BEER TREK 2012: New Adventures in the Beer-o-Sphere

The continuing saga of Michael 'fezz' Nazarec at large in the world of beer, hunting down new and varied species of the fermented ambrosia in its natural habitat: breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, restaurants, train stations, airports and beer festivals.
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Current Posts: fezz's picks: the Top 12 of 2012; Back to Brussels, London Calling; Get Lost in Maastricht; Amsterdam and Beyond; In Bruges and Ghent; Mussels in Brussels; Brussels Beer Weekend #14; Further Adventures in the Beer-o-Sphere; Calgary's Best & Wurst; A Wee Peak at Vancouver Craft Beer Week 2012; A night out in Denver; Drinking Beer in L.A.

Night Out in Denver

Denver, Colorado is a well known mecca in the beer universe, home to many great breweries, brewpubs and beer bars. As luck would have it, work brought me to Denver this Spring. My friend  Raj and I had a chance to sample a few local brews on offer at a number of places, all within walking distance of our downtown hotel. There is a free public bus that will take you the length of 16th Street, but there is much to see on the Mall itself for the adventurous who like to walk.

Our first stop is the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe is a great wood-lined pub/restaurant a few blocks from the 16th Street Mall.  They serve a large selection of 'old world' Belgian beers on tap, as well as well known US craft beers. I enjoyed a taster tray of American heavy hitters: Dog Fish Head Tweason Ale 6%, Avery Collaboration Not Litigation Ale 8.7%, Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 12%, and Funkwerks Caspercot (apricot Saison). Raj enjoyed a quadruple sampling of some of the classic Belgian ales available: Affligem Blond 6.8%, LaTrappe Dubbel 7%, Chimay White 8% and LaTrappe Quadruple 10%.

The frites were excellent, especially Belgian served with a couple of different dipping sauces, as well as mayo. Our server was friendly and very knowledgeable, making great recommendations and telling us about other geat beer bars in the downtown area.
I also immensely enjoyed a big chalice of Russian River Sanctification (a Bretted golden ale), quite an exceptional brew, dry and funky, aromatic, hints of sweetness, ambrosia in a glass.

Next we shuttled back towards our hotel and headed to the Great Divide Brewery. It has a busy taproom pouring 16 different beers made on premises. And the premises are big, for beer making that is. It was standing room only as we arrived, happy hour just winding down, but we did manage to find a couple of stools overlooking the brewery itself. Raj tells me they used to serve great steaks at one time, but the brewery has expanded to swallow up that space. Instead, patrons are encourage to buy pizza from the mobile pizza van parked out on the street. There is also a small patio on the street.
 Raj ordered us up a Yeti Imperial Espresso Stout that was to die for. Delicious chocolatey/coffee aroma, it bursts upon your taste buds suggesting a mocha ice cream float in a giant shot of strong espresso! Amazingly full bodied, well balanced with roasted malt notes, chocolate cake finish. We also enjoyed their famous Denver Pale Ale and a nice and hoppy Titan IPA. Will have to come back for more. Passing on pizza, we decided to find something more substantial.

So, we ended the night at Freshcraft, a lovely casual little beer bar/resto on Blake Street, a block off the main 16th Street strip. I went for the fish tacos, well Raj supped on a fine stew, the food was very good in this narrow, but deep diner.  I ordered an Oskar Blues G’night Imperial Red Ale 8.7%, a big, bossy brew, with malty highlights and a smooth finish. It went well with my late dinner and seemed an appropriate night cap. Raj went for the Left Hand Milk Stout 5.3%, rich and delicious, with a delicate sweetness.

We, of course, barely scratched the surface of the Denver beer scene. I was especially disappointed we lost track of time and didn't make it to the Falling Rock Taphouse, just a few blocks the other way up Blake Street, boasting 75 beers on tap and over 130 different bottles. Next time. It's just so easy to find great places to drink the wonderful beers of Colorado and beyond. Cheers!

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