Taking over the former Caution space in Lakewood, Old 121 Brewhouse held their grand opening this past Sunday with seven of their own beers, a collaboration and a handful of home-crafted sodas. Short-version, Old 121 is your standard suburban brewery; great if you’re in the neighborhood but not worth crossing town and passing a dozen other craft breweries. The taproom is little-changed from Caution and stayed full all afternoon and evening, with crowds spilling onto the patio. Given that many breweries take a few months to really hit their groove I’ll definitely look to re-visit and reassess in six months or so.
BEER LINEUP: The seven-beer taplist mostly stuck to the light/medium styles and seemed pretty typical for opening-day; stuff that could be done quickly and with less margin for error. Everything I tried was pleasant and I’m sure like most breweries, time and experience will let Old 121 experiment and expand their offerings.
ATMOSPHERE: Opening Day is atypical for any brewery, and Old 121 certainly had a big opening day. The taproom was packed and the energetic crowd spilled out onto the patio. It seemed like a younger, neighborhood crowd with some families included. There was a lot of turnover with people dropping in to check it out and then moving on. The taproom itself retains the charmlessness of Caution and doesn’t try to hide that it’s a plain-vanilla slot in a suburban strip mall. Decoration is non-existent and furniture is bar-101; hard-surfaced bar stools along with basic tables and chairs. There are several food business in the nearby strip malls including a wing place and a pizza joint that provide food for eating in the brewery.
SERVICE: Old 121 seemed to have smartly staffed up for Opening Day and the servers were busy but still relatively efficient and very attentive.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Located in a strip mall near Wadsworth Boulevard and Jewell Avenue, the area around Old 121 is exactly what you would expect. The neighborhood contains the standard strip malls with the usual mix of chain and local businesses, surrounded by mostly single-family housing. Unless you live closeby, there’s not much to draw you to the area except, perhaps, Old 121. Most people will find Old 121 a driving destination and happily there is plentiful parking. It can be easily combined with a trip to Landlocked just down Wadsworth.
STANDOUT BEER: In all honesty I didn’t find a beer that blew my mind, but given their newness I thought that the Lager turned out pretty well. The light-yellow, slightly-cloudy beer had a thin mouth-feel, as one would expect. The flavor profile was significantly more complex than your average lager, however. I detected alternately a little sweet, a little sour, and a little hoppy. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it balanced as the flavors never seemed to blend, it made for an interesting and easy-drinking brew that will be a great thirst-quencher this summer.
The west side of Denver seems perpetually underpopulated by breweries, particularly in light of Caution’s 2018 closure. However one bright spot remains in Landlocked Ales, which opened in 2017 near Wadsworth Boulevard and Hampden Avenue. The brewery offers a comprehensive lineup of beers that will likely satisfy most palates, served in a standard suburban taproom. Perhaps not worth a special trip, but not bad if you happen to be in the area or coming back from the mountains on US 285 (Hampden).
BEER LINEUP: The tap list includes typical representations of most major styles, and the beers I tried were pleasant. Nothing on the list was particularly experimental (the most adventurous beer was a winter warmer), but everyone ought to be able to find something to enjoy.
ATMOSPHERE: In typical strip-mall setup, the taproom features a bar, some tables and an opening to display the brewing equipment. On our visit the place was quiet, with small groups of young and middle-aged people chatting or watching sports and occasionally grabbing a bite from the food truck. It seemed like most people were one-and-done, with constant turnover. In other words a pleasant, if unremarkable space.
SERVICE: Our servers were friendly, attentive and eager to share their beer with us. Service is bar-only.
NEIGHBORHOOD: As you might imagine from the location, the area is saturated with strip malls which are surrounded by suburban houses and apartments. Landlocked is clearly either a neighborhood stop or driving destination and not really walkable. There might be some shops or restaurants in the surrounding area worth stopping in for some shopping or a bite since Landlocked does not have a kitchen, and there’s plenty of parking.
STANDOUT BEER: Ghost Porter. Landlocked takes pains to communicate that this beer in no way involves ghost – or any other – chili and really it’s a straight-up porter, though more robust than many. The mahogany-colored opaque beer has little head but a relatively thick viscosity that yields to deep roasted-malt flavors with noticeable chocolate notes. The overall richness makes it a heavier porter, almost heading into stout territory, and on a cold and snowy winter day it was perfect.
Even though it’s 20 minutes from Denver, Golden City Brewery makes you feel a little like you’re in a small mountain town. Set in a neighborhood of old houses with a large patio and foothills views, Golden City offers a bit of an escape from hectic city life for a few hours. Of course, knocking back a few of their solid beers doesn’t hurt either!
BEER LINEUP: The menu features all the standards from golden to stout with everything in between, plus a few more adventurous beers like a sour and saison. All the beers I tried were enjoyable, though maybe not 100% true to style.
ATMOSPHERE: The overall atmosphere was really chill and given the proximity the the School of Mines there was a big college crowd. The indoor taproom is very tiny but fortunately when we were there it was nice enough to relax on the huge dog-friendly outdoor patio. The patio offers great views and also some gas fireplaces to take the chill off. If you are hungry, Golden City offers a very limited menu consisting of brats and chips.
SERVICE: Very friendly but not terribly efficient. Customers line up at a single counter to order so if someone is sampling or getting chatty it can take a while. One nice feature is the outdoor ordering window for those on the patio. Note: For a brewery Golden City closes rather early – 6:30 or 7:30 depending on the day.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Golden City resides just a few blocks away from Golden’s main business district in a sleepy residential neighborhood of Victorian homes. It makes for a great afternoon to combine a few beers with a stroll to do some shopping or grab a bite to eat. If you only have time to pop in for a quick one, though, the neighborhood also has plenty of free parking.
STANDOUT BEER: Lookout Stout. I really couldn’t ask for a better winter beer. The beer was so dark it was almost black and offered up strong rich malty flavors backed by some cocoa. Definitely something to cozy up with on a chilly day. The only (slight) disappointment was that for such a dark and intense beer the consistency was thinner than a typical stout.
With two walls of open garage doors and a fantastic view of Sloan’s Lake, Joyride Brewing Company’s taproom almost feels like the outdoors. The busy location in downtown Edgewater offers a fair number of beer choices, which you can enjoy in their small backyard beer garden or sitting at the counter while enjoying the great view and watching life pass by on the busy street corner.
BEER LINEUP: Much of the lineup looked fairly standard, though favoring lighter, summery brews – a couple IPAs, a Kolsch, a lager, a cream, and a dark beer. They also spice up the mix with seasonals and specialty beers so you might luck into something a little offbeat as well, like my friend did with a mango IPA.
ATMOSPHERE: Busy on a summer Saturday. All of the communal tables and street-facing counters were full of a variety of people from hipsters to families to neighborhood regulars. Even the small outdoor space in back was packed, even in iffy weather. Joyride is most definitely a summer stop, with two walls of the taproom open to the heat and outward-facing counters for lake views and people-watching. It seems like they always have a food truck, but there are plenty of neighborhood restaurants too.
SERVICE: Despite the busy Saturday afternoon the bartenders seemed in a good mood and happily provided samples and reasonably quick service. It seemed like there was sort-table-service if one of them could work his or her way out from behind the bar, but I wouldn’t count on it.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Old-town Edgewater feels like a small town despite the close proximity to Denver. There are small shops and restaurants to peruse along with Sloan’s Lake for recreation. It’s definitely a place where you could hang out vs. just hitting Joyride. Joyride seems like another small business bringing a key piece of the puzzle to make the neighborhood whole instead of just a hit & run visit.
STANDOUT BEER: So it sounds strange for a summer, but the day had unexpectedly cooled and the Bear Paw Oatmeal Milk Stout really hit the spot. The beer offered a smooth and balanced experience combining forward coffee and chocolate flavors with a more subtle milk flavor. As one would expect, Bear Paw has a thick body and dark color.