Cherry Creek Trail Bike Ride

This ride takes in four breweries located just blocks off the Cherry Creek Trail. The mostly flat trail parallels the creek through relaxing natural surroundings and spans the edge of downtown to the city border. All of the stops either serve food, have a food truck, or have adjacent restaurant options.

We met at Crazy Mountain Brewery in Glendale, which pours a handful of their own beers along with numerous guest taps plus a little wine and liquor. On our early -afternoon visit the place was virtually dead and offered a chill way to start the day. The taproom offers patio seating but with the southwestern exposure and the already-hot day we skipped the patio for the indoor shade and A/C.

Leaving Crazy Mountain, we crossed Cherry Creek South Drive and headed down the ramp at Colorado Bouldevard to catch the Cherry Creek Trail northbound toward downtown. This part of the ride gets more city-like as it passes Cherry Creek Mall, heads under University, and parallels Speer Boulevard. We exited up the Lincoln Avenue ramp, headed one block west to Broadway, then directly south for about 2 blocks until we arrived at Banded Oak on our left.dsc06358.jpg

Banded Oak Brewing Co. has a very small seating area indoors so our group landed on the large, shaded patio with misters to help stay cool. The brewery focuses on wine-barrel-aged beers but also has a handful of standard styles that they usually keep on tap. We agreed that the barrel-aged beers were the stars but had to be careful due to their high gravity and the remaining ride to two more breweries. Continue reading “Cherry Creek Trail Bike Ride”

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Or as Copper Kettle Brewing Company calls them, the Twelve Firkins of Christmas . . .

Forget about silly lords-a-leaping or turtle doves – this’ll get you in the Christmas spirit! Image result for christmas art public domainToday through Christmas Eve Copper Kettle continues their longstanding practice of releasing a firkin a day to count down to the holiday. It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions and the menu looks to give everyone at least one beer to be thankful for this season!

  • 12/13 Black Berliner Weisse w/ Blackberries
  • 12/14 Gingerbread Latte
  • 12/15 Bourbon Barrel Aurora Strong
  • 12/16 Key Lime Wit
  • 12/17 Imperial Smoked Porter
  • 12/18 Passionfruit Charlie’s Golden Strong 
  • 12/19 Eggnog Stout
  • 12/20 Mocha IPA
  • 12/21 Imperial Cafe Con Leche
  • 12/22 Basil Cherry Blond
  • 12/23 Golden Stout (Imperial Cream Ale with Chocolate and Lactose)
  • 12/24 Christmas Spice Strong Ale

Brewery Snapshot: Dry Dock Brewing South Dock

As one of the more established and medal-winning craft brewers in Denver, Dry Dock Brewing just celebrated their 12th anniversary and while you can find a few of their staple beers in bars and liquor stores throughout Denver, their taproom has a wealth of additional beers. The original South Dock is attached to the Brew Hut, which offers a wealth of home-brewing & winemaking supplies and advice.

BEER LINEUP: As Dry Dock has grown, their beer lineup has matured and today provides something for everyone, from traditional light styles to dark, plus specialty beers like sours, seasonals, and fruit beers including their famous Apricot Blonde

ATMOSPHERE: Over the years Dry Dock has expanded their taproom multiple times from a Brew Hut closet and their mountain-lodge-style taproom generally buzzes with activity. The feeling is comfortable and friendly, with guests hanging out chatting, playing games, and making new friends at the bench-style tables. The only critique is that it can get a bit loud inside, although they also offer a reasonable patio in front of the taproom.

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Medal Scroll of Fame

SERVICE: Always great. The staff seems like they are having fun and the feeling rubs off on the whole environment. They’re always very engaging and informative regarding the beer selection and quick to offer suggestions and opinions.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Tucked on the far side of Cherry Creek Reservoir, the South Dock can be a hike for those not in Aurora or Southeast Denver, with access from I225 and Parker Road. The surrounding area is typical suburbia with single-family homes and strip malls, and the strip-mall-heavy corner where Dry Dock sits provides lots of parking along with restaurants offering takeout or delivery since Dry Dock has no onsite food.  The neighborhood doesn’t offer many reasons to linger unless you also have a few errands to run.

STANDOUT BEER: Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. While some may find this beer a little gimmicky I thought it hit the spot on a cool fall day with rich roast malt combined with dark chocolate and peanut butter. The beer had the appropriate deep-brown color and thickness that one would expect for this type. Truly a well-balanced cold-weather comfort beer!

Calling all Sour and Pumpkin-Lovers

If you’re a lover of the sours or pumpkin beers (no, not sour pumpkin beers because that might be nasty) check out Copper Kettle Brewing this month. After a recent release of sour batches they have about a half-dozen sours currently on tap, though not listed online, but they’re going fast!

Additionally, they’re doing weekly releases of Pumpkin, Gourd, Cucurbit, Squashpumpkin versions of their beers in addition to the Pumpkin Porter that’s on the menu.

  • Oct 11 – Pumpkin Oktoberfest
  • Oct 18 – Pumpkin Saison
  • Oct 25 – Pumpkin Snowed In

Hilly Southeast Ride

This ride packs in a lot of beers and a fair amount of riding, taking you from Glendale to Aurora via Cherry Creek State park using mostly paved trails. There are several big hills and it is exposed so riders need to be in decent shape and keep an eye on the weather.

The ride starts in Glendale at Bull & Bush Brewery , a British-style venue that offers good parking, nice outdoor seating, food, and of course beer! Bull & Bush has been making beer for 20 years and offers a broad range of house-brewed styles along with bottles and drafts from domestic and British brewers. We visited with a large group and the servers were extremely accommodating and efficient, juggling beer and food orders and getting everything right.

From there we crossed the street and headed south on the Cherry Creek Trail til we turned left at Place Bridge Academy, then right onto a trail that aligned us with E Florida Ave and our first big hill of the day. This portion requires the only (brief) street-riding of the day and after crossing Parker Road and turning left on the sidewalk we quickly arrived at Copper Kettle Brewing Co. In comparison with Bull and Bush, Copper Kettle is a stripped-down craft brewery. The taproom and patio are smaller and food comes from takeout or food trucks. However the focus on beer remains and Copper Kettle keeps crowd-pleasers on tap like the light Helles, an IPA or two, and of course their Mexican Chocolate Stout. They also roll out seasonal and experimental beers so you may luck into something adventurous. Continue reading “Hilly Southeast Ride”

Brewery Snapshot: Lost Highway Brewing Company

It would be hard to come up with a more night-and-day relocation than the one Lost Highway just pulled off, moving from gritty, central E. Colfax to a quiet, obscure office park hidden deep in DTC. Earlier this year the owners of Lost Highway Brewing Company and Cheeky Monk sold their E Colfax building to move to greener pastures in the DTC. The brewery reopened a few weeks ago and their beers have lost nothing in the move. Lost Highway still offers high-quality Belgian beers with a few other styles mixed in.

BEER LINEUP: Belgian focus with a sprinkling of other styles like IPAs, a dark, and a light. Basically something for everyone.

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ATMOSPHERE: Much more chill than on Colfax. Mostly a younger crowd hanging out and kicking back with brews. The taproom is smaller than on Colfax, but uncrowded on a weekend evening and the new patio offers additional warm-weather space. Lost Highway doesn’t have a kitchen but does schedule an occasional food truck. Tucked way back in an office park there’s no other food in the area unless you’re into foraging in the nearby meadows.

SERVICE: Friendly and fast. The bartender was knowledgeable about the beers, engaging, and seemed to be having fun with the crowd.

NEIGHBORHOOD: None to speak of. Buried deep in anonymous office and industrial parks you’ll need a good map app to find it, and at night it’s the only light for miles around. You pretty much need a car to get there, but if you want to turn it into a pub crawl there are a few taprooms (Two Penguins Tap and Grill and Growler USA) 5-10 minutes away off Arapahoe Road.

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A beacon of light in the dark DTC night
STANDOUT BEER: Almond Coconut Porter. This beer will not be to everyone’s taste, but it certainly qualifies in the “most interesting” category. The nutty almond flavors blend seamlessly with the slightly-sweet coconut flavors and the underlying roasted malt gives the beer depth of flavor and a full body. The dark color lines up with normal porters and there’s no discernable hoppiness.

Brewery Snapshot: 3 Freaks Brewery

Things are never boring at 3 Freaks Brewing. As a small-system brewer they constantly rotate new batches on tap, and the whole team enjoys experimenting with new recipes. Basically, you’ll always find something new and unusual (generally in a good way). This is also a great place to chat with your server, as they are probably the friendliest in Denver and can give you the lowdown on current pours or something interesting fermenting in the back. The only downside is the Park Meadows location, though I suppose if you’re up for some buzzed shopping afterward . . .

BEER LINEUP: Eclectic comes to mind. 3 Freaks has a relatively small number of taps and with the quick turnover and experimental brewing process you really never know what you’ll find. Generally the experiments turn out well, though, and they usually serve one or two traditional styles for the less-adventurous.

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ATMOSPHERE: Things seem relatively relaxed and low-energy in the taproom. The small interior features cool industrial décor while the pleasant front patio offers shade and comfy patio furniture. The surrounding strip malls offers several food options to bring back.

SERVICE: Super-friendly. It’s apparent from the start that everyone working there is passionate and informed about beer, and most, if not all of the staff takes a hand at brewing. Start chatting with a server and you’ll get a wealth of information.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Soulless Highlands Ranch Strip Mall best describes the scene. Unless 20170625_134437_HDRyou’re foraging for food or get a drunken urge for new jeans at the mall there’s little reason to explore the area. On the plus side,  3 Freaks has ample parking, which you’ll need since this is definitely a drive-to brewery.

STANDOUT BEER: Brad Pitt-less Watermelon Blonde. While chances are good this one’s gone already, if you see it you’ll want to grab a glass before the keg blows. An awesome light-bodied (but honey-colored) beer, this blonde offsets juicy watermelon flavors with a hint of saltiness and sweet maltiness, all riding on a backbone of a solid wheat beer. Truly a pleasant patio-sipping beer! If you miss it here, look for it as a 3 Freaks entry at GABF.