Denver and suburbs, not including Boulder, Ft Collins, or Colorado Springs but including Golden. Probably break this up into rough geographic areas.
- 1 Denver
- 2 Aurora
- 3 West Suburbs
- 4 South Suburbs
- 4.1 Breweries
- 4.2 Bars
- 4.3 Stores
- 5 North Suburbs
The Denver branch of Boulder's Mountain Sun Brewery. The menu and taplist is identical to both Boulder locations, except that you are not required to brave 36 to get at it. Vine Street actually produces more beer than either Boulder location, but the funky, friendly atmosphere remains firmly intact. The taplist is fairly large, running between ten and twenty taps based on whatever projects the brewers are currently pursuing. Most of the standard beers are decent and tend towards lighter, hoppier beers. However, as annual Stout Month reminds everyone, Mountain Sun knows how to brew dark beers as well. I would not call Vine Street/Mountain Sun the most creative or innovative brewery, but they do deliver drinkable and interesting product that always delights. The food is also quite solid and has a healthy feel while still remaining tasty. Heartily recommend stopping by here, especially if you are confined to near downtown Denver. It has much more of a neighborhood feel than the breweries downtown and has better beer than half of them as well.
Located along the South Platte River in LoHi, Denver Beer Co is the perfect session brewery. Denver Beer Co brews a wide variety of beers, most of which are one-offs, that complement its auto-garage-turned-brewery vibe. During the summer, the bay doors roll up and open onto a beer garden that is slammed most nights of the week, along with regularly having a food truck on hand to satisfy one's appetite. Beers include a Keffir lime wheat for the summer or a graham cracker porter that manages to work year-round, both of which are enjoyable and easy to drink for a long, long evening. DBC has stepped up their game over time with regards to innovation and the taplist is always enticing. The ambiance and energy are the key to the place, though, as it's hard to not have a good time. It feels like a neighborhood bar--and that's what it is--but it also produces unique, interesting, and thoroughly enjoyable beer.
Metal-themed brewery on South Broadway. It's in a fun neighborhood, plenty of places to eat, Hi-Dive is nearby and they get good indie bands. Has a great atmosphere and the beer is overall quite good.
Liquor store in a house. Good local selection, decent cellar of aged beers. Knowledgeable staff.
Great bottle shop in the Ballpark District. Probably most reliable spot to get really good bottles downtown. Not a massive selection, but the quality is high. Friendly staff.
Biggest liquor store near Downtown. Largest selection, but gets a lot of traffic so higher quality stuff gets nabbed fairly quickly.
Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Arvada, Golden
For many years, Golden City Brewery was the only game in town aside from Coors and AC Golden Brewing. Kind of hard to imagine that in Colorado, a town as large as Golden didn't have a huge craftbrew scene, but that's basically how it was for many years. GCB delivered in the slightly hillbilly attitude that pervades Golden: a tiny house converted into a brewery with the yard as a beergarden. GCB was and is regularly packed out in the summer with locals and Colorado School of Mines students, who are engineers, so no fear of bro-brahs here. The beer is good but not great, the kind of forgettable craft beer that lurks behind Colorado's reputation as the Napa Valley of Beer. That said, the beer is perfectly drinkable. Pretty much any pitcher will go down easy and without any major faults in the brew, it just won't be something you'll see rave reviews about on BA or RB. What is memorable is enjoying an evening in the yard, sharing a picnic table with strangers, and watching the sun set behind the mountains. Lots of local live music with folk-ish stuff seeming to be the most popular. Worth a visit if you're in the Golden area and have an hour or two or an evening to kill; not worth a stop as part of a larger CO tour.
The first entrant into Golden's beer scene that isn't Coors, AC Golden or Golden City and the first contender in Golden to actually offer a taproom alternative to GCB's yard. Cannonball Creek Brewing was founded by two of the brewers from Mountain Sun in Boulder with a vision to produce more "trendy" craft brews. CCBC does a pretty good job realizing that vision. The taproom isn't amazing as a space, but it has lots of tables and space and a nice big bar with friendly servers. The beer is moderately priced and tastes great. Having captured two medals at GABF 2013, it is surprising that many continue to overlook them. Cannonball Creek is by far one of the best breweries on the Front Range. Their Featherweight Dry-Hopped APA in particular is amazing.
Englewood, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Centennial, Parker, Castle Rock
A modest little brewpub in Castle Rock. The beer is very mediocre and pretty forgettable. Everything clocks in at 5-6% ABV and is yellow-ish: pale ales, an IPA, a lager, a light lager, you get the idea. Apparently they won a gold at GABF in 2003 for their Double Eagle American-style filtered wheat ale and it is indeed pretty drinkable, but it is really just a good beer with dinner.
Oh yeah, we're talking about beer from a brewery, which the Rock Yard apprently forgot about because their food is very good. The menu is massive and overwhelming and I have yet to have a bad meal there, but the focus was firmly on the tasty food instead of the beer. It's got every pub dish ever and it's all quite reasonable in terms of price. The mango pork wings are fan-freakin-tastic and the meatloaf is also surprisingly solid. As I said, I have yet to go wrong with their food. So if you're in CR and want good food that isn't Crave's stupidly good burgers or pizza from Parry's, I guess you can stop here.
These guys are virtually unknown to anyone who lives in the south suburbs, because south suburbanites are horrible. It's in an office park right off University and C470. Their beer is great, plain and simple. The Irish Red, IIPA, Pale Ale, and Oatmeal Stout are the best; their seasonal is also usually spot-on; the others are still good just not outstanding. Distribution in the Denver area is small as their operation doesn't sustain huge output, but they're worth a try if you can find them. Taproom is super friendly and fun with live music on the weekends and they park a food truck out front on Saturday nights. They allow carry in or order in as well. I personally like to grab some awesome hot wings from Wingin' It across C470 and let them spicy things fight it out with the IIPA, which is their best beer, in my opinion.
$5/pint, definitely absolutely worth a stop.
Smaller brewery that consistently makes a few good beers and then has several taps that can be all over the place. The hefeweizen is fantastic and they have a solid Berliner weisse. Everything else is generally a gamble, although only a few beers have been horribly offensive.
A random place that makes pizza and beer next door to C. B. Potts. It does not deliver on either account. It was clearly designed to appeal to suburban families, except it does not really do that well either thanks to the weird, dim lighting. The pizza is not bad, but it would be a stretch to even call it mediocre. The beer is bad. It is pretty flat and the flavor profile is worse than what you get from a baby's first homebrew kit. Oh yes, and because it is in Highlands Ranch everything is overpriced. Avoid.
This place is complete and utter garbage, I put it on this wiki so I could tell people not to come here. The beer is abysmal. It is flat and flavorless, always inconsistent, and if you pay more than $1 for it on whatever nights they're running their, "we have awful food and beer so we're practically giving it away," special, you've been gipped. Oh yes, the food is also bad. Just a bad, bad, bad place.
National chain; in CO they go by CB Potts, elsewhere they are the RAM. Bland, boring beer and slightly overpriced food. The Highlands Ranch location is insanely busy during dinner on weekends as the most vanilla suburban families need to go out and do something "interesting." Avoid.
New York-style pizza in Colorado. How novel! Oh but wait, their pizza is actually pretty good and their taplist is fantastic, for the south 'burbs at least. Highlands Ranch has 50 taps, Castle Rock has 40 and since I live near Castle Rock, here's their Taplister entry. Recent goods were Avery's The Maharaja, Bristol Winter Warlock, DFH My Antonia, Boulevard Tank 7, Firestone Walker DoubleJack, Goose Island Matilda, Bruery's Mischief, North Coast Old Stock, Stone IPA, and Widmer Bros Reserve Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout. Mostly reasonable pricing, although for some of the higher ABV or rarer beers they sometimes charge $6-7. They also have 5 taps that are $3 for a pint all month long, and it's not (exclusively) cheap crap. $3 Dale's or FSW Pivo Pils in March? Yes, please! Also lunch special is $5 for two slices and a fountain drink, which is a good deal. If you're in the south suburbs and want some beer and pizza (they also have a standard pub menu, not as good as the pizza) then stop by Parry's.
Just another entry in a national chain. Huge taplist full of everything you've already tried and it's all overpriced. I guess it's not a bad place to grab a bite to eat and a decent if uninspiring beer after slogging around the Park Meadows area mega shoppingmallcentermart. Food is decent, everything is just overpriced and too familiar.
A big booze store in Castle Rock. Decent selection of six-packs, individual 12oz bottles, and bombers but rarely anything particularly unusual or exciting. Beer tends to be mildly overpriced, but not too badly compared to the wine which definitely suffers from heavy markup. The liquor selection is actually not terrible and right on the dot in terms of pricing. If you need beer and you're in Castle Rock for some reason, you can either stop here and find something that will satisfy, or you can stop at a gas station or another tiny liquor store and buy Michelob.
[Davidson's Liqors, Highlands Ranch]
Best selection in the south suburbs. Somewhat inconvenient to get to, but better selection than Lucas Liquors, especially for bombers.
Broomfield, Westminster, Thornton