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In addition to a wealth of outdoor activities and a lively music and art scene, travelers are being drawn to Denver for another reason: craft beer. Often referred to as the “Napa Valley of craft beer,” Denver is at the forefront of the micro-brewing movement. Breweries have come a long way since the Coors Brewery opened in neighboring Golden in 1873, and now more than 35 breweries can be found on Denver’s “Beer Trail” with even more scattered around the city.
Denver’s locally produced beers constantly win awards at the “World Beer Cup Awards,” (also known as the Olympics of beer), and during the annual Great American Beer Festival, more beers can be found on tap than anywhere else in the world.
For a traveler looking to experience Denver’s microbreweries, a brewery tour is a great starting point to get a sense of what Denver has to offer. Many tours are based around two neighborhoods, LoDo (lower downtown Denver) and RiNo (the River North district) and provide a history of beer, the brewing process and samples. Here are five brewery tours in Denver.
Best Overall: RiNo Craft Brewery Crawl Tour
If you’re into trendy neighborhoods and street art, the RiNo Craft Brewery Crawl Tour, explores the hip River North district, an artistic area full of historic warehouses and factories that are now home to art studios, galleries, restaurants and brewpubs. Travelers will zip around the neighborhood in a fun E-tuk (modern rickshaws) zero-emission vehicle and take a look at some of the street art and local vibe. The E-tuk company is also based right in the RiNo neighborhood. The tour makes 45-minute stops at RiNo brewery and cider houses with a full draft beer at each stop included in the price such as Beryl’s Beer Co., Bierstadt, Black-Shirt Brewing, C Squared, and Epic Brewing – to name a few.
Best in Lower Downtown: Historical Lower Downtown Denver Beer Tour
Find out how Denver transformed into a craft beer mecca, and learn all about the brewing process and different types of microbrews with the Historical Lower Downtown Denver Beer Tour. The walking tour stops at four local breweries for a chance to try more than 10 types of Colorado craft beer. The stops include: Rock Bottom Brewery (known for its strong pale ales), Jagged Mountain Brewery, a sprawling space in an industrial building that hosts several food trucks, Falling Rock Tap House, which has more than 75 beers on tap, and Wynkoop Brewery, located in a vintage warehouse and known as Denver’s first brewpub. The tour guide is a true beer aficionado who weaves beer trivia and entertaining narrative about the city into the tour.
Best Private Group Tour: Mile High Brewery Tours
Whether gathering friends together for a weekend getaway, planning activities for a wedding party or visiting with family, a private brewery tour is a fun-filled way to spend the evening. The four-hour tour is offered every Friday for up to six adults (note the prices are per group) and includes round-trip transportation from hotels to three different breweries. These may include: Brew on Broadway, Locavore, Saint Patrick's Brewery, Breckenridge Brewery, Dead Hippie Brewing and many more. An informative driver provides background on the brewing scene at each stop, and groups will spend 45 minutes to one hour sampling beers and snacks. One pint per stop is included in the price.
Best Brewery and Distillery Tour: Brews and Booze Walking Tour
For a more in-depth look at how whiskey and beer are made, sign up for the Brews and Booze Walking Tour, a three-hour experience in downtown Denver. During the tour, travelers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the distillation process at Mile High Spirits, and learn about ingredients and methods used to produce Colorado whiskey, vodka, gin and tequila. It also explores breweries like the Great Divide to see the fermentation process, and tastings of ales, lagers, stouts and spirits are included. The knowledgeable guide can also point out some of the best hot spots in downtown for a night out after the tour is over.
Best Food and Beverage Tour: Grapes, Hops, and Good Spirits Tour
For a well-rounded food and beverage experience that includes a taste of everything: spirits, wine, beer and dinner, join the Grapes, Hops and Good Spirits Tour. The four-hour experience includes a stop at a brewery, winery and a distillery for more than 10 samples of various beverages. Don’t worry: The tour includes round-trip transportation from your guide (and driver) in a luxury vehicle. Sample whites and red wines, wheat ale, honey lager, dark beer or cider as well as locally produced rum, gin vodka or bourbon. You can snack on cheese, fruit and crackers and enjoy a full dinner at the winery. There’s also a chance to tour the barrel room or distillery. The tour has a minimum of four people.