One of the older Denver craft breweries, Strange Craft Beer has remained tucked away below I25 for seven years in its industrial location near Mile High Stadium. Despite being off the beaten path, Strange draws a mixed crowd of regulars and visitors from throughout the city with its cozy taproom and eclectic beer lineup offering both traditional styles and interesting new brews. The central location makes it easy to head down for an evening or stop by on the way to another event.
BEER LINEUP: Strange offers a diverse and always-changing lineup from IPAs to stouts to farmhouse and fruit. They generally feature a few standbys like Cherry Kriek and Breakfast Grapefruit IPA combined with rotating favorites like Big Malty and a few new brews. Although the menu is unpredictable it would take an awfully picky drinker to not find something to like.
ATMOSPHERE: The taproom has a very intimate feel and it seems like many patrons are regulars and know each other and the bartenders. The familiarity is good since the small taproom practically requires sharing tables and making new friends. During warmer weather the Biergarten behind the brewery opens with tons of seating and outdoor games which include raising a toast to each light rail train that passes by. Strange seems to always have a food truck out front.
SERVICE: Always super-friendly. While the bar can get jammed up and appear hopeless for getting refreshment, the bartenders do a great job of managing traffic while still offering samples and friendly chitchat about the beers.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Strange sits right below the 13th street bridge under I25 and next to a power plant in an industrial strip mall so the neighborhood offers little else of interest aside from maybe the distillery next door. Although within walking distance of Mile High Stadium you really need a good map app to navigate the twists and turns to find it. The area has a slightly sketch feel but it’s really more deserted than unsafe. Parking in the strip mall lot is usually available.
STANDOUT BEER: Big Malty. In an IPA-crazed world it’s refreshing to break the mold with this medium-dark beer combining the slightly sweet and roasty flavors of malt with essentially no hops bitterness. Best of all, it’s surprisingly light-bodied, unlike many stouts and other malt-forward beers. Better get it fast, though, as I think its season’s about ending.
May looks like a great month for beer and other drinking experiences!
May 7 is National Homebrew Day. If you’re already a homebrewer or want to give it a try a lot of brewing supply places are doing things to celebrate, such as The Brew Hut which is having brewing demonstrations and sales on equipment on May 6.
Mid-month is American Craft Beer Week from May 15-21 when you can expect numerous breweries to get in on the action with special events.
The Denver Bacon and Beer Festival hits Mile High Stadium on May 13. Bacon + Beer – is any more description needed?
May 20 is a two-fer. Starting at noon Strange Craft celebrates their 7th anniversary with a Backyard BBQ featuring food, bands, and of course beer from 10 different breweries! Then in the evening the Denver Beer and Music Festival kicks in at City Hall on Broadway with bands, DJs, beer, and other alcoholic beverages. Perhaps a good day for Uber, huh?
Thursday May 25th brings Colorado Corks and Cuisine at Four-Mile Park. This event celebrates local food, distilleries, and of course breweries including Comrade and Fermaentra. Tickets are cheaper in advance and coupon code GCCC gets you another 5 bucks off.
This month several breweries are doing taproom events involving food that might help break up the dark winter days.
- Wednesday January 18 6PM Halfpenny Brewing Company in Centennial is doing a Beer & Cheese Pairing with their beers and cheese from the local Whole Foods. At 6 bucks it sounds like one heck of a deal.
- Sunday January 29 Copper Kettle Brewing Co is hosting a Chili Cookoff from noon to 3. Bring your best recipe for the challenge or just stop by for some beer and tastes. Best part is that it’s free and winners will get Copper Kettle gift certificates (i.e. free beer!)
- Monday January 30 6PM Strange Craft is doing their own beer and cheese pairing called A Strange Cheese Incident for $25. They’ll pair their beers with cheese from The Truffle Cheese Shop
Yesterday Wynkoop Brewing Co. sponsored their annual Day of the Darks in support of Movember and for dark-beer lovers it was Thanksgiving come early! About 30 breweries poured some of their finest in support of men’s health charities, while Wynkoop provided snacks and cholcolate for pairing. If you’re into darks, some of the highlights I’d recommend checking out if you find yourself by the brewery or at a liquor store are:
- Boggy Draw Groundhog Mountain Milk Stout – Not overly sweet like some at the Fest. The light sweetness provides balance to the slight bitterness of the roast malt
- Boggy Draw Wee Stout – Combines English hops flavors (primaly tea) with roast malt
- Strange & Epic Strangely Epic Imperial Cherry Stout – Collaboration using Strange’s Cherry Kriek and Epic’s Big Bad Baptist. The Baptist definitely won out with the rich malty flavors taking center stage and only a hint of cherry
- Strange Pumpkin Porter – Strange used 25 lb of pumpkin per barrel to make a beer that’s not overwhelming on the pumkin spice and carries notes of vanilla and honey too
- Dry Dock Peaunut Butter Porter – Crazy-good beer that tasted like a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup
- Dry Dock Quad – Also a crazy-good beer with complex flavors of raisin, malt, carmel, and vanilla. Unlike lots of quads it doesn’t have the sharp alcohol flavor
- Left Hand Smoke Jumper – A nice dark beer with a hickory BBQ type of smokiness that almost makes the beer savory.It reminded me of a good smoked cheddar
- Liquid Mechanics Cascadian Dark – An unusual black IPA that does a great balancing act between the up-front floral/citrus hops and the subtle dark-roast malt flavors
- Briar Common American Porter – Dark-roast malt combined with robust coffee flavors