Brewery Snapshot: Lone Tree Brewing Co.

One of the many south-suburban breweries, Lone Tree Brewing Co. serves up a wide selection of traditional and unique beers, plus activities like fitness classes (with cool-down beers of course) to the Highlands Ranch crowd.

BEER LINEUP: Lone Tree offers an interesting menu that contains a few standard styles like red, IPA, and lager but mostly offers unusual variants and flavors of beer such as pumpkin, horchata, vanilla-caramel and even a dill IPA (tastier than it sounds – seriously). Traditionalists might not be happy here but if you are into mixing it up with beer flavors than give Lone Tree a taste.

ATMOSPHERE: The spacious taproom opens to the brewing tanks and features woodsy decor and plenty of places to gather with friends including a patio and pet/child-free zone. On a weeknight the quiet atmosphere was only broken by the boot-camp workout taking place in a side room of the facility. Other than the boot-campers the crowd seemed to be a mellow, suburban, older, after-work crowd. I’d expect on a weekend you’ll find more Highlands Ranch families and a different vibe, along with more dogs since Lone Tree is dog-friendly.20180129_163411_hdr.jpg

SERVICE: The bartender was reasonably efficient and friendly but really stood out when it came to beer knowledge. Ask a few questions and you’re liable to get some truly in-depth explanations of each ingredient in each beer, why it’s there, and what it does.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The area has a few small businesses but is a typical light-industrial park packed in close to the highway. You can order out for food or visit the food truck, but unless you decide to do some tipsy-shopping at nearby Furniture Row, Lone Tree is pretty much a destination point. As expected, parking is ample.

20180129_172049_hdr.jpgSTANDOUT BEER: Lone Tree’s Nelson Sauvin Lager is one of the most interesting and complex beers that I’ve encountered in a while. Made with New Zealand hops (thanks informative bartender!) the light-colored and light-bodied beer has a lot going on. The color and body are all pilsner but the flavor serves up white wine crispness and champagne dryness, with only mild hop bitterness, followed by some grassy and mineral undertones.

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: Blue Spruce Brewing Company

Buried deep in suburbia-land in a quiet strip mall at County Line and Colorado, Blue Spruce Brewing Company wouldn’t seem particularly promising on the surface, however the breadth and quality of their beer combined with their food menu provides 20180105_192628_HDRa welcome surprise.

BEER LINEUP: Blue Spruce features a full range of traditional styles from cream ale to brown with all the steps in between. They also offer modestly different takes on the standards such as an apricot blonde and a vanilla porter. All the beers I tried were well-made and generally true to style. For non-beer-drinkers Blue Spruce carries a small selection of wine and hard liquor.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom definitely draws from Highlands Ranch, with lots of families and a laid back atmosphere that winds down shockingly early in the evening. This brewery is clearly outside the hipster zone. The rustic communal bench seating, small bar, and heated patio provide a welcoming atmosphere to relax, eat, and of course drink. Blue Spruce also features a full kitchen with an extensive and tasty menu and occasionally bands.20180105_192716_hdr.jpg

SERVICE: Uneven. The bartender was great – engaging, informed, and efficient. The table service, not so much. We never went thirsty but we did watch our server aimlessly cruise around the dining area while we tried to flag him down, and most every interaction involved some kind of confusing interjection.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Definitely the ‘burbs. Blue Spruce sits at the far end of a retail strip mall surrounded by housing. It can be hard to see, as it’s located below Dry Creek’s street level but once you find it you’ll also find ample parking. There’s little else to do in the immediate area.

STANDOUT BEER: Serrano Sunrise Chili Beer. I’m a sucker for chili beers and this one stands out above most. With medium heat and a slight roasted-pepper taste laid over what appeared to be a copper-colored Vienna Lager, the Serrano Sunrise made for a pleasant and complex beer with just the right amount balance of heat and flavor. Though not particularly hot, it must have offended many Highlands Ranchers, as the servers are comically obsessed with making you try a sample before you order if you say you’ve not had it previously.

Brewery Snapshot: The Brew On Broadway

Part of the renaissance of The South Broadway Mile in Englewood, The Brew on Broadway (BoB) nicely complements the neighborhood of small retail business, restaurants, and The Gothic Theater. BoB’s comfortable taproom and large patio fit right in with the pedestrian-friendly vibe of the area and encourage a stop for a quick pint.

BEER LINEUP: BoB’s beers are not overly adventurous but each offers a generally pleasant experience of its style. The menu clusters around IPAs and fills out both ends of the spectrum with a few examples of both light and dark beers along with a few speciality beers like a sour, and imperial stout, and a seasonal Thanksgiving porter.

ATMOSPHERE: The good-sized taproom offers 20171209_152459_hdr.jpgvarious seating options including couches and feels like an industrial/ rustic combination with lots of exposed brick and wood. Outside there’s a large patio with a firepit. The mixed crowd seemed neighborhood-based with families, couples, and friends kicking back on a sleepy Saturday afternoon. BoB also appears to be dog-friendly based on the number of pooches running around.

SERVICE: BoB offers bar service only and the staff was reasonably efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Englewood has focused on making the surrounding neighborhood pedestrian- and small-business-friendly so there are plenty of shops and restaurants to browse if you want to combine beer with other pursuits. The area has reasonable street parking and BoB offers a small lot in back.

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STANDOUT BEER: Although it’s a bit gimmicky, the Thanksgiving Stuffing Spiced Porter was the most interesting beer I tried. Unlike some flavored beers, the spices were not overwhelming and provided a pleasant kick to a solid porter base with distinct malt and subtle chocolate flavors. The color and body were as-expected for a porter.

Sunday Funday South Suburban Ride

On a sleepy summer Sunday we ventured out on bikes along the wooded Highline Canal to visit three great south suburban breweries. The ride was slightly longer than usual and we had to tackle a few big hills but the tasty beers made it all worthwhile! Most of the ride is on-trail, with much of it on the scenic canal, although part of the route uses the C470 trail, which currently has major construction. The trails switch between packed gravel and concrete so road bikes may find it challenging. A good map app is essential, as the route features loads of twists and turns.
Starting at Halfpenny Brewing Company near Arapahoe & Holly, we enjoyed the mostly American- and German-style beers in the new biergarden (out back past the brewing equipment). The patio can get hot since it’s really just a fenced-off section of parking lot 20170315_185333_HDRwith a partial sun shade, but hopefully when the hops grow up it’ll have more atmosphere. For beer, you’ll mostly find comfortable, traditional beers with a sprinkling of experimental stuff like Lichtenhainer smoked-sour (Seedstock collaboration) and a Cherry Cardamom Wheat. The staff was all super-friendly and helpful and our big group had no problem finding space in the large taproom amongst the regulars. If you get hungry, there are several food places in the strip mall, including a pizza joint.
Next we headed off to Three Freaks Brewing near Park Meadows. The ride was absolutely beautiful and very peaceful along the Highline Canal and local streams, with amazing voyeuristic views of swanky Cherry Hills Village mansions. The end turned somewhat less peaceful, as we navigated the sun-baked C470 trail with traffic whizzing by. Just past Quebec look for the strip mall on your right with Le Peep and Egg Roll King. Go past the building and you’ll find a trail into their parking lot.

Continue reading “Sunday Funday South Suburban Ride”

Brewery Snapshot: Resolute Brewing Company

Hidden in the midst of DTC office parks near I25 and Arapahoe, Resolute Brewing nonetheless manages to draw crowds to its taproom and patio. Perhaps it’s the lack of breweries in the area but more likely because Resolute makes solid beers which are served by friendly and knowledgeable staff in a comfortable taproom.

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BEER LINEUP: Solid if not overly adventurous. Resolute brews a wide variety of styles without a lot of experimentation so generally what you see is what you get, and the beers conform to the styles listed. Resolute’s beer list covers the spectrum so most everyone ought to be able to find a brew in their favorite style.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom feels like a community gathering place, with groups of friends clustered at communal tables surrounding a circular bar showing off numerous taps. If the modern taproom gets too loud or crowded, you can also move out to the shady deck this time of year. Resolute is also dog-friendly.

SERVICE:  Depending on how busy the taproom is, you may get table service or you might have to go to the bar. Either way, the very attentive servers provide personal insights and observations to help select beers.

20170428_211601_HDRNEIGHBORHOOD: Tucked into a strip mall with limited parking surrounded by office parks, there’s little ambiance in the surrounding neighborhood. However for those in the DTC it offers a convenient craft-beer stop, usually with a food truck if you get hungry.

STANDOUT BEER:  Wee Heavy. On a chilly night this beer hit the spot. Swirling the dark-copper, opaque beer in the glass shows off its heavy body and prepares you for what’s ahead. The first sip hits with a thick and lingering sweet caramel/molasses taste, interspersed with light hints of raisin and alcohol. While not an everyday beer (at least for most people!), the Wee Heavy fills a great niche when you want a sipping beer to relax with.

 

Brewery Snapshot: 105 West Brewing

For a remote brewery hidden in a quiet industrial park, 105 West Brewing Company packs in some happy surprises. On our visit, crowds of all types filled the taproom and gave it an energetic feel, while the comprehensive beer list delivered both variety and flavor. It’s a bit of a drive from Denver but well worth a stop if you find yourself in Castle Rock or commuting to Colorado Springs, since it’s less than five minutes off the highway.

BEER LINEUP: 105 West sticks to traditional styles and has great coverage from a light wit to a dark stout and high-gravity Tripel. All the beers I tried fit squarely (and tastily) into their named style category so count on getting you ask for.

ATMOSPHERE: Despite the lack of any discernible neighborhood the place was packed with energetic people (and dogs) of all ages including families with kids. The actual space shows an attempt to dress up a basic industrial park box with some rustic wood and an open brewery, but in the end you’re not coming for the pretty decor. There’s also a small patio out front and they seem to regularly have either a food truck or someone squished in between fermenters dishing out grub.

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SERVICE: This one cut both ways during our visit. While the servers helpfully chatted up customers, poured samples, recommended other beers, etc. (+), this tended to jam  up lines at the bar (-). It wasn’t the biggest deal but be warned if you are beer-desperate. One interesting note is the no-tipping policy; any tips go to charity.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Industrial park with few attractions around other than a brew shop two doors down. Given the Castle Rock location this one’s definitely a driving destination and thankfully features ample parking.

STANDOUT BEER: Belgian Tripel. This beer blended great Belgian yeast flavors with a little bit of farmhouse for an extremely balanced and flavorful Tripel having just the slightest bit of sweetness. The beautiful golden color made it even more appealing, and the slight cloudiness visually reinforced the yeast and farmhouse flavors.