This Friday serves up a double dose of city-wide events with the Rockies home opener and First Friday art walks. Numerous breweries and taprooms in the vicinity of Coors Field are putting out special releases or lining up special brews to help fans celebrate the season opener. In the evening you can take in the culture of First Friday art walks along Santa Fe, Tennyson Street or RINO, stopping at numerous breweries in each of those neighborhoods. As far as specific weekend events . . .
Friday 5 – Saturday 6: Just west of downtown, Seedstock Brewery turns the corner on another year with their third anniversary party. They’ll have beer releases, food trucks, and live music both days. Friday also has a bonus comedy show at 6 p.m..
Friday 5: Try out some of the great Belgian Beers imported by Sheldon Brothers at the Shelton Brothers showcase in the Pour Tap House in Commerce City from 6 – 9 p.m.
Saturday 6: Get up early and lace up your running shoes for WestFax Brewing Company’s 5k Brewery Run starting at 11 a.m.! The race runs through the 40 West Arts District and ends back at the brewery. Naturally your ticket includes a free beer. Note: This is a ticketed event.
Saturday 6: Be one of the first to try out Lost Friend Brewing Company at their Grand Opening. The Colorado Springs brewery looks set to have nine diverse beers on tap, plus a couple of special tappings throughout the day as well as a food truck.
Sunday 7: For something entirely different and a bit educational, head to Purpose Brewing and Cellars in Ft. Collins for a talk and demonstration by Russ Karasch, a visiting cooper from Squarrel Square Barrels. The event starts at 3 p.m. and although it’s free, please visit the website to sign up to help them plan for the event.
Although it’s been open for a couple of years, I only just got around to trying the Stanley Beer Hall at Stanley Marketplace adjacent to the Stapleton neighborhood. It’s a relatively unique concept for the Denver market and for me at least, a mixed bag of cool ideas and mild annoyance.
How it Works: When you arrive you have to check in at the front desk to get a card that allows you to pour your own beer and keeps a running tab. A row of taps with electronic flow monitoring sits at the back of the restaurant. When you want a drink you wave your card in front of the monitor and then dispense as much beer as you want. Beers are priced per ounce and the system tracks of how much you’ve purchased via your card.
First, the Pro’s:
- The flexible pour-yourself concept lets you try a greater variety of different beers by having partial glasses or enjoy smaller pours of high-gravity beers.
- They have a relatively wide selection of craft beers and ciders (plus one lonely Coors Light) including seasonals and unique beers from Front-Range breweries
- The taps also offer a few wines and cocktails for non-beer-drinkers
- Each time you pour, the LCD screen shows how many total ounces you have consumed so you can monitor how much you’ve had
- You can load your card for a pre-set amount if you have a drinking budget or leave it open-ended and pay at the end.
- They serve food. This part is done by servers, which makes the self-service beer part a little confusing as employees are already making the rounds of the place.
Now the Cons:
- You do all the work, constantly leaving your seat to trek acrossthe restaurant to the taps. This is particularly annoying if you are eating as well as drinking.
- Beer info is only provided on the screens at the taps and even that is rather limited. As a result, things jam up while everyone tries to read the various tiny screens to make their choices.
- Much of the beer is relatively expensive if you convert ounces to pints ($7-$9 per pint). While the LCDs show your volume they do not show your total, which makes it a little hard to tell how much you are spending. The price issue particularly annoyed me since I was doing the work of waiter/bartender.
- You have to wait in line to get the card and wait while the hostess sets up the account
- You have to wait in line to close out the card if you haven’t pre-paid
Overall I think the place has a cool concept, a nice location, and a comfortable vibe. However the whole process of cards, taps, etc. could be executed a little better to have less wait time and hassle so the focus could be on the fun aspects like sampling the well-curated beer selection.
After visiting Colorado Plus Brew Pub I developed a keen sense of envy of folks living in Northwest Denver. Colorado Plus combines a solid brewing operation of their own with a well-curated menu of Colorado beers, plus a full kitchen, all presented in a comfortable taproom.
BEER LINEUP: Colorado Plus has a limited menu of their own beers plus dozens of guest beers and cider from across Colorado. Colorado Choice’s brews are all on the lighter side (Cream Ale, IPAs, Saison) but the guest beer collection appears to be thoughtfully put together with some of the usual suspects and many truly unique one-offs. There’s something for every taste. Finally, this is one of the rare craft breweries that offers Happy Hour!
ATMOSPHERE: The taproom feels like it used to be a local hole-in-the-wall bar that’s had a quick makeover. The interior is dark and comfortable, with the low-key vibe of a neighborhood joint populated by diverse groups of all ages and numerous families. There’s also a small patio out front.
SERVICE: Colorado Plus is one of the few breweries with table service, and in our case it was a mixed blessing. Our server was super-friendly, knowledgeable about the beers, enthusiastic, and on top of our orders . . . when we could find him. The bar seemed to have a abundance of equally friendly and efficient servers so perhaps we just had bad timing when needing a refill.
LOCATION: Tucked off 38th Ave in Wheat Ridge, Colorado Plus fits nicely into the working-class neighborhood of main street small business and small homes on side streets. While there may not be many reasons to linger in the immediate area, 38th Ave features numerous restaurants and other business if you want to hang or need to run errands. Parking is ample, both onsite and on the street.
STANDOUT BEER: Skalds, Colorado Plus’ saison, displayed a golden-orange color and the first sip offered a full-bodied beer with light farmhouse notes and spicy/savory flavors as well. While not as adventurous as some of the guest beers, Skalds proved an interesting and pleasant offering.