Brewery Snapshot: The Grateful Gnome Brewery

Located just off popular Tennyson Street in Northwest Denver, The Grateful Gnome Sandwich Shop and Brewery combines a food and beer to create an interesting neighborhood hangout. The New Jersey and West Virginia history of the owners comes through in some of the food offerings, the college football flags, and game-day parties. Because of the emphasis on the food, Grateful Gnome feels like more of a restaurant than a hang-out brewery but they do make quite a long list of beers in a variety of styles.20181220_192947_HDR.jpg

BEER LINEUP: The tap list covers a lot of territory, from a blonde right through a stout, along with a few creative tangents like a gingerbread stout and hibiscus saison. The beers I sampled were solid representations of their style and most beer-drinkers will find something pleasant to accompany their meal.

ATMOSPHERE: The stripped-down industrial taproom has a few quirky decorations but feels a lot like a college sandwich shop. The lively and diverse evening crowd consisted of after-work office groups, families, couples and random 20181220_182108_HDR.jpgfriends getting together. The facility has sit-down table service along with a bar and food takeaway counter. The overall vibe was more restaurant than brewery and it seemed that more people were ordering food than treating it like a beer joint.

SERVICE: Our server was extremely friendly and chatty and seemed to know a lot about the food and less about the beer. Unfortunately all the chattiness got in the way of fast and efficient service and at times we were left waiting for our orders or having to repeat requests. While I wouldn’t count it as bad service, some allowances are required.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The Tennyson Street corridor is rapidly developing, with scrape-offs transforming small houses into packed-in condos. This has accelerated the area’s development with lots of shops, restaurants, and other small businesses moving in. Just across the street from The Grateful Gnome the Oriental Theater remains a neighborhood staple, and two other breweries (De Steeg and Call to Arms) are within a block. The area is great for strolling and with parking at a premium, it’s easiest to find a spot and leave the car for a walk.

STANDOUT BEER: I can’t say that I found one on this visit. All the beers I tried were pleasant but nothing really jumped out as special.

Weekend Beer Update

It’s a festival-filled weekend from the Front Range to the mountains, with three big fests rolling out the welcome mat. However if festivals aren’t your style, the weekend also offers plenty of options from music to brewery-hopping to food-focused events.

Thursday 10 – Saturday 12: Celebrate eight years of sour beers at Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project. Starting Thursday Crooked Stave will offer special beer releases, unique guest beers, food, and commemorative merch.

Thursday 10 – Saturday 12: If you can handle the weekend ski 20160721_201225_HDRcrowds, take a ride up to the Breckenridge Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival for brewing seminars, beer dinners, pairings, homebrew competitions and of course lots and lots of big beers! The main tasting event is Saturday afternoon, with the competitions, seminars, and food events going throughout the weekend. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Friday 11: In the Tennyson neighborhood, the Northwest Beer Fest takes over the Oriental Theater with beers from ten local breweries along with wine and cider. Note: This is a ticketed event.

20180212_171117_HDRSaturday 12: Celebrate five years of beer with Kokopelli Beer Company and enjoy their award-winning beers along with a special release, swag and prizes.

Saturday 12: The LowDown Barrel-Aged Beer Festival comes to South Broadway with 14 brews including several from Lowdown plus eight guest breweries. This festival is a bit different, as you pay for your beers as you go vs. getting one all-in ticket.

Saturday 12: Hop on the January edition of the West Side Brewery Bus Loop which will visit Little Machine Beer, Zuni Street Brewing Co., Joyride Brewing Company and this month’s special guest Briar Common Brewery. From 2 – 10 p.m. a bus will circulate between all the breweries. Tickets are $5 and you get a free future beer for completing all four breweries. This ride’s theme is 1980’s-1990’s.

Saturday 12: Get your gourmet fix at Living The Dream Brewery’s Charcuterie at the Brewery. From 3 – 4:30 p.m. enjoy a pairing of five beers with specialty meats and cheeses from Whole Foods. Note: This is a ticketed event (buy at the door).20180527_134218_HDR

Sunday 13: Bring a dish to share and enjoy live music at SomePlace Else Brewery’s Thom & Coley Concert and Potluck. It appears that the duo plays country music. The fun starts at 6 p.m. Note: This is a ticketed event.

Sunday 13: Enjoy food and music starting at noon at this month’s Bluegrass Brunch brought to you by Station 26 Brewing Co.

Brewery Snapshot: Denver Beer Co. Arvada Taproom

Similar to the Highlands location, the Arvada outpost of Denver Beer Co. (DBC) boasts a trendy look & location but comes out bland where the beer is concerned. Although DBC Arvada has its own brewing system, I didn’t notice an appreciable difference in the style or taste of the beers vs. the Denver location.

BEER LINEUP: On our visit the tap list trended lighter with plenty of wheats, kolsches, and IPAs plus a handful of slightly darker and specialty brews. Dark-beer-lovers will find a limited selection but DBC has options for most every taste. As always, the beers seemed pleasant but plain and stripped of flavor. Although many have ambitious names involving pretzels or graham crackers, everything I tried had only the faintest hint of those flavors.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom and large, pleasant patio20180527_170906_HDR on the corner of Olde Wadsworth and Ralston Road encourage relaxed lingering, particularly in the summer. A food truck parked inside the taproom serves tasty burgers and similar fare. It’s clear that a lot of design and thought went into equipping the taproom with a  combination of modern and retro for a trendy feel. The overall vibe seemed relaxed, with a younger crowd chilling in hang-out mode on a pleasant weekend afternoon. The taproom allows dogs and, on our visit, even a local pig (seriously).

SERVICE: The Arvada location beats its Denver sibling hands-down. The bar-only service was very fast, friendly and without attitude.

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NEIGHBORHOOD: The taproom location at the corner of Old Wadsworth and Ralston Road offers a convenient starting, ending, or midpoint for a day spent wandering Olde Town Arvada or cobbling together a brewery/taproom crawl. Olde Town offers convenient street and lot parking (watch the time limits) along with great bike and public transit connections.

STANDOUT BEER: Nothing I tried really jumped out.

Brewery Snapshot: SomePlace Else Brewery

If you’re not familiar with Arvada, the effort of finding SomePlace Else Brewery can leave you jonesing for a beer, and fortunately Someplace Else stocks a wide variety of styles to satisfy your craving. The inviting interior offers a haven for Star Wars lovers with character cutouts lording over the taproom and themed beer names like Darth Saison.

BEER LINEUP: Someplace Else features a diverse lineup from light pilsners to dark stouts. Some track closely to the advertised style while others add subtle new flavors. Regardless, all of the beers I tried were flavorful and tasty.

ATMOSPHERE: Fun and quirky. The brewery crams a lot into the narrow industrial space including a rustic bar, pinball games, popcorn, and their tiny brewing system, while Star Wars characters observe the action from the balcony. The indoor space offers decent seating and also hosts unique events, such as the Intro to Sewing class the day we visited. Although the parking lot doesn’t really allow a patio, the open garage doors help bring the outdoors in.20180527_143822_hdr.jpg

SERVICE: Our server offered friendly and knowledgeable bar service while deftly serving the beers with an ironic, or perhaps thrifty, spin. All the beers 20180527_134925_hdr.jpgcame in glasses with major-label logos corresponding to the beer style (i.e. my stout came in a Guinness glass).

NEIGHBORHOOD: The industrial surroundings won’t win any charm awards, sandwiched between railroad tracks and I-76. Because of the limited access, getting to SomePlace Else takes decent navigation skills and parking is kind of scattered around, but available. Additionally, I didn’t see any food places nearby and there was no food truck so if you think you’ll want food, it’s probably best to BYO. Bottom line: this is a destination brewery, not a neighborhood one.

STANDOUT BEER: Padme Pilser. This light-colored and light-bodied beer offered perfect refreshment after biking to the brewery on a sunny 80-degree day. The crisp, fresh flavor with light hopping and a mild malt aftertaste might not be an all-weather choice but it surely hits the spot on a summer day.

Arvada Bike Loop

This short ride combines both trail and street riding and can potentially pack in a lot of brews in one afternoon. If you need sustenance along the way or want to offset the beer, both Kline’s and Denver Beer Co. have kitchens and Odyssey generally schedules a food truck.

The ride starts at Kline’s Beer Hall in Olde Town Arvada, which features a wide range of beer styles on their 50+ taps. A majority of the beers originate in Colorado but many hail from further away and provide more than enough options for every taste. On a Sunday afternoon the place was rather dead but looks big enough accomodate a lively crowd for the frequent live music shows on weekends. A small shaded patio out front offers a relaxing summer alternative as well. After trying a few interesting selections there, our group decided to move on to our second destination, Someplace Else.

Fortunately one of our group lives in Arvada and planned out the route, as SomePlace Else Brewery is hidden down an alley in an industrial park near I-76 & 52nd Ave. To get there we headed east out of Old Town on Grandview, took a right on Lamar, and kept a close watch for the small Brewery banner on the left just before 52nd Ave.

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Look for the alley with the brewery banner

After locking our bikes we enjoyed the cozy, rustic, Star Wars-themed atmosphere of the small brewery along with the great service and most importantly the diverse taplist. The brews ranged from a very light pilsner to stouts and a porter and everyone in our group enjoyed what they tried. Unfortunately SomePlace Else doesn’t have a patio, but the open garage doors helped to bring summer indoors. Continue reading “Arvada Bike Loop”

Brewery Snapshot: Kokopelli Beer Company

Depending on where you live, Kokopelli Beer Company is either a go-to brewery and restaurant easily accessed off main roads, or a frustrating grind through city traffic to the old Westminster Mall. Regardless, if you make the journey you’ll find the ample & diverse beer selection combined with the great food make it worthwhile.

BEER LINEUP: With a menu listing over two dozen 20180212_171117_hdr.jpgbeers it would be difficult not to find something in your style. The taplist ranges from very light to very dark & boozy, with detours through fruit beers and even some guest ciders and sours. Kokopelli does seem to favor flavored beers like Leia Lime Lager and Razzmatazz Chocolate Raspberry Stout but you’ll find standard IPAs, reds, and ales too.

ATMOSPHERE: The atmosphere tends toward a more relaxed family environment than many breweries. Perhaps because of the focus on both food and beer, the taproom has more of a quiet restaurant feel with an older crowd, as well as some kids. Kokopelli has taken over the storefront next door so combined with the existing patio there’s plenty of space for larger groups to spread out and play some of their bar games. Kokopelli’s kitchen also turns out highly-rated food from a rather extensive menu for a brewpub.

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SERVICE: Kokopelli offers both bar and table service, which we found efficient, friendly, and very knowledgeable. After a few tasters the server seemed to drill into our preferences and started suggesting appropriate next-beers, and even mixed a couple of beers to get a flavor profile that one of our party liked.

LOCATION: Like many in the Denver area, the taproom is tucked into a strip mall, right 20180212_175021_hdr.jpgacross from the flattened Westminster Mall. Aside from convenience to major roads and ample parking there’s nothing compelling about the suburban location.

STANDOUT BEER: The Sassy Saison was spicy and heavy on the coriander and orange peel, but balanced by the dryness that the Belgian yeast provided. According to the server, that unique variety of Belgian yeast does all the flavor work; the brewer added no spices to the beer. The saison has a typical rust-orange color and medium body that keeps the focus on the flavor.

Brewery News: Lady Justice Brewing Company starts distribution

20180214_111206_HDRUntil now Lady Justice Brewing Company has produced their small-batch beers in their Mountain View facility and only distributed at special events and to Community Supported Brewery members in limited quantities. Starting tomorrow, Feb 17, Lady Justice Beer will now be available on tap at Factotum Brewhouse in the Sunnyside neighborhood.

Lady Justice is a woman-owned brewery 20180214_111153_HDRfocused on donating all profits to Colorado-based organizations promote the status and opportunity of women and girls. In addition to having a great mission, I’ve sampled a number of their beers and would wholeheartedly recommend Lady Justice on the merits of their beer alone.  Check out their website for more about what they do, or to become a Community Supported Brewery member.