Brewery Snapshot: Dead Hippie Brewing

As most regular readers have figured out, I’m a huge promoter of local craft breweries and always try to give positive reasons to try a particular brewery, even if it’s not my favorite. However, a recent visit to Dead Hippie Brewing left me challenged for reasons to recommend it, particularly in light of the half-dozen or more breweries within a 10-minute drive. The highlight for our entire party was the funky, psychedelic taproom with interesting artwork, jam band artifacts and games – not so much the beer.

BEER LINEUP: The tap list covers a lot of ground, from a blonde through several IPA’s, a few Belgians, and couple of dark beers including a stout.  On the surface it sounds like a winning combination, however as our party worked through several sets of tasters we found that almost every beer seemed to be off to some degree from the style noted. Only a few were unpleasant but the descriptor that came up most frequently for the rest was “meh”.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom epitomizes the brewery’s name, with lots of hippie throwback artwork, Deadhead memorabilia and even pinball machines. The taproom and brewery share the same big and airy space. During our visit they had a jam band (big surprise there) but the mixed crowd of younger and older patrons plus a few families seemed to contain few actual hippies. The vibe was chill and relaxed. Dead Hippie serves snacks but has no kitchen and on our visit there was no food truck.

SERVICE: As one might expect, the service was dead-hippie-bar.jpgrelaxed and casual but friendly. The servers seemed obsessed with clearing empty glasses, but a bit more laid back about actually pouring fresh beers.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Dead Hippie is visible from South Santa Fe Drive but only accessible by driving through the big box hell on the corner of Santa Fe and Hampden Avenue. As a point of reference it’s hidden behind a Michaels. I suppose it could be convenient if you wanted to combine beer with some errands, and Boggy Draw Brewery shares the same retail/light industrial complex if drunk shopping is on your mind. Parking seemed decent and there are several restaurants in the area. The brewery is also close to the South Platte River bike trail so biking could be an option, but public transit seems inconvenient.

STANDOUT BEER: The Smoothed Out Stout is a dry Irish dead-hippie-flight.jpgstout on nitro and on the chilly evening it seemed like a comforting option. The dark color and medium mouthfeel give way to a heavily-roasted malt flavor with noticeable chocolate notes. The nitro kept carbonation low and smoothed the feel on the palate.

Brewery Snapshot : Blind Faith Brewing

The cottage and beer garden may look the same but the name and beer have changed. With St. Patrick’s moving to a distribution-only model, Blind Faith Brewing has taken over their Littleton brewery and taproom. Owned by the same folks as space-constrained De Steeg Brewing, Blind Faith looks to move beyond De Steeg’s Belgian focus into the full spectrum of brews and also take advantage of the Littleton taproom’s generous size and huge garden area. 

BEER LINEUP: On our visit the brewery was transitioning from St. Patrick’s to Blind Faith’s brews so it’s tough to say what the final tap list will look like. However when we stopped by they offered a dozen or more beers including straight-up traditional styles as well as more experimental beers with fruit, peppers, and some high-gravity offerings. Assuming minimal changes, the menu should have enough diversity to satisfy almost every taste and all the beers we tried were solid.

ATMOSPHERE: The taproom opens to the brewery and is divided into a bar, an area with regular tables, a cozy fireplace pit, and a game area with a ping-pong table and other games. The neighborhood and family atmosphere that St Patrick’s fostered continues, with a mix of old and young, singles, couples, kids, and dogs. Most people stopped in for one or two and maybe some to-go beers although the families seemed to be camping out all afternoon. At some points the screaming kids became annoying even in the bar.  For warm weather, Blind Faith also has a huge, shady Blind Faith Fireplacegarden area with picnic tables and outdoor games that overlooks the South Platte River. It seems like they generally have food trucks and Lucille’s restaurant is next door, though the hours don’t overlap much with Blind Faith’s.

SERVICE: At the bar, service was friendly but spotty. On the positive side, the servers were cheerful, informative, and occasionally opinionated about the beers they served. On the negative side, they were easily distracted on a none-too-busy weekend afternoon and we had to call their attention to our empty glasses to get fresh pours.

NEIGHBORHOOD: Located a few blocks outside the quaint downtown core of Littleton, Blind Faith is sort of marooned in the middle of the parking lot it shares with Lucille’s and Dish customer service. While there is no immediate “neighborhood” to speak of, it’s certainly walkable from downtown Littleton and could be a nice stop after strolling the shops. It has a huge parking lot too. The beer garden abuts the South Platte Trail so you could even reward yourself with a beer after a nice walk or ride. I suppose it could accessed via public transit by bus or blind-faith-strawberry-fire-taster.jpga bit of a walk from light rail too.

STANDOUT BEER: Strawberry Fire combines the up-front sweetness of strawberries with a little kick of hot pepper on the backside that quickly fades out. The pepper isn’t overly pronounced so even sensitive palates shouldn’t worry. The clear, light-yellow/straw beer has a light body and few other noticeable flavors besides strawberry and peppers.

Brewery Snapshot: Locovore Beer Works

Locovore Beer Works bills itself as a small business, neighborhood brewery and that’s pretty much what you get when you visit. Friendly staff and customers, a comfortable taproom, and familiar beers. There’s nothing experimental or edgy here, but the large high-quality beer selection and low-key atmosphere make this a great place to hang out for an afternoon or evening.

BEER LINEUP: Diverse. The long taplist covers a lot of ground from light to dark and should satisfy most any taste from hophead to fruit-lover to high-gravity freak.

ATMOSPHERE: Locovore has the typical relaxed suburban strip mall taproom and crowd. On a weekday Happy Hour a number of people still worked on laptops while others met for a beer after work. The spacious west-facing taproom and outdoor patio fill with sun late in the afternoon and open to the brewing tanks. The brewery is dog-friendly and serves food from an attached catering kitchen (order from kiosk at front of brewery). 20171108_161432_HDR

SERVICE: The service was hit or miss, but friendly when it happened. Occasionally a server would swing by the table but often the best bet was to go to the bar where the servers generally seemed to group up in a protective huddle. Once at the bar, the servers were efficient at dispensing beer.

NEIGHBORHOOD: The neighborhood about a mile west of downtown Littleton is the stereotype of suburbia, with a few strip malls and many spacious homes. There isn’t much to keep you in the immediate area but downtown Littleton is quaint and a several other breweries are closeby if you want to make a crawl of it.

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Fresh off the nitro

STANDOUT BEER: Corker English Bitter. Locovore serves it on nitro so the mouthfeel is silky-smooth and thick-bodied, which seems a bit surprising for the golden-copper color. The beer gives off a slightly unpleasant nose at first that seems heavy on English hop flavors, but a taste gives way to a rich malt flavor with light bittering.

Brewery Snapshot: Grist Brewing Company

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.

Littleton – Highlands Ranch Loop

Another long ride similar to the Southeast Ride, this one cuts through a state park with a reservoir, features scenic trails and mountain views, and for better or worse takes on some big hills. A couple of differences include a much more rural setting, some on-road stretches along high-speed Santa Fe, sections of gravel trail, and a railroad crossing.

The ride starts at the Breckenridge Brewery Farmhouse, 20170301_174707_hdr1.jpgwhere you can get primed for the long ride with both tasty homestyle food and beer served either in the farmhouse building, on one of its screened patios, or in the expansive beer garden. The Farmhouse is extremely busy but if you start early parking shouldn’t be an issue and the service is always efficient. The beer selection can be hit or miss, so maybe just have one before grabbing your bike, riding out the main entrance, and heading left to launch southbound on the South Platte River Trail (Mary Carter Greenway on some signs). Continue reading “Littleton – Highlands Ranch Loop”

Brewery Snapshot: Boggy Draw Brewery

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!

20170601_173056_hdr.jpgBEER 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 20170601_173357_hdr.jpgand 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.
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