Tuesday Travels: A Denver Quickie

We recently found ourselves with a free afternoon in downtown Denver, CO which of course meant it was a free afternoon to do some day drinking via brewery hopping!

But first, food! We started our day with a big brunch at local spot Syrup. A cute, modern diner with a large menu of unique breakfast selections. We went with the Elvis French Toast and Pancake Flight. Each came with 2 flavored syrup options and 1 flavored butter. We figured that starting our day off with flights, even if it was pancakes and syrup, was a good way to get things going. Oh, and we also had to try an appetizer of beignets because, well, we were on vacation! More restaurants need appetizers at breakfast, just saying. Breakfast was delicious and had us ready to get our adventure rolling.

Brewery #1: Crooked Stave at The Source

The Source

We walked (and walked and walked!) from Denver’s LODO neighborhood to the River North area and Denver’s The Source. The Source is a market of restaurants, retailers, bars and of course, a brewery located inside an old, brick foundry building. If you seek this place out, you may wonder just where the hell your GPS is leading you as it is located in quite the industrial area. But keep going and you will come across a beautiful, modern, brick space. The Crooked Stave taproom is located in the back of the building. The Crooked Stave is a brewery known for their Belgian inspired sour beers. After an enthusiastic welcome and walk through the taplist from the Assistant Manager, Ben, we dived right in.

Crooked Stae Beers

Starting from least sour to “pucker up buttercup”, we tasted our way through 6 different brews from Crooked Stave. The Surette Saison, a very drinkable, oaky saison with just a touch of sour was how we started. Then it was the Grapefruit Radler that was too sour and too grapefruit for my liking. Next we moved into the oak aged selections starting with Origins, a burgundy sour. This beer was a beautiful mix of sour plus dark cherries and oak. I thought it was my favorite until I sipped on the Nightmare on Brett, a brett baltic porter aged on whiskey barrels. Wow! At first sip you get the funk from the yeast and then suddenly the whiskey comes through. I was so sad when my glass was empty.

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After purchasing some bottles to bring home. We chatted with Ben some more about beer including Grand Rapids breweries. We were pretty pleased when he mentioned his favorite was Brewery Vivant. Just so happens we brought some Vivant cans with us to pass along to those we meet on our adventure. Ben was pretty stoked when we pulled out a can for him! And then it was time to hit out next spot!

Brewery #2: Great Divide Barrel Bar

I believe!
I believe!

Just up the street from The Source is Great Divide’s newly opened Barrel Bar. This wasn’t originally on our list but when we saw how close it was and the word “Barrel”, we couldn’t miss it. The Barrel Bar is a small tap-room and packaging space for the popular Denver brewery. They feature Great Divide’s regular line up plus, you guessed it, barrel aged versions as well as some scratch beers.

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It seemed a little strange to go from sours to dark, barrel aged stouts and old ales but duty calls! We started with two versions of the brewery’s classic Russian Imperial Stout, Yeti, a Chocolate Oak Aged and a Bourbon Barrel Aged. While both were excellent, I preferred the roasty, chocolate notes of the Chocolate Oak better than the Bourbon Barrel. We also sampled the Barrel Aged Hibernation Ale, an Old Ale aged on whiskey barrels and the Claymore Scotch Ale. Both were tasty but couldn’t compete with the Yeti in my eyes. It was time to start the trek back to Blake Street to make a stop at the next brewery on our list.

Brewery #3: Beryl’s Brewing Co. 

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This was really supposed to be a quick stop. The Thirsty Giraffe has a personal connection to the name “Beryl” so we wanted to get a t-shirt and try a beer or two while we were there and then move on to other breweries in the Blake Street area. Well, we ended up hanging out for close to two hours! The welcoming feel of the open, industrial, tap-room space as well as the amazing beer selection made us feel right at home. Don’t miss this spot if you are in the area!

Not a bad one in the bunch!
Not a bad one in the bunch!

With 7 “regular” beers and 8 barrel aged versions to match, we decided to narrow it down to 5 from each board. The Paper Moon, an American Pale Ale, and the Elsie Mae, a saison aged in wine barrels were some of the lighter favorites. Although not a tequila aged beer fan, I had to admit the Agav-e-ated Gose did an impressive job of imitating a margarita in beer form. But my favorite of the flight was the Beryl’d Riga, a baltic porter aged in whiskey barrels. The whiskey was strong in this one but didn’t overpower the creamy, sweet darkness. We wish we had been able to leave with bottles but we ended up with two t-shirts, a hat and stickers along with anticipation for the next time we can visit. Well done Beryl! (Or….Beth. And congrats on the wedding the next day!)

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Very small. That’s the barrel room to the left of the brewing system.

And there you have it, brunch and 3 breweries in about 5 hours and then it was time to continue our Colorado adventure! With so many great breweries in Denver, you really can’t go wrong. Do you have a favorite Denver brewery? Tell us about it in the comments!

And then, go climb a mountain. Cheers!

Taken from the top of the Incline in Manitou Springs, CO.
Taken from the top of the Incline in Manitou Springs, CO.

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