While not the official fist day of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), yesterday was my first day in Denver since the 2012 GABF. As the plane descended, I could see the mountains to the west and the excitement of the week came to a peak. My calendar is full and I will have plenty to report back.
On my first day in Denver, I spent time with my daughter and her fiance on an impromptu brewery taproom crawl. In all, we visited five taprooms, each with a very different vibe and delicious brews.
Our first stop was Jagged Mountain Brewery. The corner spot this brewery occupies is just blocks from the main core of busy downtown Denver and features plenty of windows for imbibers to watch as people and traffic filter by outside. Inside the taproom is a rustic mixture of wood and brick. The staff is a cheerful lot with plenty of suggestions for new guests and directions to other breweries nearby when needed.
At Jagged Mountain I tried their Thunder Thighs Quad. At 12.8% ABV, this was the perfect beer to begin our long day of exploring the downtown Denver beer scene. The brew sports aromas of caramel and plums upfront and a slight peppery note hidden in the background. The first sip reveals sweet bready malt flavors with a balanced light hop bitterness.
After a short walk just a few blocks up the street, we wandered into the very lively taproom of Great Divide. Anyone who has a Great Divide brew knows that the brewery makes some truly awesome beers. The taproom itself is in a corner building with windows set high on the wall. As the bright Colorado sunlight streamed in we started a conversation with guests from Philadelphia also in town for GABF.
Here I sipped the brewery’s Hoss a crisp rye lager loosely based on the German marzen style. The brewery’s website describe Hoss: “Rich, layered malt notes, with hints of cherry and dark fruits, dominate, while the unique addition of rye imparts a slightly earthy, spicy character.”
Our next brewery required a rather lengthy walk and a short bus ride, but when we found ourselves in front of the Denver Beer Company, I realized the walk was worth it. Situated on the opposite side of the Platt river from downtown, the taproom is features a large indoor area open to the outdoors and a large outdoor veranda.
On the tap list we discovered several seasonal brews and to my delight a blackberry sour ale labeled Brewhaha! The beer was delightfully bright in the glass and full of berry aromas. The flavor was bury BlackBerry with a slight sour note at the end.
Another short walk and we found ourselves at Prost Brewing. On a previous visit to Denver I found this German brewery and fell in love with it. The owners spared no expense to import a genuine copper brewhouse from Germany and have worked diligently to remain true to its Bavarian roots. The taproom is festooned with Oktoberfest banners and picnic tables.
The beer list at Prost is dominated by authentic German lagers. I had both the marzen and kolsch. Both brews tasted just as they should and I found myself not wanting to leave.
Our final brewery was a surprise brewery that my future son-in-law realized we were near as we arrived at an event. De Steeg is literally a hidden gem located in a back ally. One would not know it was there if someone else did not tell you about it. But, this no frills taproom features a full slate of extreme brews with only a Berliner Weiss sporting and ABV below 7.8%. Every brew I tasted at this brewery was phenomenal. Of particular note was its Peach Tripel.