The Top Breweries In Downtown Denver
Denver attracts visitors from all around the world, with more people flocking to the Mile High city every year. 2017’s visitor log clocked in at 31.7 million, representing a 12 year growth in tourism for Denver. What brings so many people here? While there are many answers to that question--the mountains and the myriad of adventures that await, for example--a major contributor is the local brewery scene. Denver is home to 148+ breweries, with many located right downtown. If you’re interested in exploring the top breweries in downtown Denver, read on.
Denver Is The Napa Valley of Beer
Colorado is second only to California with the number of breweries within its borders. With 335 in the state, it’s easy to say that Coloradans are into beer. But what makes Colorado such a beer lovers destination is the quality of the beer brewed here. At the 2018 World Beer Cup Awards (yes, it’s a real thing, and yes, it’s like the Olympics of beer), Colorado won nine gold, seven silver, and thirteen bronze medals. For context, 2,500+ breweries submitted beer from around the world and Colorado breweries emerged as winners.
How did Colorado’s breweries become such leaders in the industry? Local support helps--Colorado residents love their craft beer and aren’t afraid to show it with their wallets. A history of beer entrepreneurs crazy enough to take their home brews and share them with the public contributes to the maturity of the industry; home brewing only became legal in 1978 and just one year later, the founders of Boulder Beer launched the start of the craft beer revolution. While craft beer is just now starting to emerge in some parts of the country, it’s already 40+ years old in Colorado. This track record means more trained brewers, more business leaders knowledgeable about how to break into the industry and succeed, and more breweries ready to take risks and try new things.
Visit the Best of Downtown with Denver Microbrew Tour
Ready to sample the local scene for yourself? Visit Denver’s best downtown breweries with a Denver Microbrew Tour. We define downtown Denver as encompassing the Lower Downtown (LoDo), Ballpark, and Union Station neighborhoods. Even this specific slice of town is full of breweries--how can a visitor sort through them all to find Denver’s best of the best?
Join a Denver Microbrew Tour. We offer two highly-rated options:
- The LoDo Craft Beer Tour: Sample 10+ beers at 4 breweries on this 1.5 mile guided walking tour. This tour is great for a first-time visitor to Denver, as we cover the history of Denver’s beer scene (while sprinkling in scandalous historical tidbits about the Mile High City). We recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes and bringing plenty of sunscreen--we’re at elevation here, making the sun particularly intense. The tour costs $40 and is offered Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
- The RiNo Beer and Graffiti Tour: The River North (or RiNo) neighborhood borders downtown and is home to a growing creative craft beer scene. The former warehouse district is turning over into an hip neighborhood that attracts artists and innovators. In addition to visiting breweries, tour participants will sample cider at a local cidery and hear the history of RiNo’s distinctive street art and graffiti scene. The tour costs $40 and is available on Sundays.
LoDo’s (Lower Downtown) Top Breweries
Rock Bottom Brewery
We start many LoDo tours at Rock Bottom Brewery, and for good reason. This is the original location of the now-successful chain and is home to an award-winning brewer, John McClure. His unique brews have won multiple awards at the Great American Beer Festival as well as at the World Beer Cup. McClure shares his advice: “Successful brewers must be a jack of all trades: part plumber, part electrician and hone skills as you go.”
What makes Rock Bottom a can’t-miss brewery in Denver? Beyond the food, which takes bar food to the next level, the brewery offers limited small batch beers on site; McClure often has 15+ beers brewing at a time. Try their “Molly Brown’s Titanic Ale,” a malty porter, or if IPA’s are more your style, try the “Falcon IPA,” a crowd-pleasing and citrusy pour. The tasting room also offers cask conditioned brews, seasonals, and uniquely twists on classics, like the “Chili Kolsch,” which is infused with Pueblo chilis.
Denver Chop House and Brewery
Located next to Coors Field, Denver Chop House and Brewery is home to fine dining and house-brewed beers. Try the “Inverted Jenny,” an Imperial IPA, or the “Amber Ale” made with Cascade hops. While nitro offerings may just be hitting the big time in the last couple years, Denver Chop House and Brewery has led the way, offering their “Velvet” nitro series for the past 19 years. The Velvet series changes seasonally; they currently offer a nitro Amber Ale.
Wynkoop Brewing Company
What do a successful downtown brewery, twenty-two pool tables, and the current governor of Colorado all have in common? The origin story of our next stop, Wynkoop Brewing Company. Established in 1988 (in what used to be one of the worst parts of Denver) by four guys who “wanted to make really good beer,” Wynkoop Brewing Company has become a cornerstone to the Colorado brewing community. While their choice of location seemed unusual at the time, the founders must have had a crystal ball, as they are now right in the midst of the booming LoDo area, located right by Union Station and Coors Field. From the start, they tried their hand at unusual brews, diving into mead, cream stout, and other unique offerings; visitors could try the latest innovation while playing pool at Wynkoop Billiards. To this day, the brewery is still known for pushing the envelope with each batch of beer they make.
A visit to the brewery takes you back into history. Built in 1899, the Mercantile Building still stands today as Wynkoop’s home and a testament to Denver’s railroad ties. Enjoy a “Rail Yard,” their best-selling amber ale, or venture into the unknown with their latest bold brews, which could include the “Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout,” a stout made with--we kid you not--roasted bull testicles. Whatever you try, follow the company’s advice: “Don’t drink boring beer.”
Falling Rock Tap House
While our last pick not technically a brewery, it is Colorado’s best beer bar. Their motto says it all: “No crap on tap.” With 92 taps and more than 130 bottled options to choose from, you can tour the Colorado beer scene from the comfort of your bar stool. Their menu is constantly changing with availability and seasonality, so every visit is different. Enjoy their outdoor patio or venture inside for a game of pool, darts, or to see Falling Rock founder Chris Black’s personal collection of thousands of unique beers that have been served over the years.
Ballpark’s Top Breweries
Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery
Founded by travel and adventure buddies, Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery bills itself as a place for adventurous people and adventurous beers. Their brewing menu reflects this spirit, with ever changing and innovative offerings. Try “Common Roots,” a saison with spruce tips and pink peppercorn, or the “Sweet Huffy, Bro,” a grapefruit radler. Want something even more unique? Consider the 2018 specialty brew, “Sadler’s Banana Hammock,” a Belgian Triple with citrus and 100 pounds of donuts! Whatever you enjoy, try pairing it with an outdoor adventure. As the brewery proclaims, “Earn your beer!”
Great Divide Brewing Company
Founded by Brian Dunn after his world travels broadened his brewing practices, Great Divide Brewing Company continues to thrive since it first opened its doors in 1994. Located in the heart of the Ballpark neighborhood, they recently expanded into nearby RiNo with Barrel Bar and a new packaging facility. The company is dedicated to remaining a downtown Denver brewery and are proudly independently owned and operated.
Some of their year-round favorites include the “Yeti, ” an Imperial Stout and the “Colette,” a Farmhouse Ale. Those who love specialty beer will love their various offerings: the seasonal six-pack, “Tank Farm,” and “Yeti Clan,” which offers four twists on the Yeti per year. One favorite is the Chai Yeti, available September through December. Many of these seasonals are only available in the tap room--sample what catches your eye while you’re there!
Woods Boss Brewery
Step into Woods Boss Brewery and feel like you’ve been transported to the mountains. The tap room is decorated with natural finishes and woodwork that bring to mind the great outdoors.
Given that you’ve just entered from the heart of downtown, that’s quite a feat! Those hoping to soak up the sun can chill on the patio, beer in hand. Brews rotate seasonally, with current offerings including a hazy New England IPA, a Saison, and a Fruited Kettle Sour.
Union Station and LoHi’s Top Breweries
Denver Beer Company
This German-inspired beer garden is a perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon, soaking up the sun while enjoying their ales and lagers. They tend towards small batch brews, so don’t wait to try their seasonals, as they may be out by your next visit. The beer garden is draped with hops growing overhead; check out their food truck schedule to know what snacks you could enjoy during your visit, or feast on one of the giant pretzels sold at the bar. Their year-round favorites include the “Princess Yum Yum Raspberry Kolsch,” because, as they say, “there is a pretty pink princess in all of us.” The “Incredible Pedal” IPA is perfect for a summer afternoon, and the “Pretzel Assassin” Amber Lager fits in perfectly with fall weather.
In 2011, the founders decided to establish a brewery specializing in German style lagers and ales. Prost Brewing launched to great success and is now open in both Denver and Ft. Collins. The equipment was all purchased from a German brewery that was closing its doors; the copper brewing equipment was shipped from Germany to Denver and creatively made to fit the Prost space. With plentiful awards, rare brews, and a prime location in LoHi, Prost has quickly become a local favorite.
Those who love wheat beer won’t want to miss the Weissbier, or Vice Beer. Prost won the 2015 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) gold medal for the South German-Style Hefeweizen category with this banana and clove flavored specialty. Another gold medal winning beer is the Keller Pils, which took top marks at the 2013 GABF for the Keller/Zwickel-Style Keller-Pills category.
When you think of Mexican beer, perhaps Corona comes to mind. At Cerveceria Colorado, they are taking your preconceptions about Mexican-inspired beer and turning it on its head. They take “traditional Mexican ingredients, flavors, and processes to create innovative styles of beer,” like the “CoColimon,” a kettle sour with lime and coconut. Try their limited release “Senor Pina,” a pineapple blonde ale, for a taste of summer, or the “Churro Stout.” Whatever you sample here, it is likely to be different than anything you’ve ever had before. Pair a stop by Cerveceria Colorado with their neighbor, Denver Beer Company.
Zuni Street Brewing Company
Located in the LoHi neighborhood, this brewery offers between 15-20 different beers at any time. Enjoy the patio and yard games, such as giant Jenga and cornhole, and sample a bite from the food truck of the day. With offerings ranging from blonde ales to stouts, there is something for everyone. Fans of the Lord of the Rings will enjoy a few themed names, such as the “Sour BombadAle,” a strawberry rhubarb sour, or the “Lady Galadriale,” a oak-aged sour brown flavored with strawberries.
Cheers to the Best Breweries in Downtown Denver
Are you ready to try the city’s best beers, from IPA’s to special edition cask-ales to funky sours? There is something for everyone at the top downtown Denver breweries! The ideal way to sort through all of the options and visit only the best of the best is by joining the Denver Microbrew Tour. Locals, explore your hometown brews on a random weekend, or consider booking a tour when hosting friends or family from out of town to show off all that Denver has to offer. You can book your tour in advance or reach out for a custom group event of your choosing. We would love for you to join our next tour.
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Our Brewery Tours
LoDo Craft Beer Tour
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- Fridays: 3:15 PM
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- Sundays: 3:15 PM
- $40 per person
RiNo Beer and Graffiti
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- Sundays: 12:15 PM
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