December 3, 2016
While Colorado may be known best internationally for being the first state to legalize marijuana, it is also very well known for its craft beers. Breweries have become very popular, and they seem to be on every corner! A few of my friends from Dallas came into town, and of course, they wanted to try out a bunch of breweries. As such, we created our own brewery tour.
Our first stop was at Great Divide Brewing Company which was opened in 1994 when Denver’s craft beer industry hardly existed. Over time, Great Divide Brewing Company became one of America’s most decorated craft breweries. While Eric tried the Yeti Beer which appeared to be pretty popular, Steve and I tried sample flights. Both of us thought they were good and well priced! The brewery sells a variety of T-shirts and such, but only popcorn for food. A guacamole food truck was parked outside the brewery when we left around 1pm, but it wasn’t open yet.
Our next stop was at Jagged Mountain Brewery just a few blocks from Great Divide. Here I tried the Cougar Slayer. With that name, it may have been better suited for a male, but the blackberry saison sounded good to me. None of us tasted any blackberry in the Cougar Slayer, so that was a bummer, but the boys liked some of the other IPA’s. Neither had seen a 17.5% alcohol beer, so Steve and Eric ordered it to share. It tasted almost like molasses…it was very syrupy. We really liked the vibe at this brewery that had much more seating than the Great Divide. As with most breweries, it only sold popcorn, so it was time for us to find a place with food.
We headed the opposite direction from where we wanted to end up, but it wasn’t that long a walk…eight blocks or so to reach First Draft Taproom & Kitchen. This taproom has 30+ beers on tap on the wall along with a few ciders and a few wines. Most of the beers were Colorado crafts, yet some came from other states as well. The lightest could be found on the left of the wall and they grew bolder to the right. Guests can draw as much beer from each tap as they want…a one ounce or eight. A card connected to our credit card tracked the amount of each pour. There is a total limit which is probably a good way for the establishment to control guests over-serving themselves! We all ordered food though I can’t say it was the best. It was, however, sustenance.
From First Draft we walked a bit to Wynkoop Brewing Company, located across from Union Station. Wynkoop was started by John Hickenlooper (Colorado’s current governor), Jerry Williams, Mark Schiffler, and Russell Schehrer in the 80’s when LoDo (lower downtown Denver) was a ghost town. Now, Wynkoop is a Denver institution in a hopping downtown. Wynkoop brews its own beer, features guest beer, and has a full menu. We tried one beer quickly before we took a break from breweries to go to the hockey game at the Pepsi Center.
It only took about ten minutes to walk to the venue where the Dallas Stars were taking on the Colorado Avalanche in a division rivalry. My Dallas friends were happy to see the Stars win…3-0!
Our final stop of the night was at Union Station. Union Station was recently renovated, and is spectacular. The building includes an expansive lobby with the Terminal Bar and a few shops surrounding it. There are also a few fancy restaurants and a nice hotel. The Terminal Bar is great! We just joined the line at its window to order a beer and then headed to the shuffle board tables. Some other folks joined us for some friendly competition.
Just as we were about to call it a night, I ran into my friend Marissa and her friend Catherine. We caught up for awhile and then headed home. We hardly made a dent in the breweries. There were several more in the same vicinity. My friends planned on trying more breweries tomorrow. I opted for something a little more healthy tomorrow…a hike in the Rockies. What a fun day though! ETB
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