The Ultimate Guide to Drinking Beer in Denver
With more than 70 breweries to explore, and the home of the most iconic craft beer festival in the country, Denver is a city that should be on any beer lovers beercation bucket list.
The city of Denver has come a long way from its former cow town days. Sure, you can still catch a herd of Longhorn cattle roaming the streets of Colorado’s capital city each year as part of a kick-off to the National Western Stock Show, but these days, you’re more likely to cross paths with fast-moving hipsters on fixie bikes, or a gaggle of business casual-clad young professionals en route to one of the city’s many celebrated restaurants and tap rooms. At its core, Denver has earned a reputation as a vibrant, down-to-earth city with a killer outdoor scene and one heck of a boozy backbone. It’s that boozy backbone that lured the Great American Beer Festival to the city back in the early 80s. Even the elected official currently residing in the Governor’s mansion has a deep-rooted history in the local brewing industry, which has exploded in recent decades. In 2006, Colorado had 108 operating breweries. Today, the city of Denver alone is home 70 breweries. With so many exceptional, award-winning and innovative breweries in town, it’s time to cash in your vacation days and start planning your beercation in the city Denver.
First things first: let’s just go ahead and lay it all out on the table. With more than 70 breweries to explore, it would be nearly impossible for every single visiting beer drinker to be equally excited about every single suggestion in this piece. And to that end, it’d also be an extremely long read to run through the pros and cons of every single brewery in town in this one story. So while the breweries and businesses listed in this piece are some of the most buzzed about craft beer joints in town, we encourage everyone to explore Denver as they see fit, and share any tips and places we missed in the comments section.
With so many breweries to explore, it’s best to tackle Denver’s beer scene by neighborhoods. Denver is a city made up of colorful, artsy and welcoming neighborhoods — each one home to a handful of local watering holes.
If you’re limited on time, head straight to the River North Art District (RiNo). Over the past decade, the art-driven neighborhood has become the home of some of the city’s most popular breweries, like Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, a leader and perfecter of sour styles. The brewery operates a tap room inside of The Source — a hotel and market hall that houses a collection of 25 independent food and retail vendors. Other notable stops in the RiNo neighborhood include Ratio BeerWorks — an energetic, buzzing brewery driven by punk rock music and one of the best patios in town; Bierstadt Lagerhaus — makers of deliciously clean and crisp German-style beers, Woods Boss Brewing Company — an innovative and community-focused joint creating some of the most buzzed about beers in Denver at the moment, and Black Shirt Brewing Co. — a small brewery influenced by the life of Johnny Cash that you might recognize from the craft beer-inspired documentary Crafting a Nation. The neighborhood has even attracted some of the region’s larger breweries to open up additional breweries/tap rooms, like Odell, Epic and Great Divide.
If you’re looking to stay confined to the city’s easily walkable LoDo (Lower Downtown) area, head over to Denver Beer Company’s bustling tap room and outdoor beer garden. Along with a lengthly beer list that runs the gamut, the longtime Denver brewery also recently opened the doors to Cerveceria Colorado — a new, inviting brewery crafting together the flavors and culture of Mexico in beers like a Churro Stout and Mexican Lager. Diehard fans of Dale’s Pale Ale, Oskar Blues Brewery’s hopped-up flagship beer, can now grab a pint, a plate of Southern-style cuisine and live music, at the newly opened Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Denver’s historic downtown.
For locals, the Broadway neighborhood is quickly becoming the site of some of the most recommended breweries in town. In recent years, TRVE Brewing has emerged as one of the top must-visit breweries in the city, thanks to a line-up of consistently well-made creative beers and an affinity for heavy metal music. The area is also home to Baere Brewing Company and Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales, two of the city’s top breweries pushing the limits of barrel aging and fermentation experimentation.
To explore Denver’s other sudsy neighborhoods like East Colfax (where you’ll find Cerebral Brewing and Thirsty Monk), and the Highlands (home to Prost Brewing, Briar Common Brewery + Eatery and Diebolt Brewing Company), you’ll need to hop in a Lyft, Uber or cab, all three of which are easy to find in the city.
Bottom line: even if you get lost, you’ll most likely still be within a stone’s throw of a brewery making really excellent beer.
Denver’s dining scene is having a moment, there’s no doubt about it. With such a demand for craft beer at the dinner table and with a city full of knowledgeable beer drinkers, you better believe that most eateries in town are incorporating craft beer into both their drinks and dining menus.
A short walk from the Colorado Convention Center where the Great American Beer Festival is held each fall, you’ll find Euclid Hall — one of Denver’s most respected craft beer-focused dining establishments. Here, beer lovers can nerd out on beer with Euclid Hall’s Cicerone Certified staff in between bites of seasonally-inspired dishes and sips of one of the many, many offerings from the beer menu. At Frescraft, beer and food live in harmony. The food menu is an array of shared plates and hearty entrees, each one accompanied by suggestions from the staff on the best beer pairings. Although burly burgers and buffalo wings reign supreme on the food menu at The Falling Rock Taphouse. the institution is worthy of a visit for any beer lover in town. More than 75 beers pour from the seemingly endless row of drafts, and another 100-plus bottled or canned beers can be found in the cooler. Falling Rock takes its craft beer menu very seriously, as evidenced by the year-round countdown to the Great American Beer Festival always ticking away in the bar.
Bikes, trains, tricked-out busses, ride shares and your own two feet will get you just about anywhere you need to go in this city. Flying into to Denver? Catch the A-Line train from Denver International Airport to downtown Denver for just $9 one-way. Exploring neighborhoods? The bike-friendly city is host to ample BCycle bike share stations where you can rent a bike for as little or long as you need. Looking for a unique and safe way to really tour Denver’s brewery scene? Book a brewery tour on one of Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour. The funky, converted 1994 school bus offers public brewery tours or private tours, and is one heck of a fun way to tour the city and its colorful, delicious and innovate craft beer scene.