One of the fastest-growing cities in America, Denver is in the midst of a modern renaissance. Once-rundown neighborhoods have transformed into creative and commercial hubs for the city’s vibrant, young populace, connected by an expanding web of light rail lines and bike- and pedestrian-friendly paths. The city’s beer scene has found a similarly promising trajectory, adding dozens of craft breweries in recent years to bring the tally to around 50—plus plenty more in the surrounding metro area.
River North Brewery
When River North opened its intimate taproom three years ago, it was the only brewery in its namesake industrial neighborhood—which has since exploded with several other newcomers. The RiNo pioneer has doubled production each year as demand grows for its Belgian-influenced, yeast-centric ales. 2401 Blake St. #1, rivernorthbrewery.com
Great Divide Brewing Co.
The decorated stalwart just celebrated its 21st birthday with a new 65,000-square-foot facility—triple the size of its existing original Ballpark location. The space features a canning line, daily tours and sleek Barrel Bar tasting room; phase two, including a new brewery, beer garden and larger tap room, gets underway next year. 1812 35th St., greatdivide.com
Bold graphics, neon signs and punk-rock tunes blaring in the lofty taproom nod to the brewery founders’ days on the music circuit. Flagship brews range from the satisfying, 7.5% Scotch ale Hold Steady to top-selling Dear You, a drier-than-average saison borrowing its name from the title of a Jawbreaker album. 2920 Larimer St., ratiobeerworks.com
Mockery Brewing Co.
This hip, year-old brewery’s name pokes fun at a 16th-century German law forbidding that beer be made with anything but barley, hops and water. Its appropriately imaginative ales include the robust Oaked Southern Hemisphere Black Pale Ale and Peach Blonde Ale, brewed with 200 pounds of Colorado’s own Palisade peaches. 3501 Delgany St., mockerybrewing.com
Denver Beer Co.
Floor-to-ceiling garage doors bring the outdoors in at this former auto shop, and offer a view of patrons basking on the sunny patio. An ever-changing tap list encompasses plenty of one-offs, seasonals and standbys like aromatic Graham Cracker Porter, which nabbed GABF bronze in 2011, the brewery’s inaugural year. 1695 Platte St., denverbeerco.com
Like many a city-dweller before it, Denver’s largest brewery recently moved to a bigger home in the suburbs—much bigger. The new $36 million facility occupies 12 acres along the South Platte River, including a 76,000-square-foot brewery and tasting room and a sprawling farm-inspired restaurant and beer garden. 2920 Brewery Lane, breckbrew.com
Last year’s renovation transformed the once-dilapidated Union Station train depot into a classy downtown destination—and turned the former ticketing office at its heart into this immaculate bar and restaurant. Choose one of 30 Colorado-made drafts, then sip beneath the vaulted ceiling of the marble-walled Great Hall. 1701 Wynkoop St., terminalbardenver.com
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
The dozen taps at this Austin-originated mecca for beer and burgers offer a sampling of Colorado favorites, including Denver-area natives Dry Dock Apricot Blonde and Great Divide Colette Farmhouse Ale. But the stout chocolate milkshake steals the show, owing to the rich Breckenridge Brewery Vanilla Porter. 1747 Wynkoop St., hopdoddy.com
Colorado Plus Brew Pub
A tribute to the state whose flag adorns its logo, this gastropub’s 56 taps pour a rotating lineup of exclusively Colorado pints. House brews like the flagship Bitter Off Dead (a double IPA packing a 152-IBU punch) accompany locally sourced entrees like a rosemary pork chop. 6995 W. 38th Ave., coloradoplus.net
Station 26 Brewing Co.
Borrowing its name from the abandoned firehouse it occupies, this 2013 debut got a hot start: The brewery’s Colorado Cream Ale, made with locally grown barley and hops, snagged bronze at its first GABF outing. The chandelier-lit taproom boasts communal tables and garage doors opening onto a spacious south-facing patio. 7045 E. 38th Ave., station26brewing.com
Lowry Beer Garden
The classic Bavarian biergarten—outdoor picnic tables, twinkling white lights, flowing taps—gets a Rocky Mountain twist at this inviting space adjacent to a redeveloped WWII-era airplane hangar. Sixteen Colorado taps and an 85-bottle list pair with updated German classics (think bison brats), plus all-American burgers and salads. 7577 E. Academy Blvd., lowrybeergarden.com
The BSide (Editor’s note: The BSide has since closed.)
New sister restaurant of beloved downtown watering hole Star Bar, The BSide has two claims to fame: fried chicken and craft beer. The secret to the first: Coconut milk brine, gluten-free flour and a pressure fryer. The second? No secret, just two dozen varied taps and three dozen bottles and cans. 1336 E. 17th Ave., thebsidedenver.com
Hunt These Taps:
Sip what may be the state’s best IPA—the resinous, well-balanced Superpower IPA—at Comrade Brewing Co. Head to RiNo hotspot Black Shirt Brewing Co. for an earthy pour of Red Beet Porter, brewed with Colorado beets, then on to Great Divide for a sweet-tart taste of Strawberry Rhubarb Sour. Micro De Steeg Brewing pours Imperial Pumpkin Ale in its back-alley tap room; a lucky few can sample a super-limited rum-barrel-aged version this fall. Seasonal wee heavy The Game Is Afoot from Park Hill’s Fiction Beer Co. offers smooth, salted caramel notes resulting from an extra-long boil and a dose of sea salt.