5280 Week: Picking a Restaurant by the Beer List

It’s almost half over already. 5280 Restaurant Week (or half-month) is here again. A few hundred of Denver’s best restaurants open their doors, menus, and kitchens, so that we might sample their goods and expand our palates.

At $52.80 for two, or $26.40 for one, you have to go! Pick out a restaurant or two you’ve been meaning to try, and try it!

Ashley Hausman gave her suggestions on choosing a restaurant based on the wine list. We’re here to suggest some based on the beers.



Colt & Gray (1553 Platte St.)

It’s classy, it’s smart, it’s dapper, and it has a hushed undertone that is very unassuming and comfortable.  The cocktails are unreal, the service is youthful and fun, and the beer is killer.

On tap this week is Lost Abbey’s Red Barn–a gorgeous saison brewed with ginger, orange peels, black pepper, and Grains of Paradise. It’s quenching with a light slap of hops towards the end.  Pair this with the salmon pot pie with Seven Greens and apple salad.  The slow cooked beef tongue with beets, horseradish,  Crème Fraîche and Arugula is one of the prettiest presentations I’ve seen in awhile.  Go old school and classic with the Guinness foreign export stout, the very recipe used Ireland.  We love braised short ribs (with crispy Cheese Grits and slow cooked vegetables) and get a pour of the delicious Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti.  Plus, that same Yeti is used in the third course’s dessert with  a side of Stout Ice Cream in the Minced Meat Brioche Bread Pudding.

Be sure to sample the Boulder’s Upslope Whiskey Pale Ale (aged in Stranahan’s barrels), available only at the brewery and Colt & Gray.  It’s going fast and once it’s gone, it’s gone!

Full Menu


d Bar Desserts (1475 E. 17th Ave.)

This week is probably one of the slowest weeks for d Bar.  Read again, this is probably the slowest week for d Bar.  It’s a great chance to come in for a three-course meal, two of which are primarily desserts.

The gnocchi with brown butter sage and parmesan is one pasta dish you’ve never had.  Combine the delicate touch of Keegan Gerhard and you’ve a dangerous combination. Peroni or New Belgium 2 Below does well throughout the gnocchi and the assorted mignardise.  Followed by a trio of chocolate (complete with mini cake and shake) is a colorful pairing with the Breck Brew Vanilla porter.

Full Menu


Denver Chophouse and Brewery (1735 19th St.)

Located in the historic LoDo area of Denver, the Denver ChopHouse offers an old-fashioned sense to your dining experience.  Service is friendly, hushed, and efficient.

Tempura Shrimp Tossed in Buffalo Sauce pairs nicely with the the Pilsner Lager or the Dormunder Lager. Try the Dark Munich Lager with the Beef Medallions Served with Cabernet-Thyme Wild Turkey Whiskey Sauce.  The sauce hits well with the malty characteristics and caramel flavors.  Take a taste of the Dry Stout with the Bourbon Stout Chocolate Mousse Topped with a Grand Marnier Whipped Cream.  Stout overload?  Nah.

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Encore on Colfax (2550 E. Colfax Ave.)

Encore’s bar program is back on the map.  Adam Dunbar, previously from Freshcraft, has been revitalizing its cocktail and beer program.  Friends, trust Dunbar’s palate and his frank opinions of beers.

Pair the housemade venison sausage and carrot, ginger and habanero soup with Uinta Brewing Monkshine.  The varying spice of the ginger and habanero do a tongue-tickle, matched with this Belgian Pale Ale.  The goat’s milk ricotta gnocchi and molasses-mustard glazed pork tenderloin has some fun play with Deschutes Inversion IPA.  Try Great Divide’s Hoss with the apple brown betty with toffee crunch ice cream.

Full Menu


Euclid Hall (1317 14th St.)

Just this week, Sam of Dogfish Head fame stated that Euclid is on its way to becoming one of the best beer bars in America. The question isn’t if you’re going, it’s when. Housemade pickles and mustard, ice cream sandwiches on waffles, poutine and more, it’s hard to go wrong here.

Their selection for Restaurant Week borders on overwhelming, but if we could only go once (we might have to go twice), first course would have to be the Bruléed Bone Marrow, one marrow bone, demi glace, sherry reduction, grilled sourdough, paired with Great Divide’s Hoss Rye Lager. Not feeling up for marrow? Lighter fare sort of person? The pickle sampler is never, ever a bad choice. Chase the vinegar acidity away with Boulevard Tank 7.

Next up, Boudin Noir, avec curry e aubergine. Yes, pronouncing this is difficult. Just point on the menu. This hand-cranked sausage explodes with flavor and juices. You could also go with the Uncensored Hoppwurst, Carr Valley cheddar. Hopps. And Brats. In one. Think about it. Both of these would be good with either a Boulevard The Sixth Quad or a Russian River Damnation Belgian Golden.

Bring in the entrees. Honestly, it’s all good. But there are three options that really show the breadth of the kitchen. Chicken and Waffles, Petaluma chicken paillard, sourdough waffles, pure maple syrup, salty walnuts, washed down with a The Bruery’s Orchard White. Roasted Duck Poutine, hand cut fries, duck gravy, black pepper, Wisconsin cheddar curds, followed with a Avery’s The Reverend Belgian Style Quad. Or (and, or) Steamed PEI Mussels, New Belgium Trippel ale, grilled bread, garlic, shallots, basil, thyme, which pairs amazingly well with Oskar Blues Pilsner.

Did we mention the menu comes with a bomber of beer?  It’ll be hard to just pick one.

Full Menu


Freshcraft (1530 Blake St. Unit A)

After the almost overwhelming options at Euclid, sometimes it’s nice to have few options. Freshcraft has a very simple menu, backed up by a massive beer list. Fresh, local ingredients, non-standard fare, 20 taps, and over 60 bottles, right off the 16th street mall. Each offered course only has two options, so bring a friend/date/parent/appetite, and try it all.

This week, Freshcraft was one of the establishments tapping Pliny the Younger.  Additionally, Freshcraft’s Russian River tap is housing Sanctification.  It goes well with the Pork Rillettes, the Grilled Lamb Chops (especially with the Chimichuri sauce).  The third course gives you a difficult decision between the float of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream in Left Hand Milk Stout or a Cactus Sorbet in Ska Decadent IPA.  Give the Cactus/Decadent combination a whirl.

Full Menu


Highland Tap and Burger (2219 W. 32nd Ave)

If your quest is beer, you can’t go wrong with Highland Tap and Burger.  Your third course is a choice of 4 draft beers.  And what a tasty beer menu they have.  Sample the craft beers from Odells, Avery, Great Divide, Lefthand, Tommyknocker, New Belgium, Bristol, Oskar Blues, Ska Brewing, Boulder Beer Company, and Mendocino.

Avery’s White Rascal is fun with the Grilled Artichoke and Truffle Aioli as it brings out the musky and earth flavors. Enjoy Tommyknocker Brewery’s Hop Strike Black Rye IPA with Stranahan’s Smoked Wings and the Tap House Skins.  Please be sure to get Avery I.P.A. Mac and Cheese and try it with its respective beer, or order one of the Belgium bottles to play with the cheese.

Their sample of burgers will rock your mouth.  The sample includes the “Tap” Burger with Onion Ring, Pulled Pork and House Tap Sauce; Rocky Mountain Lamb Burger; Shroom Luva Burger; Mother Earth Burger (Vegetarian Patty).  Burgers.  Goose Island Matilda.  Do it.

Full Menu


Jax Fish House–Denver (1539 17th St.)

Seafood. In Denver. It happens a lot, and it happens really, really well. Jax is one of the best restaurants in this town. It’s been rated top restaurant in town by 5280 Magazine, and best seafood restaurant by both the Westword and Citysearch.

Jax’s restaurant week menu offers lighter and heavier options. Start off with Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo, or some Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) Mussels with Boulevard’s Tank 7 Saison. The lighter first courses go well with this sessionable, palate-cleanser and start to awaken you spice awareness.  Before you make any choice for your entree, be sure to ask what fresh catches they have. It changes often.  Doing the southern thing with the gumbo? Move on to the Mississippi Catfish (blackened or fried) with Blackened peas, house tasso, Brussels sprouts, pickled peppers. A little bit lighter, but no less delicious, they offer a Pan Seared Tilapia with whipped parsnips, grilled rapini, banyuls.  Split either dish with the Avery Salvation Belgium Style Golden Ale or Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Imperial IPA.

Pair the Fleur de sel Caramel Brownie and Mascarpone ice cream with Avery’s The Beast Grand Cru Ale.  You’ll get swept up.

Full Menu


The Lobby – An Inspired American Grille (2191 Arapahoe St.)

Close to one of my favorite breweries (Great Divide), The Lobby serves fun, delicious, and wholesome meals in the ballpark neighborhood.  This year’s Denver Restaurant Week brings a great exploration of the flavors they offer, combined with their beer list.

Work one of La Trappe’s Trappist Ales (they have Dubbel and Tripel) for the main courses.  Pair the Dubbel with the Panko Friend Soft Shell Crab (feta tomato stack and herb polenta) and get the Tripel with the Braised Port Osso Bucco (with Cajun red beans and garlic brussels sprouts).  The Honey Broiled Steelhead Trout with herb quinoa and lemon sage sauce is deliciously fresh Steamworks Colorado Kolsch.

Full Menu


Rackhouse Pub (208 S. Kalamath St.)

Kendra, Chris, Jayson, and Clarke have done a great job raising Rackhouse Pub.  The tap line-up is ever-changing with delicious and fun samplings.  To boot, their food is tasty.  This is a great Denver Restaurant Week menu, in a great establishment, with great people, and chill decor.

Work Dry Dock U-Boat Hefeweizen with the Winter Beet Salad with warm goat cheese and pistachios.  This beer is one of the best Hefeweizen’s I’ve had in some time.  Crusted Prime Rib with fresh horseradish, Parmesan fries, and garlic au jus with Avery’s Dugana Imperial IPA.  It brings out delicious flavor in the prime rib roast and works the parmesan and garlic au jus.  I’m a fan of doing a Grand Folie (combining Great Divide’s Grand Cru with New Belgium’s La Folie Sour Brown) with the panned duck breast with foraged mushroom polenta, berry reduction, spinach leaf.  The berry reduction is brought out well with this combination.

Roast chicken with artichoke, garlic tomato jam, asparagus, and beer-baked mac-n-cheese goes well with Great Divide’s Hoss Rye Lager.

Full Menu


SALT (1407 Pearl St. Boulder, CO)

We know.  It’s in Boulder.  We get up there occasionally.  And with SALT, it’s a home-run each time.  SALT is heavily enriched by its farm-to-table philosophy and believes in putting the best ingredients on the table.  And we love their all-encompassing program.  From the food, to their cocktail program, and now their beer list.

The braised grass-fed Lasater ranch beef paired with Avery’s Salvation–a Belgian Strong Golden Ale.  Left Hand’s 400lb Monkey’s English Pale Ale pairs well with the winter vegetable tasting that includes red beet risotto cake, butternut cannelloni and garlic seared escarole.  Odell’s Bourbon Barrel Stout is an incredible pairing with the dark chocolate caramel salt tort.  The salinity in the dessert hits the bourbon flavorings well.  Bring me back some leftovers.

Full Menu


Vesta Dipping Grill (1822 Blake St.)

Hip, fresh, and delicious.  You can still try to knock it, but Vesta nails Denver Restaurant Week time after time.  With a great cocktail program set as the backbone, Vesta also has a great selection of beers.  Most importantly, Vesta had us at “bacon.”

Pair the truffled potato soup, bacon, egg and cheese salad and grilled shrimp satay with Great Divide’s Hercules or Russian River’s Damnation.  Ommegang’s Quad, “Three Philosophers,” is a delicious pairing with either of the desserts, red velvet cake with lemon sorbet or chocolate opera cake with espresso ice cream.  You can either go for the high acid flavoring with the sorbet to complement the cherries in the beer, or you use that Quad with the chocolate opera cake.

Full Menu


At the end of the day, please remember as a customer, you are getting a rare glimpse into a very affordable menu not otherwise offered.  This does not mean you can skimp on your payment.  Since you’re able to sample 3 various courses, expand your palate by asking your server what he/she would recommend for pairings.

(“Restaurant Game” Tip: If you want to have the most-cared for meal you’ve had, buy the kitchen a round of beers. They will pour love and adoration into your plate for a mere price of $15 extra.)

Be sure to tip your servers/bartenders generously.  They’re working hard for you!


About Jess Hunter

Jess is a lady and a scholar. If she's not mulling over the various names of famous mustaches and their respective bitter cocktails, she's nibbling on American Craft Singles and Cantillon. Connect with her by email at jesshunter@denveroffthewagon.com.