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denver breweries

Denver Breweries: Great Hang Outs For Novices and Cicerones Alike

 

People often wonder, “Do you have to be a cicerone in order to enjoy walking tours of Denver breweries?” In short, “No, cicerone status is not necessary when it comes to making the most of the Mile High City’s sudsiest of spots. Our guides have more than enough knowledge of beers, breweries and Denver’s finest venues to cover everyone who signs up for one of our specialty tours.

However, there are actions craft beer drinkers may take to help improve their knowledge of the brewing industry after the tours. For example, picking up magazines, DVDs and books about the topic may help. There are a number of them already in print and countless others scheduled to come out in the future. A few well-received ones that are already in print are listed below:

  • Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher
  • Beer Companion by Michael Jackson
  • The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks by Joshua Bernstein

And no, libraries, bookstores and online sites are not the only locations where such reading materials may be found.

Sometimes Denver’s breweries host book signings wherein authors bring their respective manuscripts. It happened throughout this year’s Great American Beer Festival and it’s likely to happen again. The list of authors known to have these types of events in Denver includes, but isn’t confined to Jeff Alworth, Christian DeBenedetti, Mirella Amato and BryanJansing.

And don’t worry, if one of them does decide to return to Denver breweries for another book signing, our tour guides will make a note of it. Depending on the pace of the tour, it may also be possible to speak with area brewers and get their perspectives on cicerone related topics too. To learn more about tours that cicerones would be proud to call their own, please contact us today.

 


craft beer

Don’t Let Craft Beer ABV Concerns Keep You from Sampling Denver’s Finest

 

Have you heard the latest froth blowing off the tops of pints across the nation? Law enforcement and various public health experts have been teaming up to discuss one element of craft beer, it’s ABV. As this FOX video proves, stories about the two groups’ concerted efforts to educate America’s hops faithful have been cropping up on major news networks since early October.

We suspect the timing of the push has a lot to do with four of the biggest, concurrent drinking holidays, starting with Halloween. All across Denver, craft beer manufacturers and thirsty residents’ favorite hang out spots have been gearing up for it as well as the other top three. You guessed it. We’re talking about Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

People worry the characteristically high alcohol content coupled with amazing flavors will cause some people to drink and drive. We’re hoping that they drink and walk responsibly instead. At Denver Microbrew Tour, we don’t believe in drinking and driving. So, all of our brewery tours involve walking throughout scenic Denver. As a consequence, participants may drink in the autumn beauty too. And we’re not simply signaling out the leaves.

RiNo and other craft beer laden areas of Denver are blessed with more than fall colors. Many businesses choose to add autumn art work to the idyllic picture, including murals and outdoor sculptures. Some of the bar and brew pub interiors happen to be well decorated too. Thus, our autumn walking tours are truly a feast for craft beer lovers’ senses.

Scheduling a safe tour that allows everyone to drink and walk responsibly is easy. Merely reach out to our craft beer tourguides online or by phone, the sooner, the better. And we’ll set aside tickets to one of our most-loved, craft beer tours, which generally occur on the weekends. Hope to see all the holiday beer lovers at our starting locations this week!

 


craft beer

How This Denver Brewery Is Planning To Take Over The Craft Beer World

 

When people think of Denver, they now think of delicious and innovative craft beer. This great beer reputation is in large part due to the efforts of incredible breweries like Great Divide. Great Divide was started in 1994 by brewer Brian Dunn, and Great Divide’s first batch of beer won an award at the Great American Beer Festival. The brewery went on to earn accolades and admiration worldwide, and was even named the 7th best brewery in the world by Beeradvocate.com.

With beers like Titan, Yeti and Colette, it’s not surprising to hear about Great Divide’s success. For years, Great Divide ran its brewing operations out of a small building located at 2201 Arapahoe St. in Denver, but has now completed the first phase of its major expansion effort in Denver’s River North district. The new facility has an awesome new tap room called Barrel Bar that boasts 16 taps and an awesome patio.

Their second location is also home to a new state-of-the-art packaging facility, canning line, barrel aged and sour beer storage(yum). Great divide is also rumored to be collaborating with Denver sour beer brewery Crooked Stave on a new beer soon. We can’t wait.

Want to check out awesome breweries like Great Divide? The Denver Microbrew Tour is a guided walking tour through downtown Denver, Colorado’s historic LODO (lower downtown) and Ballpark Neighborhood districts. The tour includes beer samplings at several microbreweries and a local tap room, info on everything you’d ever want to know about beer, a coupon for a pint of your favorite beer on the tour, and local Denver history. For more info on The Denver Microbrew tour,contact us today!

 


Coming to Denver: A New Belgium Pilot Brewery

When it comes to Denver breweries, the city already has a lot to offer: on top of its amazing beer history, there is currently a strong network of microbreweries to fuel the beer-loving city. And with a great atmosphere of brews, experimentation, and creativity, who could blame non-native breweries who want to become neighbors?

As recently announced, New Belgium will be moving a new pilot 10-barrel brewery to Denver’s Riverside District, sharing space with The Source Hotel. While new Belgium is anything but “micro,” the new brewery will also bring new small-batched brews and barrel-aged on site, as part of the company’s experimental vision the brewery will take part in. In addition, it will all be housed as part of The Source Hotel, a new renovation project in the RiNo district that’s bringing life to an old brick foundry. On the roof top, New Belgium will share the space with The Source’s culinary complex (and pool) by serving its brews with small plates in their beer garden. On the 8th floor, New Belgium will age its beers in barrels. Overall, it will blend in well with the artsy, industrial look of the charming district.

Still, don’t go flocking to just the New Belgium tap room once it opens. Downtown Denver is teeming with great localmicrobreweries, all of which you could visit in Denver’s RiNo and LoDo districts on one of our beer tours. To learn more about how you can explore and taste local brews in downtown Denver, contact us.


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.

 


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