Over the weekend I had the opportunity to revisit a couple of breweries that I have reviewed before – Brewability Lab and Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project – and both of them seem to have new and interesting things happening.
Brewability Lab keeps adding events and owner Tiffany works hard to make sure everyone is engaged and having fun in a friendly environment. Last weekend Brewability featured a band, a silent charity auction, and a fundraiser for Mindful Meditation – all at once. The place was packed. In short, there’s always something going on and the solid beers make it a great place to spend a chilly winter afternoon or evening. They’ve also started serving their Coffee Porter in Nutella-rimmed glasses for those with a sweet tooth.
Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project keeps serving up truly interesting world-inspired beers and each time I stop by there are several new and wild ones. Some of my favorites current favorites are:
- Chicha, which is a corn-based beer with sweetness reminiscent of the South American beverage of the same name
- Turkish Coffee Stout, which combines rich roasted malt and coffee flavors, pretty much as advertised in the name.
- BA Imperial Turkish Coffee Stout, a spiced-up and boozed-up version of the coffee stout. It adds pepper, mace and other spices to create an intense and savory effect. I found it slightly addictive but was also happy I followed the bartender’s recommendation and got a short pour.
Definitely give anything here a try before you jump into a pint because many of the beers have a strong flavor profile. The only disappointment was, like my first visit, a noticeable lack of patrons. Although the bartender injected some energy into the place, it felt a little dead so my recommendation would be to bring some friends with you when you go!
The Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project brings a new and innovative approach to Denver by brewing internationally-inspired beers. Some beers originate from unique foreign styles, others use foreign ingredients, and some are inspired by international flavors. The genesis of this super-experimental approach is the head brewer’s foreign travels along with his interest in foreign cultures and history. Based on our group’s reaction during our visit, some of the experiments are hits and others, well, not so much. But I guess that’s the whole point of experimenting!
BEER LINEUP: The menu runs the gamut of foreign styles from familiar Czech Pilsner, to lesser-known ones such as Finnish Sahti. The brewery also features beer and food combinations like a Garlic Amber, Chamomile Hefe-Wit, and Basil IPA. Chances are you’ll find something comfortable and familiar, but you are assured of finding a bunch of interesting and unusual flavors as well if you feel adventurous.
ATMOSPHERE: The taproom is furnished in the typical Colorado-outdoorsy style and features loads of games along with travel and cookbooks to help complement the theme. On the evening we were there it was pretty quiet with a handful of people in the bar at any one time. Intrepid Sojourner also offers a patio. Check their calendar for occasional food trucks and frequent beer specials.
SERVICE: With only a few patrons the service was fast and attentive and the server was seemed pretty happy chatting everyone up. She also provided helpful thoughts on the beers as we contemplated our orders.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Intrepid Sojourner is in the same artsy S. Santa Fe neighborhood as several other breweries, along with art galleries and restaurants so you can certainly make an afternoon or evening out of strolling around. After dark it feels a little deserted, but not really dangerous and regardless of the hour you can generally find street parking on a side street or in the brewery’s small lot. Note: On the First Friday Art Walk all parking hopes go out the window!
STANDOUT BEER: Garlic Amber. Perhaps not strictly the best beer, this one stands out for innovation. Garlic in a beer is so unique I had to try it. The end result is a beer with the amber/copper and light/medium body represented the typical amber style, but it seemed like the garlic accentuated the hops rather than standing out much on its own.
Boggy Draw Brewery is all about personality – primarily that of Beef, the owner. The name comes from his favorite hunting area in Southern Colorado and the rustic taproom is filled with outdoorsy memorabilia. If you’re lucky enough to be there when Beef’s working you can’t miss him and his outsized enthusiasm. Of course atmosphere is only one part of a brewery and fortunately it doesn’t get in the way of good beer. It’s hard to categorize Boggy Draw’s style other than saying it’s worth stopping in to try. Oh yeah, and for bonus points – they’re one of the few breweries to have Happy Hour!
BEER LINEUP: The day I visited, the taplist tilted toward English-style beers, pale ales, and IPAs but Boggy Draw frequently rotates in new and interesting beers and only has a few standard beers. It’s unfair to set a specific expectation other than they always have a good number of beers that cover a reasonable spectrum so everyone ought to find something interesting.
ATMOSPHERE: Boggy Draw definitely has a good ‘ol boy theme and, unique among craft breweries, seems to draw more of that crowd than the hipster hordes. Starting with Beef and working on down, the staff and regulars seemed very relaxed and outgoing. The taproom has a hunting-lodge feel with lots of wood including tree-trunk tables and hunting trophies on the wall.
SERVICE: Enthusiastic. The staff was super-happy to promote their beer, give information, and explain a manner of things beer-related or otherwise. The bartender went out of his way to create a personalized tasting list and explain in detail why he organized it as he did.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Tucked in an office park behind the River Point development at Hampden and Santa Fe, Boggy Draw is easy to see from Hampden but relatively challenging to get to (though efforts WILL be rewarded!). You can easily walk from the Regal Theater and other closeby businesses and there’s plenty of parking. River Point is definitely not an exciting area and if you’re there it’s probably for a specific destination. Additionally, if you want a break while biking the Platte River Trail a visit only takes you a couple minutes out of the way.
STANDOUT BEER: Stuck Truck Dunkelweizen. For a darkish beer, it drinks unexpectedly light. With an almost opaque reddish-toffee color I didn’t expect something similar to a Hefeweizen (even though the bartender specifically mentioned it). The banana esters were forward and backed by a solid malt base touched by a small bite of hops. Even on a hot day there’s no need to be scared of this dark.
This walk near the Santa Fe Arts District
visits one of the older craft breweries in Denver and one of the newer ones. It also has the option of tacking on a third brewery.
I started at Renegade Brewing
on 9th between Santa Fe and Kalamath, but I’d suggest starting wherever you find a parking spot. Renegade has been around for a number of years and has the standard urban taproom vibe – lots of steel & glass, garage doors, a patio, and an open brewing area. Traditionally I’ve found them to be Pale Ale/IPA-focused but on this visit they had broadened their offerings to include things like Pancakes
maple porter and Hummer
imperial pumpkin spiced Oktoberfest . I mostly found their beers solid but not exceptional with a couple standouts. Despite being open many years Renegade still draws the crowds and has an energetic and hipster vibe. Like with past experiences, the service was very hit or miss.
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