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.
Stuck in a somewhat inconspicuous location in Wheat Ridge, Brewery Rickoli
nevertheless seems to work on a lot of levels. Maybe the modest location gives it that comfortable neighborhood/community vibe, or perhaps it’s the heavy presence of owner/brewer Rick Abitbol’s personality in the brewery – from tweaks to traditional recipes to the quirky beer names. Rickoli keeps a good rotation of the old standbys on tap and adds new creations to keep things interesting. In my book, Rickoli gets extra credit for making gluten-free beers without making a big deal of it, likely because their beers actually taste really good and don’t need the “gluten-free” tag to draw customers. Although Rickoli may sound a little out of the way, it’s really just minutes from downtown and well worth the drive.
BEER LINEUP: Rickoli covers the spectrum of traditional styles from cream ale to imperial stout and also ventures into experimental beers like a barrel-soured red. Even the traditional styles often have a slight twist – an extra ingredient or different brewing process – like their vanilla rye. Best of all, the changes generally seem to enhance the beer rather than detract (unlike some places around town).
ATMOSPHERE: Given the location in a strip mall the physical space is unsurprising and boxy containing a bar, some basic tables and chairs, and a popcorn machine. The vibe is very community-oriented with the bartender seeming to know most of the crowd and families stopping by. The place felt very relaxed like a neighborhood hangout. Rickoli also furnishes a small patio out front.
SERVICE: Outstanding. The server was extremely friendly and welcoming. He went out of his way to make personalized sampling suggestions based on beers we previously tried and admired.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Rickoli is located in a tired strip mall next to a pot shop in a neighborhood of similar buildings. Not really walking territory. Near the corner of 38th & Wadsworth, driving or Uber may be the best transportation option and happily Rickoli features plenty of parking, along with easy access to I70 and Wadsworth.
STANDOUT BEER: In keeping with the “beer with a twist” theme, the two standout beers for me were McGoats, which adds oats to their regular rye beer, and the aforementioned vanilla rye. McGoats has a medium body and the oats serve to mellow out some of the potential rye harshness for a roasty, malty beer giving hints of chocolate, smoke and a mild rye bite. The real twist is a yeast that adds an herbal, minty flavor and aftertaste. The Vanilla in yo’Rye was a pleasant surprise with a solid rye base and a good dose of vanilla flavor. The flavor goes light on rye with just enough to add structure, and heavy notes of vanilla to make for a comforting winter beer.