From what I’ve been reading on these here internets, the yuppity VIP DNC parties aren’t all that — there’s a lot of waiting in lines, crappy liquor, swag that isn’t quite phenomenal, and snobby attitudes. Well, visitors to our fair city, fear not. I am here to tell you about the best thing to do in Denver.
Here you go: BEER.
If I were visiting Denver, I’d want to hit up as many breweries as possible. The atmosphere at a brewery is almost always pleasant, and of course it’s much more laid back than anything involving velvet ropes. Also, the beer is awesome — hell, I’d go so far as to say that some of the best beer in the universe is brewed right here in Colorado. And no, I’m not including Coors. For the record, I’m not a fan of Fat Tire, either; if your idea of Colorado beer is Fat Tire, you’re in for a pleasant surprise when you try some of the more obscure offerings.
Any Colorado beer tour should begin or end (or begin and end) at a place that isn’t a brewery at all, Falling Rock Tap House (1919 Blake Street). You know those stupid commercials about beer heaven? Well, they lie. This place is beer heaven. The atmosphere isn’t all that, but the outside seating is great (and because the Rockies aren’t in town this week, it shouldn’t be tooooo crowded over there). Check out their very out-of-date beer list here. My top picks from that list include Avery IPA, Anderson Valley Hop Ottin IPA, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale, and Left Hand Black Jack Porter. If I recall correctly, the last few times I’ve been there they had Green Flash Imperial IPA, which is what you need to be drinking right now if you like pure hoppy deliciousness. They have good fries and ranch dressing.
I also recommend a trip to the Blake Street Tavern (2401 Blake Street). This is our usual post-Rockies game hangout, and has what I’d call above-average sports bar atmosphere. This used to be connected to the Flying Dog Brewery, but the brewery moved operations to Maryland. However, you can still get Flying Dog beer on tap. I recommend the Snake Dog IPA, which is bitter, like your crazy ex (no really, that’s what it says on the bottle) and hoppy. In my opinion, this is probably the best place to eat while you’re drinking; they have a good selection of vegetarian items.
If you’re just here for a short visit, you might not have time to make it to Lyons to hit up Oskar Blues, makers of Gordon, the best beer in the universe (and good pizza). Fortunately, you can get a four-pack of Gordon (in cans) right here in town. Blake Street Wine & Spirits (2409 Blake Street) carries it and they’re super nice. You could spend a nice evening drinking cans of Gordon at City Park, where they’re having a few Convention watch parties. If you do this, do not, under any circumstances, use the indoor prison restrooms at City Park (if they’re even open).
Wynkoop Brewing Company is in an awesome old building and definitely worth a trip. Recommended: Monkey’s Fist IPA (yeah, I know — I’m all IPA all the time) and Patty’s Chile Beer (a light beer with Anaheim chiles and smoked ancho peppers — very awesome and very Colorado). They have decent food, but service can be slow if it’s really crowded.
Great Divide Brewing Co. is great but their tap room is only open from 3-8 p.m. weekdays and 2-7 Saturdays. Their Titan IPA is one of my all-time favorites.
Breckenridge Brewery (2220 Blake Street) is worth checking out, although they don’t brew at this location. To drink: 471 Small Batch IPA or 471 ESB. Food here is okay.
If you make it up to the People’s Republic of Boulder, there are a few places worth checking out.
Avery Brewing (5763 Arapahoe Avenue) has a good IPA (shocking!). The Maharaja (limited availability — should still be around) is an awesome imperial IPA.
Boulder Beer (2880 Wilderness Place). I’ve never been here, but their Mojo IPA is excellent (and much better than Hazed and Infused, trust).
BJ’s is a chain, but the Boulder location (1125 Pearl Street) is cool. This is one of the first places we hung out when we came out to Colorado for the first time to see if we liked it (thrilling, I know; obv. the beer got to us because here we are). Recommended: Piranha Pale Ale.
If you want more suggestions, let me know. There’s a ton of good stuff farther out from the city that I haven’t listed. Also, you can check out my MVB Index for ratings and very brief discussion of a few of my favorite brews. I’ll update that one of these days.