colorado brewery

Category Archives

Gluten-Free? No Problem At This New Denver Brewery

 

When it comes to Denver breweries, you’ll find many traditional ales, from strong stouts to crisp pale ales or hoppy IPAs. But there’s one thing most of these beers have in common: a heavy dose of gluten. One brewer is hoping to change Denver’s beer landscape with a new brewery: a gluten-free one.

Great Frontier’s founder and head brewer, Mike Plungis, was inspired to create gluten-free beers after his wife, Anne, was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease. Their son, and other family members and friends, were also found to have a gluten intolerance or Celiac’s. Mike’s first gluten-free beer recipe was therefore the Blonde Annie, named after his wife. His gluten-free lemon pale won a gold medal at the 2001 Great American Beer Festival.

Great Frontier Brewing Company is opening its 15-barrel brew house and tap room in the Lakewood area on August 21st, in what was once a Meineke garage. The brewery will pump many types of beers, with 20 percent of the brewed volume serving its gluten-free menu.

The beers are defined according to strict FDA- guidelines on what constitutes gluten-free or gluten-reduced products. As explained on their website, Great Frontier’s gluten-free beers are made without wheat, barley, or rye and therefore contains less that 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Their gluten-reduced beers are made with malted barley, but processed to remove the gluten to below 20 ppm. In addition, Great Frontier also makes traditional (full gluten) beers besides their famous GF brews.

Having a brewery that specializes in gluten-free beers can help expand the horizons of all beer drinkers, gluten-tolerant or not. Overall, Great Frontier is joining a great team of local breweries that also brew a few gluten-free options, some whichcan be found on our microbrewery tour. If you want to experience more beer in the Denver area, contact us and join our walking beer tour of some of this city’s best brews!

 


Downtown Denver Rock Bottom

Downtown Denver Rock Bottom – Harbinger of Denver’s Growth?

 

The early ’90’s may have brought us grunge music and a tech bubble, but they also brought us the beginning of the craft beer and microbrewery explosion. Since 1991, no tour of Denver breweries could be complete without a visit to Downtown Denver’s Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. Back before brewpubs were a thing, the folks behind Rock Bottom had the good sense to combine two of the things people love most in the world – great food paired with craft beer. Is it a coincidence that Denver exploded with growth and culture immediately after Rock Bottom opened its doors? Is it possible that Colorado’s T-REX project was necessary because of all of the traffic Rock Bottom was creating?

Maybe that’s a bit much, but the fact remains that Rock Bottom started brewing, and Denver began a renaissance period that they’re still enjoying today. You can draw your own conclusions.

The key to Rock Bottom’s greatness, at all of their locations, is their focus on the locals. Local brewers and chefs work together to create a unique combination of flavors in their menus. An IPA made with Belgian yeast? A Kolsch made with three kinds of spicy chilies? Yes, and yes, and so many more. It’s an atmosphere of quiet revolution, without the well-earned attitude of being the guys who were there when the revolution started. They’d rather just blow you away with their great beers.

As they like to say, “life begins when ‘You’ve Hit Rock Bottom‘,” so it’s not an accident that we start our tours there. Before the Rockies and the Avalanche came to town, along with the other million people who moved in during the ’90’s, there was the Rock Bottom Brewery. Please contact us if you want to experience Rock Bottom and some of the other great breweries in Denver.

 


An ethnic history of Denver, as it relates to drinking

 

Ethnicity is a key to the history of Denver, and at the center of ethnicity are the saloons each group established, clustered around Larimer St.

There’s no better way to get a feeling for the origins of this town than via a history of Denver, as it relates to drinking. Early residents of Denver, no matter their ethnic origins, enjoyed a good beer. While all groups enjoyed beer, they enjoyed it most in the company of their own ethnic group, where they could relax and enjoy the comfort of their native languages and cultures.

Originally part of the Territory of Kansas, what became the Denver area was sparsely settled until 1858, when three different groups established settlements in the area. General William Larimer, a land speculator from eastern Kansas, jumped the St. Charles claim and staked his own one-mile square claim, renaming it “Denver” after the governor of the Territory of Kansas, James Denver.

Although Denver didn’t “pan out” as a mining community despite an initial flurry of activity, it grew rapidly as a supply hub once the Gold Rush began. General Larimer’s claim, and the saloons around Larimer St., were at the center of activity as immigrant communities found themselves at home in them. Various ethnic groups “relished their taverns as ethnic clubs and community centers for a wide range of social, political, and economic activities.”

By 1880, more than 1/3 of Denver saloons were German-owned. Inside these establishments, “customers could speak and sing German, enjoy German music and dance, read German newspapers and magazines, procure strudel and sauerkraut, and quaff German beer and wine.” The best-known of these German establishments was Turn Hall, established in 1889.

Germans were wealthy and politically powerful in Denver and enjoyed great influence until first, Prohibition in 1916, then World War II, diminished their influence. Because of their wealth and prominence in the saloon business of Denver, Prohibitionists targeted them, and many Germans lost their jobs in the liquor industry. Irrational hatreds related to the War made life even more difficult for Denver’s German population.

Nonetheless, Denver benefited from German music and culture — and enjoyed Bock Beer Day. In 1874, “Otto Heinrich ‘s saloon at Sixteenth and Larimer set the record for Bock Beer Day, serving some 3,000 glasses of beer, 50 loaves of bread, and 125 pounds of meat.”

Many Irish arrived as part of the railroad crews and settled in working class neighborhoods near the tracks. Also well-received, Irishmen soon established bars strategically placed between their homes near the tracks and their jobs. Irish saloons promoted Irish clubs and organizations, Gaelic literature, lectures and band music and distributed the Rocky Mountain Celt, the “only” Irish-American newspaper in the West.

By 1900, the Irish were less than 3% of Denver’s population, but they owned 10% of the bars. Irish political clout came from a triangular partnership between saloon owners, politicians and policemen. “Saloon-keeping Irish councilmen included James Doyle, John Conlon, Andrew Horan and William Gahan. Of these bartending aldermen, one of the most successful and long-lived was Eugene Madden. Madden served nine consecutive city council terms with strong support from his Larimer Street saloon and the nearby police department, where his brother was a captain.”

Like other ethnic groups, Jews found the liquor business relatively easy to enter. Albert Wongrowitz’s popular saloon and delicatessen, located next to a synagogue, was one of the first sources of kosher food. Despite anti-Semitism, Jewish immigrants, many originating from Germany, were successful in Denver. The fact that Denver elected a Jewish mayor in 1889 signified a relatively easier integration process. Blacks, Asians and Italians suffered from more violent and intensive discrimination.

Italians, recruited as cheap labor for the railroads and other industries, suffered from a more unwelcoming reception in Denver, but they, too, eased their entry by establishing saloons that served them as cultural centers.

Starting in tents and shacks in the bottomlands, and operating grocery carts and businesses, Italians, with the help of more well-established compatriots with whom they connected in the Italian saloons, eventually achieved success and moved into the tree-shaded neighborhoods of north Denver. Here they established popular restaurants and bars. Italians, who viewed consumption of alcohol as healthy, were largely unaffected by Prohibition, simply moving into their basements.

Finally, the Slavs (Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenians, Serbs, Croats, Poles, and Russians, including many Russian Jews and non-Slavic Germans from Russia) established a significant community in Denver. By 1920, the Russians became the single largest group immigrating to Colorado.

The Slavs settled in Globeville, the smelter factory town just north of Denver. As had other ethnic groups before them, the Slavs enjoyed their many saloons in Globeville, not only for the beverages but as community centers. Like the saloons in other poor areas, these also served as banks.

Among the many cultural institutions that immigrant groups brought to Denver, saloons were perhaps the most numerous and conspicuous. They played a key role in bringing their customers into American life and into the life of the city. Few immigrant taverns reappeared after Prohibition, but the effects of these influential business qua community centers remain.

In 1988, it became legal in Colorado to produce and sell beer to retail customers on the same premises. The WynkoopBrewing Company ran a close race against Carver Brewery to claim the title as the oldest micro-brewery in Denver.

John Hickenlooper, founder of the Wynkoop Brewing Company and now governor of the state, looks back on those anxious early days. He remembers the all-consuming effort required to open Wynkoop first, which it did on October 18, 1988, selling 6,000 cups of beer at 25 cents each.

Today Denver continues to enjoy its beer in its many micro-breweries. For more information or to schedule a micro-brewery tour, please contact us.

 


Wynkoop Brewing Company is a political hotspot

There’s a lot happening in Colorado’s capital city: Bills are signed, laws are passed, campaign stops are drawing crowds, and sometimes – if you’re lucky – you find a big time politician sitting at the bar next to you.

Last July, Wynkoop Brewing Company was taken by surprise when President Barack Obama decided to stoop in for a beer and a game of pool with Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper after a fundraising event.

The brewery told the Denver Post they didn’t receive any notice that the POTUS would be in that night.

Hickenlooper is thought to be more of a regular around Wynkoop. He founded it in 1988 before getting into politics in 2003 when he was elected as the City of Denver’s mayor. He held that office until being elected governor in 2011. He’s now in his second term.

The brewery was really at the forefront of the microbrew culture when it opened in LoDo. Hickenlooper left the geology field to venture into microbrews. His brewery is still going strong. Wynkoop offers 40 different styles of beer each year.

The two were drinking Rail Yard. It’s an amber ale and the brewery’s most popular beer.

For locals, mixing beer and politics seems pretty normal now. Hickenlooper chimed in when the White House released the recipes of the home brews Obama most enjoys.

“It’s none of my business and I don’t want to criticize the White House chef, but I think maybe they could use a little less honey,” he told the Atlantic.

Hickenlooper isn’t shy about his experience in the beer world.

The Denver Post even keeps a running list of the governor’s beer references. He hasn’t failed to somehow work in drinking into each of his State of the State speeches.

Wynkoop Brewing Company is one of the stops on our microbrew tours. Contact us for more information on this stop and others.


Denver’s Craft Beer Masters Know How to Get What They Need, Do You?

 

Are you a craft beer fan that watches CBS News and reads the Denver Business Journal? Then perhaps you’ve taken notice of the recent stories about yeast and hops. It seems that there is a shortage of both but never fear. There are a number of brew fans turned entrepreneurs who are willing to lend a hand and help beef up the Mile High City’s caches. So we don’t expect to see Denver’s finest brew masters shutting off their taps any time soon (Whew!).

Apparently, there are also companies out there who will be giving our region’s craft beer masters their own private stash of ingredients. What’s that mean for all of us? We suspect a large number of incredible, one-of-a-kind brews will be the likely result. But until then, we’ll have to content ourselves with what’s already on the menus in LoDo and RiNo.

And we can tell you from our Denver Microbrew Tour experiences, there are still a lot of fantastic combinations to choose from. For instance, there’s the Chocolate Rye Scotch Ale and Repeater at Ratio Beerworks. With chocolate and Munich malts at the forefront, they’re a perfect segue into fall. Be warned though, the Chocolate Rye Scotch Ale has more of anABV kick than the other. So it’s definitely an adult treat.

The Rockbottom, Wynkoop and Falling Rock have a few tricks and treats of their own. A few to put on your early autumn sampling list are Weizen, Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabeza, B3K Black Lager and English Barley Wine. Try them with or without seasonal fare. If you decide to go for the fare, think about ordering new and old-school favorites like steak sliders or wings.

To learn more about what our region’s craft brewers are doing to get the best ingredients despite the shortages, please contact us. We’d be glad to help you meet the men and women behind the brew madness in person and hear their tales.

 


Law and thirst shaped Denver’s beer history

 

By the time the frontier settlement of Denver was just two years old, following an initial mad dash to scoop up gold at the Platte River, there were already 35 saloons built and pouring. Pioneer Denver figured out just about everything in a local bar. Because constructing churches, schools and other community meeting halls lagged behind, Denver had no choice but to invent itself over drinks. The first city government gavelled itself to order at a saloon called the Apollo Hall, in the original Larimer Square. That was just respectable enough to get things going. However, the city fathers appear to have had the sense that some restraint might be in order, so an early law stipulated that booze couldn’t be sold on the streets or out of wagons and tents.

In the 20th century, a chain reaction started that would propel Denver to a unique status in the American craft beer revolution. In 1976, President Jimmy Carter signed a bill to adjust the legislation that had ended prohibition. The earlier repeal allowed citizens to legally make wine at home again starting in 1933, but it failed to mention beer, so home brewers were still practicing their hobby underground, with limited access to ingredients, supplies and recipes. At the time of the legalization of home brewing, a Boulder, Colorado resident and experienced brewing enthusiast named Charlie Papazian launched a homebrew newsletter, followed by writing a beer recipe book and then by forming national associations for both amateur and professional brewers, both based in Colorado. These steps led eventually to the massive gathering known as the Great American Beer Festival, still held annually in Denver. By welcoming top beers and brewers from other regions to town for this elite brewing competition every year, Denver’s local brewers may have gained an advantage in understanding brewing quality and diversity without having to get on an airplane themselves. Taste local examples with us and see if you agree.

The free-flowing history of Denver, as it relates to drinking, is full of delightful tales that we love to tell on our beer walking tours. Whether you are a visitor or a proud resident, a seasoned beer appreciator or a craft brew novice, contact us to walk Denver for a taste of beer history, along with guided sample flights that will let you find the current local brew you love the best.

 


RiNo District Continues to Attract Interesting, Denver Breweries

denver breweries

As RiNo continues to grow, we expect to see more Denver breweries popping up.

More than ever, it is a really good feeling knowing that the RiNo Arts District is part of our Denver Microbrew Tour offerings. The area’s list of Denver breweries just increased to include First Draft and New Belgium Brewing. Why is that so exciting? Well for us, any new place to kick back and sample a freshly released brew is cause for celebration.

First Draft, in particular, really has us mesmerized. A true testament to the power of freedom and choice, it gives new meaning to the phrase, “beer tasting.” Customers who visit have a chance to pay for their drinks in the most unconventional way. As such, everyone can sample away without fear of having to force down something they hate for the sake of not wasting money. And by the way, it’s already open for walking tour related business.

New Belgium Brewing is different from First Draft. First, it isn’t open yet and you won’t find craft beers sold by the ounce. However, when the doors do fling wide open in the future, they’ll be lots of sour beers on tap to keep everyone smiling. In meantime, sour beers are available at several other places in RiNo. Plus, there are old standbys, like French saisons and American standard ales too.

As RiNo continues to grow, we expect to see more Denver breweries popping up in the area alongside of restaurants and other establishments of note. One thing is clear, we’ll be watching with one hand on a craft beer mug and the other on our Denver Microbrew Tour’s office keyboard. As soon as we hear of interesting places getting ready to open along our tour route, we’ll be sure to share the news. To learn more about the existing stops on both of our ongoing tours, pleasecontact us in Denver today.


Breckenridge Brewery Giving Away Golden Tickets For First Tours

“There’s plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket, there’s only five of them in the whole world, and that’s all there’s ever going to be.”

Grandpa George said in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Breckenridge Brewery

Fifty lucky winners got golden tickets to the opening of Breckenridge Brewery’s new place.

There were only five golden tickets offered to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but the good news for Denver area residents is that fifty lucky golden tickets were awarded for the first official Breckenridge Brewery public tour.

The lucky fifty, plus one guest each, will enjoy an exclusive VIP tour, partake in the first public tapping of beer in the brand new tasting room, and receive goodie bags packed with brewery-related gifts.

The winners will be the first members of the public to see the new, $36 million brewery, set on a farm-like setting. The new brewery, at 6775 South Santa Fe Drive, is expected to draw beer drinkers from all over the metro area as well as out-of-state “craft beer tourists” who will see Breckenridge as a destination.

The Brewery’s new 12 acre campus includes the Farm House restaurant (which opened in May), the brewery itself, a tasting room, and stages for live music. The brewery design is a unique hybrid of European brewery and Colorado ranch influences.

Breckenridge, after its founding 25 years ago, has operated its primary production facility out of its headquarters at 471Kalamath Street in Denver for most of that time. Two years ago, they announced the move. The big grand opening and exclusive day for the lucky fifty golden ticket holders will be June 20.

Todd Thibault, Breckenridge Brewery Culture Czar, says,

“Being first at anything is great. We hope our Golden Tickets gives fifty people something to brag about, but most importantly, we just want to treat some folks to a really, really special experience.”

Simply contact us if you would like to know more about local Denver beer or to join us on our Denver Microbrew Tour.


River North Brewery Brings a Taste of Belgium to Colorado

river north brewery

River North has quickly become a favorite with the city’s craft beer aficionados.

It’s no secret that Belgium produces some of the best beers in the world. The good news is, you do not have to travel 5,000 miles in order to partake in the flavors of Belgian beer. You just have to find your way to the River North Brewery, at 2401 Blake St., #1. The brewery is situated about two blocks north of Coors Field, very close to the North River Arts District (RiNO).

Matt and Jessica Hess opened their award-winning brewery in February 2012. Matt’s brewing style is influenced by Belgian-style ales and American ales with a Belgian twist, and he adds an emphasis on barrel-aging.

“Early in my homebrewing career, I fell in love with Belgian yeast. Not only does it offer the widest variety of flavor profiles, but it also creates drier beers, allowing us to craft balanced and refined brews that are both drinkable and delicious.” – Matt Hess

River North offers brews in bottles, cans, and barrel-aged styles. The bottles come in 22 oz. offerings which are producedfive times a year. The barrel-aged beers are special and rare.

Brewmaster Hess generally produces one barrel-aged brew a month, in a run of about 120 cases. Some are annual, and some are never again produced. They’ve brewed everything from a rum-aged Quadrupel to a tequila-aged farmhouse style.

River North has quickly become a favorite with the city’s craft beer aficionados. Wednesday through Sunday, the breweryis visited by some of the city’s best food trucks, too, so you’ll have great local eats to go along with the delicious, locally brewed beer.

Simply contact us if you would like to know more about the local Denver beer scene, or to join us on our DenverMicrobeer Tour.


Brew Dogs No. 1 Denver Craft Beer Bar

falling rock tap house

During Brew Dogs’ adventures in Denver, the dogs ranked Falling Rock Tap House as their number one choice among their Top 5 beer bars.

James Watt and Martin Dickie of BrewDog Scotland, and hosts of the Esquire network hit show Brew Dogs, are drinking and brewing their way around the US, Europe, and Canada looking for unique brewing styles, pairing local cuisines with local beer, and spreading the love of the craft brewing phenomenon. During their adventures in Denver, the dogs ranked Falling Rock Tap House as their number one choice amongst their Top 5 beer bars. The brew masters love deconstructing craft beers, understanding what local influences are impacting specific brewing styles, and where locals and visitors are drinking their favorite brews.

The dogs typically partner with their favorite brewery in the area, sample the brewery’s award-winning offerings, and work with their resident engineer, David Donley, to formulate a plan to make their own quintessential local beer. Their Denver beer was naturally a wild west inspiration, using black angus meat smoked malts, solar power panels to run the brewing operations and represent Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine, and a pale ale style foundation. Their meat smoked pale aleincorporated citrus notes from prickly pear cactus, a rich meaty flavor from Colorado black angus beef that fed on grass and spent malt, and a deep smokiness from the local applewood smoked malted barley. The breweries they visit, the brewers they brew with, and the brew pubs they drink in, all had one thing in common, amazing Colorado craft beer.

The craft brewing industry is less of a competitive market, and more like a supportive family of brothers and sisters, all eager to make excellent craft beer, support each other, share the beautiful nectar being bottled and canned out of their breweries, and encourage people to enjoy truly great beer again. So, please contact us today to take a guided tour of Denver’s finest brew pubs, tap rooms, microbreweries, and breweries to sample local offerings, earn about the city’s fascinating history, and visit the No.1 ranked craft beer bar in Denver the Falling Rock Tap House.


Page 2 of 3123