The Best Microbreweries
in Denver



If there's one thing Colorado knows best, it's beer. In fact, it knows it so well that Denver has become one of the top beer destinations in the entire country! This helpful guide will explain exactly what a microbrewery is, how they differ from other breweries, and showcase the top microbreweries in Denver.   

We'll also give you a snapshot of the top breweries, taprooms, and brewpubs in Denver that are so unique you'll want to visit them as soon as possible.

The 'Mile High' capital itself is home to 150 breweries, while the state of Colorado is home to about 350 breweries and 82 microbreweries (which we will dive into deeper soon). They also host The Great American Beer Festival annually, which is dubbed the largest beer festival in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Whether you're visiting Denver or are a seasoned local, consider grabbing a cold one at a few of these awesome breweries next time you're craving something new and refreshing.

Thirsty yet?

 

What is a Microbrewery?


Brewers Association Logo with a Beer

The Brewers Association Maintains the Definitions of a Microbrewery and Other
Segments of the Craft Beer Industry

As the name suggests, a microbrewery is different than a traditional brewery since it produces a smaller amount of product or a 'micro' amount.  A microbrewery is considered a type of craft brewery.  

To be considered a microbrewery, a beer maker must produce less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year and sell 75% or more of its beer off-site.

Typically, these limited production breweries produce specialty beers and only sell their products locally. Since microbreweries are much smaller than other breweries, they have extra time to "craft" many different flavors of beers. Compared to a regional brewery, microbreweries often prioritize taste and perfection over production size.

There are three ways that microbreweries sell to the public. They can use one or more of these following methods:

  1. Three-Tier System which means it goes from the brewer to wholesaler to retailer to the consumer.
  2. The Two-Tier System from which the brewer acts as a wholesaler to retailer to the consumer.
  3. Directly to the Consumer through carry-out/on-site taproom/restaurant sales.

When a microbrewery gets extremely popular, sometimes they're picked up by national distributors and production exceeds 15,000 barrels of beer per year. If that happens they immediately lose their 'microbrewery' classification, however, if they keep their tradition of brewing specialty beers they're then known as a 'craft brewery'.

What makes microbreweries so exciting is that they love to experiment with different styles, ingredients, and fermentation processes.

The end result? Delicious, unique, one-of-a-kind flavored beers waiting to be devoured.

 

What are Other Types of Breweries?



Craft Brewery
In order to be considered a craft brewery, a business must be:

  • A BREWERY as defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
  • SMALL. It must have annual production of less than 6 million barrels (or 186 million gallons) of beer per year) .
  • INDEPENDENT, meaning that "Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer."  Essentially, that just means that if a macro brewery like MillerCoors purchases more than 25% of a small brewery, it is no longer considered independent.  

"Craft brewery" is an umbrella term that encompases 6 types of subcategories: microbreweries, brewpubs, taproom breweries, regional breweries, contract brewing companies, and alternating proprietors.  Below we go into a bit more detail on the most common market segments.  

Taproom Brewery
A taproom brewery sells 25 percent or more of its beer on-site. It's often dispensed directly from the brewery's storage tanks and available to be sold to-go. Similar to a microbrewery, they don't operate any food services but may have food trucks on-site at certain times.

Brewpub
A brewpub is a restaurant-brewery which sells 25 percent or more of its beer on-site directly from the brewery's storage tanks. Similar to a taproom they usually offer beer-to-go. What makes a brewpub different than a taproom is that they operate significant food services on-site.

Regional Brewery
A regional brewery is defined as a brewery which produces between 15,000-6,000,000 of barrels per year. If a brewery produces more than 6 million barrels per year it is then considered a 'macro' brewery such as the company AB-Inbev, which produces Budweiser.

 

Top Microbreweries in Denver, CO


Tivoli Brewing Company's Main Taproom - Image courtesy RB+B Architects

Tivoli Brewing Company's Main Taproom - Image courtesy RB+B Architects

Tivoli Brewing Company

With over 150 years of Colorado brewing experience, their roots run deep as they continue to follow in the footsteps of their German forefathers. One of the coolest parts of their story is that Tivoli Brewing Company recently reopened in 2015 in the same spot that it once started many, many years ago.

Tivoli takes pride in knowing that when they serve a customer a beer it will be crisp, smooth, and bursting with flavors. They believe beer has a soul, and you'll quickly see why with all the new and old energy their unique building and brews bring.

Some of their top beers include 'Brut-iful' IPA, 'She's My Cherry Pie' Lager and 'Bohemian Girl'.

River North Brewery's new Blake Street taproom, at 34th and Blake

River North Brewery's new Blake Street taproom

River North Brewery

Founded on tradition, River North Brewery is all about independent, local, and authentic beers.

They have up to 16 beers on tap which rotate frequently and also offer cans, growlers, and bottles to-go. It's a very family friendly atmosphere and even your four-legged pups are able to join in on the fun! Various food trucks are known to visit on event days.

If you enjoy classic Belgian style beers along with rustic taproom vibes you'll love River North's Brewery.

Make sure to try their blind taste test winner 'Mountain Haze', 'Colorado IPA', and their seasonal Halloween staple 'Nightmare Fuel' (imperial stout brewed with coffee).

A couple of 14er Brewing Company's best selling beers

A couple of 14er Brewing Company's best selling beers

14er Brewing Company

This microbrewery all started between two high school friends who dedicated their free time between classes to brewing up beers.

Through college, they continued the hobby and eventually launched a brewery themselves with zero money and zero investors. 14er Brewing Company was born!

The founders wanted a beer that fit their active lifestyles and didn't weigh them down or make them feel sluggish like other beers did. So they created a beer with high flavor and extreme drinkability and named it "Uniquely Crushable"!

Pure genius.

The beer garden and industrial brewhouse spaces are located in the heart of Denver's brewery neighborhood of RiNo. They feature 31 taps which are seasonal and constantly rotating with awesome experimental beers.

Colorado is all about adventure and their beers definitely keep up with the ride. A few favorites are the 'Mt Massive IPA' and 'Key Lime Cream Ale'.

Denver Beer Co.

Believe it or not, Denver Beer Co. was born in a garage - starting with batches of homebrew and a deep love of beer.

They're all about using the freshest ingredients combined with old and new world styles. Denver Beer Co.'s beers change seasonally and rotate every Friday to ensure even their die-hard regulars are getting new sips each week. But don't fret, they do keep favorites on tap all year long.

They have three locations including the original taproom on Platte street in Denver, their Canworks production facility, and another taproom in Olde Towne Arvada. You can stop by the Canworks location to catch all the live action of the canning process or the Olde Town Arvada location to relax outside on the spacious patio. Denver Beer Co is all about high-quality, flavorful beer shared with the ones you love. See for yourself why this place is worth the hype.

Banded Oak Brewing Co.

Whether you're a hardcore beer lover or a casual patio drinker, Banded Oaks has something everyone will enjoy.

Their specialty is wine barrel aged beer thanks to their family friends located in Napa Valley, CA who provide access to wine barrels. Banded Oak brews have an incredibly unique oak flavor that's constantly evolving.

While oak beers are their specialty, they have many other excellent choices on tap. Some of those include a traditional Kolsch, Belgian Blonde, and a Blood Orange Gose which is extremely refreshing in the scorching summer months.

Renegade Brewing Company

It all started with a homebrewing kit given as a Christmas present...and the rest is history!

After experimenting at home, Brian (the owner) realized his passion was brewing beers packed with creative flavors and decided to open his own brewery. Community and good times are the focal points of this microbrewery.

The hope is that when you're visiting Renegade you'll not only love the beer but also enjoy comradery among friends and have a sense of belonging. Some of their top beers are 'Hazeberry', '1916', and 'Evolet' (a beer/wine hybrid). At Renegade Brewing Company you'll find their taps always rotating along with many staples available year round.

Great Divide Brewing Company - RiNo Barrel Bar

Great Divide Brewing Company opened in 1994 and is one of the oldest breweries in downtown Denver, CO.

Located just a mile down the road in the popular RiNo neighborhood is their own microbrewery called the 'Barrel Bar' which offers gorgeous views of the skyline and mountains. It's also home to a new state-of-the-art packaging facility, canning line, barrel-aged and sour beer storage, and intimate taproom.

The Barrel Bar features a full lineup of Great Divide Beers, including seasonal, IPA's, barrel aged, and limited release beers. They offer daily tours to give you an up close and personal experience of Denver's newest and largest packaging brewery. Bottom's up, this place is the real deal.

Thirsty Monk

The Thirsty Monk has a few other locations in Oregon and North Carolina, however, their special 12 Barrel Production microbrewery is located near Denver's Uptown in their City Park West neighborhood.

This is where all the magic happens.

Seasonal, specialty, and side-project beers are flowing along with an intimate taproom and outdoor patio with a comforting fire.

Some of their top brews include Belgian-Rooted Modern Ales, an 'Abby Blonde', 'Holy Wit', and 'Brother Noah'.

Our Lady Justice Brewing Company

Imagine if each beer you drank was making the world a better place.

Well, at Our Lady Justice, that's exactly their mission! The 3 ladies that opened this gem are all about giving back. All proceeds of this microbrewery (after necessary brewing costs) go directly to help Colorado women and girls through grants. How cool is that? Every beer you drink is literally changing a life.

They custom brew some pretty awesome creations, including one that's completely changed the game - 'Glitter Beer'.

They're known for custom brewing beers for special events such as weddings or parties. There is one catch - they don't have a brick and mortar taproom to visit quite yet, but you can find them at many local events around the city so keep your eyes peeled.

Giving back to your community while enjoying one-of-a-kind beers? We call that a win-win.

 

Top Taproom Breweries in Denver, CO


Ratio Beerwork's Punk Rock Inspired Taproom

Ratio Beerwork's Punk Rock Inspired Taproom | Image courtesy cyties.com

Ratio Beerworks

Starting back in the '90s a group of friends traveled on tour and worked together while paving their own paths in life. Later, they learned the fine art of crafting beer in Germany, came back to the U.S. and channeled their DIY attitudes by opening a rad brewery called Ratio Beerworks.

This microbrewery is as eclectic as the city and has more than enough delicious beer to go around. Ratio Beerworks is all about providing unique beers, but they still keep the flavors pretty familiar by doing twists on American classics.

Their music/art scene will keep your senses flowing too as their taproom plays live punk and indie music regularly.

Best of all - their patio has been ranked as one of the top 32 outdoor drinking spots in the city! Bonus points: your beloved pup can tag along too.

Our Mutual Friend Brewery in RiNo

Our Mutual Friend Brewery in RiNo

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company

There was one goal was in mind when they started this brewery in 2012 and that was to create a place for the community to gather and connect.

Located in the up and coming neighborhood of RiNo, Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company has a 7 barrel brewing system with traditional style beers as well as fun experimental ones which they love releasing right inside their brewery.

They know what people want - a safe great space, welcoming ambiance, and mouth-watering beers to keep you coming back time and time again. Their deep relationships with Colorado hop and barley growers has led them to offer as many 100% Colorado grown beers as possible.

They've won numerous awards and even took gold at the 2018 World Beer Cup! Try the 'Riot of Color', it's a spunky sour ale with mango and lime.

Some of Jagged Mountain's delicious beers

Some of Jagged Mountain's delicious beers

Jagged Mountain

Calling all adventurous souls!

The Jagged Mountain Brewery pushes the limits and is founded by a team that loves to take risks. The industrial, urban atmosphere is the ideal vibe for the variety of beers they offer.

A few beers you'll find on their menu include 'Snowmelt', 'Squishy', and the 'Big Apple'. All of their beers are locally-sourced using the highest quality ingredients and the taps are ever-changing.

Declaration Brewing Company - Preamble Taproom

Declaration's founders are all about history. They dug deep and discovered that bread was actually not the first grain to be consumed by humans, it was beer!

They believe this is true based on the fact that you need concentrated yeast to make bread, which comes from the fermentation of beer. Curiosity got the best of the founders and they discovered a man from the 18th century named Yeissac Brewton who devoted most of his life to beer. Many of the beverages served at Declaration Brewing are derivatives of recipes that Brewton had left to recover.

So this isn't just a brewery, it's packed full of rich history too!

Their taphouse called Preamble Taproom features a 5,000 sq. ft. beer garden with an internal food truck, 40 taps, TV's, live music, yard games, and even keg urinals in the men's room. It's certainly unique and located in the up and coming Denver neighborhood of Overland.

Customers can enjoy their Signature Series as well as their Experimental Series which include barrel-aged and sour beers.

Odell Brewing Company's RiNo Taproom

Odell Brewing Company's RiNo Taproom

Odell Brewing Co. - RiNo Taproom

Beer is the reason these guys get out of bed in the morning. If that's not enough passion for you, then we don't know what is!

Odell's roots are based on English styles and offer exciting flavors that are sure to entice your taste buds. On the menu you'll find it all, for example, one beer is infused with real dill and sea salt (The Real Dill Pils), while another has notes of OJ, pineapple, and peach (Turntable IPA).

 

Top Brewpubs in Denver, CO


Bierstadt Lagerhaus' Amazing German-style eatery

Bierstadt Lagerhaus' Amazing German-style eatery

Bierstadt Lagerhaus/Rackhouse Pub

Sometimes classics are simply the best.

If you like traditions, The German brewpub Bierstadt Lagerhaus in RiNo will make your heart skip a beat. Their selections are simple and use just four ingredients - water, yeast, malt, and hops.

They're not into adding fruits or flavors to their brews, it's all about ease and no-frills.

They offer both a light and dark beer. Their tasting room, Rackhouse Pub, is in the center of their production facility and serves Bierstadt Lagerhaus beer along with food and cider from their partner C Squared.

Enjoy playing games and chilling with friends in this laid-back, industrial setting while eating some delicious all-American grub.

Bar at Rock Bottom - Only serves beer made on site

Bar at Rock Bottom - Only serves beer made on site

Rock Bottom

The crafters at Rock Bottom take their jobs very seriously. Part art, part science, and a whole lot of "beer obsession" goes into what they do here.

All beer is made on-site and any of it that doesn't pass the taste test gets dumped instantly. Their beer is never exposed to light, heat, or oxygen so maximum freshness is always guaranteed.

Rock Bottom is truly tank to table style, so there is no beer sitting around in kegs or bottles for months at a time. If you're a true beer connoisseur, you'll want to put this brewery on your list. Plus, they have awesome food!

Wynkoop Brewing Company - Denver's original brewpub, from 1988

Wynkoop Brewing Company - Denver's original brewpub, from 1988

Wynkoop Brewing Company

It all began with four guys who weren't afraid to shake things up in the beer world.

Wynkoop is well-known in Denver for its innovative brewskies and helping revitalize the LoDo neighborhood. Wynkoop is famous for adding interesting things into their beers such as gummy bears, green chiles, and Rocky Mountain Oysters.

It's a must see warehouse style brewery located right in the heart of the city. Pair your beer and watch as your taste buds cheer with a delectable plate of fish and chips, beef burger, or Thai Curry veggie bowl.

 

Get Your Buzz on at Denver Microbrew Tours

Microbreweries, taprooms, and brewpubs certainly have a character and unique craft that large scale breweries simply can't compete with. Did you see a favorite brewery on our list? It's hard to choose just one, and you shouldn't have to. The best way to explore multiple breweries in one day is to book a tour at Denver Microbrew. We offer two separate tours with each one offering a different experience.

One of the tours we offer is the RiNo Beer and Graffiti Tour which will immerse you into the hottest and newest breweries in Denver's most up and coming neighborhood. Not only will you receive a memorable guided tour filled with cool art murals and amazing stories, but you'll also get to taste 10+ beers, visit 4 different breweries, hear about the local businesses on route, and learn all about the brewing process.

On the flip side, if you'd rather be close to downtown in Denver's historic LoDo (lower downtown) and Ballpark districts, the LoDo Craft Beer Tour is calling your name. You'll learn all about the history of beer/how it's made/many different types, scandalous Denver facts, and exactly how Denver has become known as the "Napa Valley of Beer".

Both tours are approximately 1.5 miles, only $40 per person, and are led by passionate tour guides who really know their stuff!

Ready to get your craft beer buzz on? These unique breweries and more are all waiting for you to explore. Book your spot today for an unforgettable tour! Contact us today for more information, we're always happy to help.

 

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RiNo Beer and Grafitti
(RiNo)


Image

Craft Beer and Street Art Converge

Explore Denver’s hottest new breweries in the hip RiNo Art District, and experience Denver’s burgeoning street art scene on this 2.5 hour guided walking tour. Visit 3 breweries and 1 cidery, taste 10+ beers / ciders.

  • When:
    • Sundays: 12:15 PM
  • Cost:
    • $40 per person

Private Groups
(Anywhere)


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Limited only by your imagination.

Be it a corporate team-building event or a social gathering, we create fun and unique bonding experiences for your group that enable you to experience Denver in a whole new way.  

  • When:
    • Nearly any time, any day
  • Cost:
    • Starting at $50 per person

 

Our Brewery Tours



LoDo Craft Beer Tour
(Downtown)


Image

A Historical Denver Craft Beer Experience

The original Denver Microbrew Tour route, this 2.5 hour guided walking tour delves into scandalous Denver history and delicious craft beers. Visit 4 top craft beer spots, taste 10+ beers along the way.

  • When:
    • Fridays: 3:15 PM
    • Saturdays: 12:00 PM and 3:15 PM
    • Sundays: 3:15 PM
  • Cost:
    • $40 per person

More about our LoDo Beer Tour…

 



RiNo Beer and Graffiti
(RiNo Arts District)


Image

Craft Beer and Street Art Converge

Explore Denver’s hottest new breweries in the hip RiNo Art District, and experience Denver’s burgeoning street art scene on this 2.5 hour guided walking tour. Visit 3 breweries and 1 cidery, taste 10+ beers / ciders.

  • When:
    • Sundays: 12:15 PM
  • Cost:
    • $40 per person

Learn More about our RiNo Route…

 



Private Groups
(Anywhere)


Image

Limited only by your imagination.

Be it a corporate team-building event or a social gathering, we create fun and unique bonding experiences for your group that enable you to experience Denver in a whole new way.
Learn More about our Private Tours…