Brewery Snapshot: Alternation Brewing Company

Although open a relatively short time (Dec ’17), Alternation Brewing Company has established a presence on South Broadway with a large and solid taplist and active taproom. One would think that South Broadway already has more than enough breweries, but Alternation has staked out their own neighborhood and filled a gap between Black Project and Grandma’s House, making them perfect for a Broadway brewery crawl.

BEER LINEUP: For a relatively new brewery, Alternation offers 20180317_171056_HDRa broad taplist of approximately 10 beers ranging from hefeweizen on the light end, through IPA, all the way to stout on the dark end. There is a definite Belgian focus – saisons, farmhouses, dubbels. All the beers I tried were solid and tasty, though perhaps not 100% style-specific.

ATMOSPHERE: Given that we visited on St Patrick’s Day things may have been a little crazier than usual. The narrow taproom features three small sections: a bar area, a seating area in the brew tanks, and a newly-opened outdoor patio with games. All three areas were  energetic on St Pat’s, with people spilling onto Broadway for the food truck and heading to the patio for the bands. Overall, Alternation has a friendly vibe and we watched as the afternoon family crowd gave way to the younger brewery-hopping crowd in the evening.

SERVICE: Hard to judge, given the holiday crowds but overall the servers were efficient and pleasant even in the face of green-clad, beer-loving hordes.

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Tanks, Band, Patio

NEIGHBORHOOD: Parked right in the middle of Antique Row, Alternation lends itself to a leisurely few hours of shopping, dining, or brewery-hopping at nearby establishments. The area is most definitely pedestrian-friendly, transit-friendly, and even has reasonable street parking options.

STANDOUT BEER: Cooper Approved Oatmeal Stout. C’mon, could there be anything else on St. Pat’s? Seriously, the deep chocolate and roasted malt flavors in this beer would be good any day and were enhanced by the low carbonation. The typical dark-brown color gave way to a thinner body than might be expected, but not that unusual.

Brewery Snapshot: Halfpenny Brewing Company

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.

20180122_180251_HDRATMOSPHERE: 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 in20180122_171444_HDR 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.

Brewery Snapshot: Golden City Brewery

Even though it’s 20 minutes from Denver, Golden City Brewery makes you feel a little like you’re in a small mountain town. Set in a neighborhood of old houses with a large patio and foothills views, Golden City offers a bit of an escape from hectic city life for a few hours. Of course, knocking back a few of their solid beers doesn’t hurt either!

BEER LINEUP: The menu features all the standards from golden to stout with everything in between, plus a few more adventurous beers like a sour and saison. All the beers I tried were enjoyable, though maybe not 100% true to style.

ATMOSPHERE: The overall atmosphere was 20180106_143918_HDRreally chill and given the proximity the the School of Mines there was a big college crowd. The indoor taproom is very tiny but fortunately when we were there it was nice enough to relax on the huge dog-friendly outdoor patio. The patio offers great views and also some gas fireplaces to take the chill off. If you are hungry, Golden City offers a very limited menu consisting 20180106_143034_HDRof brats and chips.

SERVICE: Very friendly but not terribly efficient. Customers line up at a single counter to order so if someone is sampling or getting chatty it can take a while. One nice feature is the outdoor ordering window for those on the patio. Note: For a brewery Golden City closes rather early – 6:30 or 7:30 depending on the day.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Golden City resides just a few blocks away from Golden’s main business district in a sleepy residential neighborhood of Victorian homes. It makes for a great afternoon to combine a few beers with a stroll to do some shopping or grab a bite to eat. If you only have time to pop in for a quick one, though, the neighborhood also has 20180106_150906_HDRplenty of free parking.

STANDOUT BEER: Lookout Stout. I really couldn’t ask for a better winter beer. The beer was so dark it was almost black and offered up strong rich malty flavors backed by some cocoa. Definitely something to cozy up with on a chilly day. The only (slight) disappointment was that for such a dark and intense beer the consistency was thinner than a typical stout.

Brewery Snapshot: Blue Moon Brewing Company

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.20170803_193906_HDR

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.

Brewery Snapshot: Living the Dream Brewery

With its location at the edge of the suburbs, Living The Dream Brewery may be a hard sell for city folk but the beer selection makes it worth the trip. It makes a great weekend afternoon destination, where you can grab something from the food truck and kick back on one of their patios with few beers. It also works well for a Littleton pub crawl, as there are at least four other breweries nearby along the Santa Fe corridor.

BEER LINEUP:  Variety is the name of the game at Living The Dream. They put out styles ranging from a light Belgian wheat up through several IPAs to a dark, full-bodied coffee stout. Along the way they take some creative detours like a strawberry wheat and Belgian cherry.

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Rainy Day on the Back Patio

ATMOSPHERE: This definitely seems to be the Highlands Ranch hangout. During our rainy visit the industrial-minimalist taproom was packed with families, large groups, and dogs, and light on the hipster crowd often found at downtown breweries.  No doubt during nicer weather people spread out onto the patios and the taproom becomes much less chaotic. Living the Dream has a decent-sized front patio adjacent to the parking lot and food truck, and a large back patio with pleasant mountain views. I believe the back patio is also 21+ so maybe a haven for those looking to avoid the kiddos running around the taproom.

SERVICE: You’ll need to go to the bar for a beer and while not exactly speedy the servers are friendly.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Like many breweries, Living the Dream located themselves in an industrial park area. It can be a bit tricky to pick the correct turn off of Santa Fe and once you find it,  it becomes apparent that Living the Dream the only retail business for far around. Fortunately they usually have a food truck. Most people would consider this a destination brewery and as such, it fortunately has ample parking in the lot and on the street.

 STANDOUT BEER: Cherry McGuire Belgian cherry beer. Very few places make a Belgian kriek-style beer so I always enjoy running across one. With Cherry McGuire, cherry is pretty much all you taste – sweet on the front and a little tart/bitter on the back. While not the best kriek-style beer I’ve had, given the rarity of the style it puts on a good show and stands out from the standard beer styles.

Brewery Snapshot: Joyride Brewing Company

With two walls of open garage doors and a fantastic view of Sloan’s Lake, Joyride Brewing Company’s taproom almost feels like the outdoors. The busy location in downtown Edgewater offers a fair number of beer choices, which you can enjoy in their small backyard beer garden or  sitting at the counter while enjoying the great view and watching life pass by on the busy street corner.20170617_173638_HDR

BEER LINEUP: Much of the lineup looked fairly standard, though favoring lighter, summery brews – a couple IPAs, a Kolsch, a lager, a cream, and a dark beer. They also spice up the mix with seasonals and specialty beers so you might luck into something a little offbeat as well, like my friend did with a mango IPA.

ATMOSPHERE: Busy on a summer Saturday. All of the communal tables and street-facing counters were full of a variety of people from hipsters to families to neighborhood regulars. Even the small outdoor space in back was packed, even in iffy weather. Joyride is most definitely a summer stop, with two20170617_180239_HDR walls of the taproom open to the heat and outward-facing counters for lake views and people-watching. It seems like they always have a food truck, but there are plenty of neighborhood restaurants too.

SERVICE: Despite the busy Saturday afternoon the bartenders seemed in a good mood and happily provided samples and reasonably quick service. It seemed like there was sort-table-service if one of them could work his or her way out from behind the bar, but I wouldn’t count on it.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Old-town Edgewater feels like a small town despite the close proximity to Denver. There are small shops and restaurants to peruse along with Sloan’s Lake for recreation. It’s definitely a place where you could hang out vs. just hitting Joyride. Joyride seems like another small business bringing a key piece of the puzzle to make the neighborhood whole instead of just a hit & run visit.

STANDOUT BEER: So it sounds strange for a summer, but the day had unexpectedly cooled and the Bear Paw Oatmeal Milk Stout really hit the spot. The beer offered a smooth and balanced experience combining forward coffee and chocolate flavors with a more subtle milk flavor. As one would expect, Bear Paw has a thick body and dark color.

Brewery Snapshot: Crazy Mountain Brewing Co.