Beertown? Try ever-expanding beer metropolis. All summer long, the map lit up with new breweries like the following—just in time to greet the hordes descending on Denver for the Great American Beer Festival.
By Ruth Tobias
In honor of the superb local noodle house run by his parents—which doubles as CAUTION’s off-site tap room—brewer Danny Wang and his partner Bettina Fey make their flagship Lao Wang Lager with a secret blend of Asian spices that complements the city’s best xiao long bao and potstickers. (Luck willing, their distinctive yet equally food-friendly wild rice ale should debut soon.)
“No one’s happy to see you when they’ve just wrecked their car,” explains Branden Miller of his and brother Chad’s decision to get out of the family collision repair business and into brewing with Chad’s wife, Carissa Miller. Black Shirt makes red ale and red ale only, using six different malts and four hop varieties for “a vibrant beer that really expresses Colorado terroir.”
Denver Beer’s Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford are devoting every ounce of their brewing energies to envelope-pushing small batches: “If we have a hot month and want to make three or four pilsners and pale ales, so be it,” says Berger. Housed in a former auto body shop complete with floor jacks that hold up the bar (flanked by a German-style biergarten), Denver Beer offers brews containing everything from rose petals to bee pollen, plus seasonal favorites like pumpkin ale and maple nut brown.
Expounding on their slogan, “Offensively Delicious,” Brian and Khara O’Connell compare Renegade’s beers to Richard Pryor’s comedy: “They’re exciting; they’re strong; whatever style they are, we push them to the higher end—5.5% [ABV] is the lowest we’re gonna go.” The flagship, Brian laughs, will be “whatever sells”—but Ryeteous, a rye IPA with 100-plus IBUs, is the one “I just keep coming back to.”
“I feel like one of those little dogs that faces down a German shepherd because he doesn’t really know how small he is,” jokes nanobrewer Scott Witsoe, who nonetheless has big plans for his one-barrel system. Since he favors beers that pair well with food (like his rye porter), he hopes to collaborate with local chefs: “I don’t care much for style guidelines, but I love getting inspiration from dishes.”
Dedicating one of eight taps to the winner of their biannual homebrew competition (congrats to inaugural champ Saison Savoureux), Carolina transplants Jeremy Gobien and Kristen Kozik aim to foster a sense of community above all. Catch them pouring sessionable staples like Bavarian Helles and Copper Mezzina Ale to a fledgling crowd of regulars who live near the couch-lined tasting room.