It’s no secret: Colorado loves its craft beer. Whether it’s cracking open a can at the top of a Colorado 14er or bellying up to a beetle-kill pine bar in a brewery, there’s no shortage of amazing beer to sip and sample while in the Centennial State. There are more than 70 breweries in the Denver area (the number is hard to pin down due to openings and closings, breweries with multiple locations, etc.); that number also doesn’t account for some of the state’s largest breweries that are located in Golden, Fort Collins, and Boulder.
As a result, it can be difficult to narrow down the options: There are many different styles to sample and vibes in which to bask. However, we’ve rounded up 9 of the best breweries in Denver, due to their ingenuity, personality, and (of course) tasty beer.
Denver Beer Co. opened its doors on Platte Street in 2011 and while it was one of the first breweries in the downtown area, founders Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford knew it wouldn’t be the last. DBC’s location includes the perfect blend of indoor and outdoor space (you’ll be hard-pressed to find patio space on a sunny day) and while the founders started with the idea to “never make the same beer twice,” the creation of the Graham Cracker Porter made the pair realize that perhaps that mantra was premature. Now with a second brewery in Arvada (and “Canworks” coming to the Sunnyside neighborhood) DBC proves that they’ve found the sweet spot between creativity and solid craft beer.
Founded in 1994 by Brian Dunn, Great Divide is one of the grand dames of Denver’s brewing scene. A homebrewer, Dunn started off small and grew the business to what it is today: the creator of iconic brews like Yeti Imperial Stout, Titan IPA and Samurai Rice Ale. In 2013, Great Divide opened its Barrel Bar in the up-and-coming RiNo District. This new space is still expanding, allowing guests to sample seasonal, barrel-aged and limited release offerings.
In a quirky space on Colfax in the Park Hill neighborhood, Fiction Brewing Company proves that bibliophiles and “beerophiles” are a match made in heaven. Perch at the bar made of books and order a literary-inspired brew, like one of the Series of Fortunate Stouts, or head out to the spacious patio. Along with their catalog of flagship beers, owners Ryan and Christa Kilpatrick, along with Head Brewer Brittany Portman, aren’t afraid to jump on the trendy beer train, producing both Brut IPAs and glitter beers. However, unlike other some unfortunate fads, these results are stellar.
When you’re in the mood for something a bit different, head to Intrepid Sojourner. Don’t be dissuaded by the location on busy 8th Avenue — it’s worth venturing in to sample the truly creative beers on tap, like the Italian Basil IPA (truly refreshing!) or the Finnish sahti, made with juniper rather than hops. With ingredients sourced from around the globe as well as Colorado, co-owner and brewer Andrew Moore takes inspiration from his travels; the taste will take you around the world.
For the best German beer you’ll find outside of Munich, head to Bierstadt Lagerhaus in RiNo. The vibe is new industrial but the beer is classic, adhering to the Reinheitsgebot process using just water, malt, yeast and hops. For example, take the Slow Pour Pils. A northern German-inspired pilsner, this beer is not only served in a specific glass (Bierstadt requires anyone who pours this pils to use this particular glass), but takes its sweet time developing that perfect head. It’s worth the wait.
If you were forced to pinpoint the start of the sour revolution in Denver, you’d probably point to the advent of Crooked Stave in late 2010. What started as an “artisan beer project” from brewmaster and “Brettanomyces Guru” Chad Yakobson, Crooked Stave’s approach to blending is part art and part science, utilizing Brettanomyces yeasts. The resulting creations, most of which are matured in oak barrels, are incredibly thought-provoking and complex. Like tasting wine, it’s best to sample a few at the Tap Room at The Source in RiNo to find your favorite.
Station 26 Brewing Company
Located in an old fire station in the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver, Station 26 Brewing put itself on Denver beer-lovers’ list in Dec. 2013 with its flagship IPA, Juicy Banger. A super-tasty concoction with notes of apricot, papaya and honey, Juicy Banger has been the demise of many an “it doesn’t taste like 7.4 ABV” drinkers since its inception. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this brewery is a one-trick pony. Other offerings like the Tangerine Cream and Brut IPA are equally quaffable. With a spacious bar and lots of table seating (patio in the summer, covered tent in the colder months), Station 26 is a favorite weekend haunt for beer lovers with dogs and kids as well as those with neither.
Tucked into a strip mall on Broadway, Baere Brewing has been producing stellar beers since 2014. Leading with their Baere-liner Weiss, which can be customized the traditional way with house-made syrups, Baere experiments with different styles, offering up options for almost anyone. From a Brett-fermented Black IPA to a classic Pale Ale, you’ll find something new to try — and enjoy.
Walking into Woods Boss Brewing in Five Points makes you want to don a flannel shirt and perhaps take up whittling. A spacious and cozy taproom with large amounts of (you guessed it) wood, Woods Boss serves up solid beer in a welcoming space. The selection is extensive, ranging from lagers and IPAs to Belgian, German and Farmhouse styles. Try the Fruity Flash, a kettled sour, before moving on to lighter fare, like perhaps the Riparian Conservation, a Brut Pale Ale. But be forewarned: check the ABVs. Some of Woods Boss’s beers pack a big punch but drink much lighter.