Bar Review: Denver Beer Co. Offers Small-batch Craft Brews
by Sara Crocker
hough Denver never seems to be short on its craft brew offerings, Denver Beer Co. stands out with its philosophy of small batch brews that rotate regularly and a tap room that rivals the size of many bars—with a large patio to boot.
Founded by two Colgate University alums, Denver Beer opened in August, nestled between the Highlands and LoDo at 1695 Platte St. The brewery takes a seasonal approach to its brews and tries to source ingredients locally when possible.
Docket Committee member Becky Bye had an inside line of the brewery, being a Colgate alum and knowing one of the founders.
“I was ecstatic,” she recalled when finding out about the brewery. “I could finally visit an establishment that mixed two of my passions—my alma mater and craft beer.”
When we visited in December, there were a variety of beers on tap, including Hefeweizen, cider, Saison, coffee stout, and ales that were pale, brown, and Scotch. Certainly, it offered beer drinkers of all stripes a number of options.
Attendees of this Bar Review were Bye, Craig Eley, Tom Kanan, Natalie Lucas, Chris Mommsen, Frank Schuchat, Kate Schuster, Marshall Snider, Dennis Walker, and me.
We tried a variety of brews. Most who tried the William Wallace Scotch Ale enjoyed it, while others found it too sweet. The pale ale was a hit—not too hoppy, but with a great body, Snider said. The cider was tart and effervescent without a strong apple flavor, said Kanan, who added that he would have enjoyed it more in warmer weather. He also said the Downtown Cherry Brown was somewhat bitter and lacking in sweetness from the cherry. The Paris Coffee Stout offered a subtle coffee flavor with a smooth, rich flavor that didn’t feel heavy.
The beers rotate regularly, with the brewery announcing its latest selections on its Twitter feed (@DenverBeerCo) and Facebook page (facebook.com/DenverBeerCompany).
In terms of food, Denver Beer does offers large pretzels, but nothing else. Some nights, a food truck will be out front, which the brewery will announce via Twitter and Facebook. However, guests are allowed to bring in outside food, which means that if you can get it to-go, you can enjoy it there with a beer.
We picked up pizza and salads from nearby Proto’s Pizzeria Napoletana. Our selections included three salads—mixed greens with a house-made balsamic dressing, caprese salad, and Caesar with house-made croutons—as well as a variety of the Naples-style pizzas, with thin, crispy crusts and toppings ranging from San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil to honey tomato chipotle sauce, Polidori bacon, fresh pineapple, and cilantro.
Not everyone in the group enjoyed the super-thin crust, as some wanted more crisp, while others pined for more dough, but the salads all went fast, with people especially noting the Caesar and the balsamic on the greens and caprese as standouts.
Denver Beer doesn’t feature any happy hour specials (at least, not at press time), so it doesn’t fill up as quickly as some other post-work hot spots. The young crowd generally filters in closer to 7 p.m. However, it should be noted that if it’s snowing, those who drink their pint in the beer garden outside will get $2 off (and pints generally are $5–6).
The space is a former garage, still featuring its large roll-up doors, which offer street views through glass panels. Much of the space is populated with beetle-kill pine and salvaged materials. Our “table” was a former city tree planter—wrought iron retrofitted to a high-top.
The servers went out of their way to ensure we were comfortable—we were short on plates and napkins, and they were more than happy to share what they had on hand. But, once the crowd picked up that attentiveness waned. With two people waiting on the whole place, service quickly got backed up.
Still, Denver Beer was spacious, welcoming, and offered a great variety of beers. The energetic crowd that filled the space on that December weekday showed the brewery is establishing itself among the locals (and their pooches—who also are welcome inside).
“The place is conducive to good conversations, and if you are single (like some of my friends who have accompanied me to the bar), it is a great place to scope out fellow singles that share a passion for beer,” Bye said.
If you’re interested in craft brews, it’s definitely a place to add to your tour of the city’s offerings. D