When my brother and I finished a “tour” of three taprooms in downtown Denver—Breckenridge Brewery, Great Divide Brewing, and Jagged Mountain—we felt that it was time to venture further afield and start heading toward our hotel.
The first non-downtown brewery was Dry Dock Brewing Co. in Aurora. Located in a somewhat unassuming strip mall is a beautiful taproom that was filled to the gills with beer drinkers on a Saturday afternoon.
I sat down for a pint of USS Enterprise IPA:
It was a well-done and balanced IPA. I am beginning to formulate a theory that the IBU and alcohol of a beer are balanced in a nice 1:1 ratio, so to speak, so a 50 IBU beer would need to be 5.0% ABV to balance out. USS Enterprise IPA falls close to the ratio at 6.4% ABV and 69 IBU. ‘nuff said. My brother had a pint of the signature Apricot Blonde, but he came away less than enthused. I remember him mumbling something about fruit in beer. Different strokes for different folks.
We left Dry Dock a little earlier than expected because it was mad busy and the place felt a little bit like a locals hangout where you were tolerated, but not totally welcome. Turning back toward the eastern edge of Denver, we ended up at Comrade Brewing Company.
This is the baby of the group, having opened its taproom at the end of April. Wedged into a strip mall consisting of various automotive services I could not help but fall in love with a place that pays homage to the communist imagery of my Cold War youth:
I chose a pint of No Tone(Yellow Card) American Blonde:
A year-round offering, okay it’s been on tap continually for the past month, No Tone is an easy drinking light ale that pairs nicely with the late afternoon sun along the Front Range. It’s still a medium-heavy beer at 5.9% ABV, but when you start out the day with some of the mega offerings from other brewers this feels like you are putting down Busch Lights.
Starting to feel the effects of an early start, an emotional day beforehand, and a lot of high quality beers we felt that it was best if we cut our time at Comrade Brewing short—lest we end up spending the night somewhere close—and head north toward our hotel. On the way back we stopped in at Station 26 Brewing Co.
I ended up with a glass of Not West Coast IPA:
This beer is big (7.9% ABV) and very hop forward (91 IBU), but it does not linger in your throat like a lot of similarly aggressive beers. You get a blast of hop flavor and aroma, but it quickly clears. It was a solid choice as the sun started to descend behind the mountains, the temperature started to drop, and we were ready to call it a night.
Before we could end our evening we needed something to eat and, what do you know, the good folks from Basic Kneads—from whom we had gotten a pizza at lunch—had parked a trailer at Station 26. I kind of feel bad we did not seek out the third outlet for a pizza, but there is always another trip to Denver because I do not think I am going to run out of breweries and/or beers to try.
The moral of the story is that the Front Range is a playground for beer lovers. It seems like every day there is a new brewery opening up and every one of the taprooms that we went to had an excellent crowd. This means that the industry has a lot of support locally. My suggestion is to pick out a couple of taprooms per day—not six like me—and sample a wide variety of excellent beer. Choose the one you really like and enjoy it.