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A Beginner’s Guide to Denver Area Breweries

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Wally Gobetz, flickr.com

Colorado is home to an amazing variety of beer. From the Rocky Mountain water made famous by Coors centuries ago to America’s first wind-powered brewery, New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colorado is one of the original homes of the microbrew and craft brewing in general.

There are at least 230 established breweries in the state, including 25 Colorado Brewers Guild Member Breweries, as of 2013.

Finding Great Brew in Denver

Colorado’s capital city is a major part of America’s booming micro brewing obsession: There are dozens of breweries in the Denver metro area, many of which have opened in the past few years, including eight between mid-2013 and the beginning of 2014.

One of the best ways to become acquainted with the brews available in Denver is to take a microbrew tour. The LoDo (Lower Downtown) tour is a 1.5-mile excursion offered on the weekends, and it stretches into the Ballpark neighborhood, stopping at four distinct brew pubs.

Those looking for more of a self-guided and spontaneous option should also start downtown, just east of the 25. Denver’s Downtown area is an unrivaled hotbed of brewing options. Beers with ABVs on the higher end of the spectrum, like Belgian styles and IPAs are popular in the Mile-High City.

Many Denver micro and craft breweries offer barrel-aged options and seasonal releases alongside their year-round brews. The following is a small sampling of some of Denver’s eclectic brew houses, many of which partner with area food trucks to complement their beer with tasty grub.

Downtown and LoHi

The Epic Brewing Company was founded in Salt Lake City, and its Denver branch on Walnut Street in the River North area opened in 2013. Epic offers 25 beers on tap that run the gamut from pale ale to stouts, and they offer many distinct Belgian-style brews.

The Prost Brewing Company features traditional German-style brews: pils, dunkel and weitbier. Each day of the week sees a different food truck parked at Prost, many of which serve foods that are well-matched with the brewery’s beer style, like pork, hot dogs and sausage.

Breweries, Brew Pubs and Gastro Pubs in Denver, CO

The Great Divide Brewing Company was designated the Top Brewer in Colorado in 2013 by Ratebeer.com, and The Great Divide works hard to achieve sustainability and help the community thrive. Most of the barley used in Great Divide beers is grown in Colorado.

Operating out of a former dairy processing plant downtown since 1994, The Great Divide is the place to go for beers that pack a punch. Four of their year-round options boast APVs in the 7 percent range, and three year-rounds top that: The Hercules Double IPA at 10 percent, Yeti Imperial Stout at 9.5 and Orabelle Belgian Style at 8.3.

Brew Pubs South and East of Downtown

With a convenient location on a bike path near Mile-High Station and UCD, Strange Brewing Company opened in 2010 and offers a variety of beer styles, like its GABF gold medal-winning Gluten-Free Lemon Pale and the Cherry Bomb Belgian Stout. Students get $1 off pints Monday and Tuesday when they flash a valid ID.

Housed in a classic building with brick walls and high ceilings, the bustling Renegade Brewing Company’s taproom in the Santa Fe Art District is TV-free to provide beer aficionados more opportunity to interact and talk beer. Renegade has four year-round choices on tap that range from hoppy to malty, including Hammer & Sickle, their Russian Imperial Stout, and Elevation IPA.

Intimate yet creative, the Wit’s End Brewing Company is considered a nanobrewery. They brew one barrel at a time, but big things can be found in small packages. Their Jean Claude Van Blonde was awarded a bronze at the 2014 World Beer Cup, and their range of 22 distinct beer styles includes a black IPA and the intriguing Judge Whoppener, a brown ale crafted with a variety of malts and malted milk powder.

The Breckenridge Brewing Company opened its Denver location in 1992. Their six year-round options are all low in IBU and ABV, even their Lucky U IPA, with an IBU of 68 and 6.2 percent ABV. Breckenridge is ideal for those who prefer malty beer with low bitterness levels or who are not yet acquainted with the bitter hoppiness of India Pale Ales.

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