style, Diebolt offers enough tame beers that you could likely find something to chill with for one or two.

ATMOSPHERE: The small taproom in an old industrial building has a pretty bare-bones feel. The  laid-back vibe, where both servers and patrons seemed very chill and familiar, felt like there’s a lot of neighborhood traffic. Usually a food truck will pull up, and in warmer months Diebolt opens their patio/loading dock out front. They also offer space in the brewing area for private events.

SERVICE: Laid back and low-key. Business was relatively slow when we were there so ordering at the bar was fast and friendly.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Located just north of 38th Ave, the area hasn’t seen the Highlands-hype from further south and remains working-class. Diebolt sits between a quiet single-family-home neighborhood and 38th Ave., with its semi-seedy/newly-trendy mashup of restaurants, tattoo parlors, auto stores, liquor, etc. Access from I25 or I70 via 38th is quick and the neighborhood offers plenty of parking.

STANDOUT BEER: Anton Francois French Ale. The clear, straw/copper-colored beer delivers a pleasant balance of saison flavors (likely from the yeast) and a good hit of malt with some breadiness, without going too much into the Farmhouse realm, as can sometimes happen with these sorts of beers.