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Denver Brewery Tour

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Union Station Whistle-Stop

September 29, 2014

Union Station
1701 Wynkoop
Denver, CO 80202

Website: http://www.unionstationindenver.com
Email: info@unionstationindenver.com

The newly renovated Union Station in Downtown Denver deserves more than a whistle-stop, more like a weekend, but I thought “whistle-stop” was a catch title!

On a rainy Monday night, I was fortunate to visit Union Station with my friend Caro, who is a member of the Denver Art Museum’s Design Council. Through programs and events, the Design Council, which was established in 1990, provides a variety of unique opportunities to it’s members and a tour of Union Station and the Crawford Hotel was no exception. What a treat! http://www.denverartmuseum.org/membership-support/design-council

Having only been in Denver a few years, I was not familiar with the history of the station, but I understand that it was somewhat dilapidated, stinky, and threatened to be demolished at times. The station opened in 1881 to serve four different railways. During its heyday in the 1900’s it served 80 trains a day. Today it serves 2 trains a day though the service will be expanding with the new and improved station that has an “old-timey” feel, but looks lovely.

Our tour was led by Dana Crawford, for whom the Crawford Hotel is named. What a lady! Ms. Crawford has been involved in Urban Renewal for decades. She pioneered the redevelopment of Larimer Square in the 1960’s and was involved in saving Union Station from being demolished many years ago. http://danacrawford.net/home.html

Now the station will house RTD’s front range bus route, light rail, and a full Amtrak schedule. The light rail from DIA is scheduled to arrive in 2016! The station is also home to a few shops and a variety of bars, fancy restaurants, and a 112 room hotel. The hotel rooms wrap around the wings that extend from the station’s lobby. The 22 foot ceilings allowed for an extra floor to be added to create three types of rooms: small, art deco pullman rooms; classic rooms, and loft rooms. Several people like the small, pullman rooms, that emulate sleeping in a train car. I personally loved the lofts decorated with rustic looking furniture and complete with the wooden beams that cut through the bathrooms. http://thecrawfordhotel.com/

I’m not sure if we saw the deluxe or premium or superior category of each room, but rooms are available for about $260/night and increasing, not counting taxes. After seeing the rooms, we enjoyed cocktails at the lounge that overlooked the lobby before we finally ventured down to the Mercantile for a fantastic dinner! Caro ordered the short ribs. I ordered the fish. Both were flavorful. My “snack” (as they call it) appetizer which included a variety of spreads for bread was enough for two and only priced at $6. http://mercantiledenver.com/

Despite the stormy weather, the restaurant was quite full, and from what I understand, Union Station is packed on the weekends, so plan your visit for a dinner, night or a weekend…it’s worth it! ETB

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