Brewery Snapshot: New Image Brewing Co.

At first glance New Image Brewing Co. seems to have a lot of potential, with its convenient location at the edge of Olde Town Arvada, its sleek modern look, and a trendy-sounding menu. However that starts to fall apart soon after setting foot inside when it becomes apparent that things are not really all that put together. Perhaps it’s that New Image is trying to be too many things at once – modern industrial and trendy, old-world handcrafted brews, restaurant, bar, hippie hangout. They definitely have some talent in making experimental beers but the rest of the experience feels equally experimental – from the service to the food things just don’t seem to come together. If you’re in the area it is worth a stop for a quick beer but don’t expect much else beyond a slightly confused experience.

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BEER LINEUP: You’re unlikely to find traditional styles here. New Image focuses on non-traditional styles with various ingredients, experimental yeasts, and a high representation of sour and brett-influenced beers. Funky and eclectic might best fit the taplist.If you can’t embrace that, New Image does offer Olde Town Regular which is a drinkable basic lager

ATMOSPHERE: Confused. The decor says modern industrial trendy with metal & wood but the menus say handcrafted food & beer while the waitstaff says whacked-out & stoned. Nevertheless it seemed like a neighborhood drop-in with plenty of families at long picnic-style tables.

SERVICE: Slow and poor. All food orders went in at the same time but came out whenever. Some of our table finished eating before others were served, and the consensus on the food was “Meh” – bland and unexceptional. Likewise when checks were requested some were brought, others not, the waiter would wander over and collect one or two at a time, bring back one person’s change then wander off somewhere else. It was not a busy or hectic afternoon where that might be understandable.

NEIGHBORHOOD: New Image is at the edge of Old Town Arvada so it’s a very walkable area with lots of other small businesses. You can find nearby street or lot parking.

STANDOUT BEER: Timber Rye Wine With Rosemary has a great balance starting with a base that tastes a little of barleywine, complemented with a gentle rye flavor and strong rosemary. As one might expect it comes with a higher alcohol content and the thicker body of a barleywine.

Brewery Snapshot: Brewery Rickoli

Stuck in a somewhat inconspicuous location in Wheat Ridge, Brewery Rickoli nevertheless seems to work on a lot of levels. Maybe the modest location gives it that comfortable neighborhood/community vibe, or perhaps it’s the heavy presence of owner/brewer Rick Abitbol’s personality in the brewery – from tweaks to traditional recipes to the quirky beer names. Rickoli keeps a good rotation of the old standbys on tap and adds new creations to keep things interesting. In my book, Rickoli gets extra credit for making gluten-free beers without making a big deal of it, likely because their beers actually taste really good and don’t need the “gluten-free” tag to draw customers. Although Rickoli may sound a little out of the way, it’s really just minutes from downtown and well worth the drive.
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BEER LINEUP: Rickoli covers the spectrum of traditional styles from cream ale to imperial stout and also ventures into experimental beers like a barrel-soured red. Even the traditional styles often have a slight twist – an extra ingredient or different brewing process – like their vanilla rye. Best of all, the changes generally seem to enhance the beer rather than detract (unlike some places around town).

ATMOSPHERE: Given the location in a strip mall the physical space is unsurprising and boxy containing a bar, some basic tables and chairs, and a popcorn machine. The vibe is very community-oriented with the bartender seeming to know most of the crowd and families stopping by. The place felt very relaxed like a neighborhood hangout. Rickoli also furnishes a small patio out front.

SERVICE: Outstanding. The server was extremely friendly and welcoming. He went out of his way to make personalized sampling suggestions based on beers we previously tried and admired.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Rickoli is located in a tired strip mall next to a pot shop in a neighborhood of similar buildings. Not really walking territory. Near the corner of 38th & Wadsworth, driving or Uber may be the best transportation option and happily Rickoli features plenty of parking, along with easy access to I70 and Wadsworth.

STANDOUT BEER: In keeping with the “beer with a twist” theme, the two standout beers for me were McGoats, which adds oats to their regular rye beer, and the aforementioned vanilla rye. McGoats has a medium body and the oats serve to mellow out some of the potential rye harshness for a roasty, malty beer giving hints of chocolate, smoke and a mild rye bite. The real twist is a yeast that adds an herbal, minty flavor and aftertaste. The Vanilla in yo’Rye was a pleasant surprise with a solid rye base and a good dose of vanilla flavor. The flavor goes light on rye with just enough to add structure, and heavy notes of vanilla to make for a comforting winter beer.