Brewery Snapshot: Old 121 Brewhouse

Taking over the former Caution space in Lakewood, Old 121 Brewhouse held their grand opening this past Sunday with seven of their own beers, a collaboration and a handful of home-crafted sodas. Short-version, Old 121 is your standard suburban brewery; great if you’re in the neighborhood but not worth crossing town and passing a dozen other craft breweries. The taproom is little-changed from Caution and stayed full all afternoon and evening, with crowds spilling onto the patio.  Given that many breweries take a few months to really hit their groove I’ll definitely look to re-visit and reassess in six months or so.

BEER LINEUP: The seven-beer taplist mostly stuck to the light/medium styles and seemed pretty typical for opening-day; stuff that could be done quickly and with less margin for error. Everything I tried was pleasant and I’m sure like most breweries, time and experience will let Old 121 experiment and expand their offerings.

ATMOSPHERE: Opening Day is atypical for any brewery, and Old 121 certainly had a big opening day. The taproom was packed and the energetic crowd spilled out onto the patio. It seemed like a younger, neighborhood crowd with some families included. There was a lot of turnover with people dropping in to check it out and then moving on. The taproom itself retains the charmlessness of Caution and doesn’t try to hide that it’s a plain-vanilla slot in a suburban strip mall. Decoration is non-existent and furniture is bar-101; hard-surfaced bar stools along with basic tables and chairs. There are several food business in the nearby strip malls including a wing place and a pizza joint that provide food for eating in the brewery.Old 121 Taps

SERVICE: Old 121 seemed to have smartly staffed up for Opening Day and the servers were busy but still relatively efficient and very attentive.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Located in a strip mall near Wadsworth Boulevard and Jewell Avenue, the area around Old 121 is exactly what you would expect. The neighborhood contains the standard strip malls with the usual mix of chain and local businesses, surrounded by mostly single-family housing. Unless you live closeby, there’s not much to draw you to the area except, perhaps, Old 121. Most people will find Old 121 a driving destination and happily there is plentiful parking. It can be easily combined with a trip to Landlocked just down Wadsworth.

old-121-lager-mug.jpgSTANDOUT BEER: In all honesty I didn’t find a beer that blew my mind, but given their newness I thought that the Lager turned out pretty well. The light-yellow, slightly-cloudy beer had a thin mouth-feel, as one would expect. The flavor profile was significantly more complex than your average lager, however. I detected alternately a little sweet, a little sour, and a little hoppy. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it balanced as the flavors never seemed to blend, it made for an interesting and easy-drinking brew that will be a great thirst-quencher this summer.

Brewery Snapshot: Landlocked Ales

The west side of Denver seems perpetually underpopulated by breweries, particularly in light of Caution’s 2018 closure. However one bright spot remains in Landlocked Ales, which opened in 2017 near Wadsworth Boulevard and Hampden Avenue. The brewery offers a comprehensive lineup of beers that will likely satisfy most palates, served in a standard suburban taproom. Perhaps not worth a special trip, but not bad if you happen to be in the area or coming back from the mountains on US 285 (Hampden).

BEER LINEUP: The tap list includes typical representations of most major styles, and the beers I tried were pleasant. Nothing on the list was particularly experimental (the most adventurous beer was a winter warmer), but everyone ought to be able to find something to enjoy.

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ATMOSPHERE: In typical strip-mall setup, the taproom features a bar, some tables and an opening to display the brewing equipment. On our visit the place was quiet, with small groups of young and middle-aged people chatting or watching sports and occasionally grabbing a bite from the food truck. It seemed like most people were one-and-done, with constant turnover. In other words a pleasant, if unremarkable space.

SERVICE: Our servers were friendly, attentive 20190112_181830_hdrand eager to share their beer with us. Service is bar-only.

NEIGHBORHOOD: As you might imagine from the location, the area is saturated with strip malls which are surrounded by suburban houses and apartments. Landlocked is clearly either a neighborhood stop or driving destination and not really walkable. There might be some shops or restaurants in the surrounding area worth stopping in for some shopping or a bite since Landlocked does not have a kitchen, and there’s plenty of parking.

STANDOUT BEER: Ghost Porter. Landlocked takes pains to communicate that this beer in no way involves ghost – or any other – chili and really it’s a straight-up porter, though more robust than many. The mahogany-colored opaque beer has little head but a relatively thick viscosity that yields to deep roasted-malt flavors with noticeable chocolate notes. The overall richness makes it a heavier porter, almost heading into stout territory, and on a cold and snowy winter day it was perfect.

Caution Brewing Co. Closing

Fans of Caution Brewing Co. need to head over soon, as the brewery will close at the end of June. Visitors might catch a good deal on their favorite beer, as the brewery will be winding down their stock with beer specials and promotions.

However, the circle of life continues and new startup brewery will take over the space and equipment so stay tuned!

Brewery Snapshot: Ironworks Brewery & Pub

A visit to Ironworks Brewery & Pub offers a breakout from the typical Denver brewery. Perhaps it’s because they’ve been around  since last century (1989) and before there was  “typical” for a brewery. Regardless, the bar/brewery/grub setup and dive-bar feel provide a refreshing change from the overused urban “mountain-rustic-meets-modern + food-truck” brewery model.

BEER LINEUP: The in-house beer list is limited but covers the standard bases – wheat, IPA, amber, stout, and a few variants on those styles.  While none of their beers get too crazy, all the ones I tried were pleasant and enjoyable, and they did win a GABF silver for their Kentucky Common (not currently on tap). Additionally, as a pub, Ironworks pours beer from the mega-breweries for your non-crafty friends.

ATMOSPHERE: Ironworks has a full-on dive bar feel, from the dark & worn dining area to the pool & video games, to the hard rock music.  You’re not in hipster-brewery country any more! The crowd seemed really genuine and local with a few families and small groups of friends getting together for beers and munchies. The bar food was decent and the prices for both food & beer are extremely reasonable.  On nicer days customers can enjoy a view of Green Mountain from the front patio.

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SERVICE: As a pub, Ironworks offers both bar and table service. The place was busy when we arrived and the single server hustled to keep beer and food flowing. Despite the rush he gave us friendly and prompt service, and when things slowed down was super-informative about the background of their beers and their upcoming releases.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Just in front of Green Mountain, the neighborhood has the typical suburban mix of homes, big box retailers, strip malls, and apartments. In other words, nothing special to draw you to or keep you in the area. You definitely need a car to visit. Fortunately, since Ironworks sits in one of the aforementioned strip malls there’s plenty of parking, although due to frontage roads the brewery is easier to see than to access from Alameda.

STANDOUT BEER: Choco-latte Stout. Yeah, it seems a bit cliche but after a hike and paired with a burger this hearty thick & creamy stout hit the spot. The slightly dry maltiness & mild coffee bitterness balanced out the robust chocolate sweetness and hint of cherry in this dark beer. One of our party drank a great hoppy beer (straw/earthy – not citrus/floral) but since there was some confusion on what they ordered vs. received I’m reluctant to guess at the name – hopheads will just need to try a few samples!

Now Opening: Crazy Mountain Brewing Company Taproom!

20170526_192644_hdr.jpgIn a quick turnaround, the space in Glendale formerly belonging to World of Beer has re-opened a little over a week as the Crazy Mountain Cherry Creek Taproom. Given the fast re-open the space can’t have changed much but now the offerings feature Crazy Mountain year-round beers and Local Stash seasonals plus guest beers from other craft breweries. Still no food, but non-beer drinkers will appreciate the wine and cocktail options. Crazy Mountain also acquired the also-closed Lakewood World of Beer location in Belmar in Lakewood and plans a similar taproom shortly.