Why do we live in Colorado? Many will say the over 300 days of sunshine, while others will tout mountain adventures from hiking, biking, kayaking, and fishing to skiing, boarding, or the less graceful yard-sale, you get the picture.
Why do we live in Denver? Sure, we have quick access to all of the above, but many will say beer! Or their jobs, city amenities, chill people. Whatever the reason, beer is a common denominator. How do you blow off steam after work? Beer. Where do you go in the city? To one of 30 breweries within city limits. What do you do with your friends? Drink beer.
On Saturday, over 1,000 Denverites confirmed they made a great decision living where they do. The 2nd annual Denver (only) Beer Festivus presented by Denver off the Wagon and Imbibe, brought together 24 breweries located within Denver’s city limits at the McNichols Building in what was arguably one of the best festivals of the year.
The bi-level space made sampling beers from beloved breweries like Strange, Crooked Stave and Denver Beer Co a breeze, as tables were set up with plenty of room for guests to line up without having to constantly move out of the way for someone passing through. Clearly visible signs were also a plus.
Biker Jim’s brought infamous eats like reindeer sausage, while Slotted Spoon served up homemade meatballs, The Lobby dished out succulent tacos, and The Real Dill nailed it with a stellar lineup of pickles. Oh, and we can’t forget about the maple bacon donut from Glazed and Confused.
But, the best part of Festivus was the camaraderie. It was a true Festivus for the rest of us. Ugly sweaters and holiday-themed beers made for plenty of yuletide cheer between guests and brewers.
Being part of the beer community in Denver is a special thing. Collaboration between brewers and appreciation for others’ products is a strong piece of what has made Denver The Napa Valley of Beer.
“To be a part of the Denver brewing community means to be a part of a large family… of beer drinkers. Of a part of a family that helps each other out and figures out how to make the most of our craft, and to promote the elegance of the art and science behind craft beer,” says Danny Wang, head brewer of Caution Brewing Comany, which is opening its second location in Lakewood today.
At Festivus, old guns like Breckenridge, Great Divide, and Wynkoop poured beside young breweries DeSteeg, Hogshead, and several that have not yet opened up shop like Factotum, Station 26, and Former Future Brewing, which had one of the longest lines at the event for its blackberry session sour. While Former Future is not a sour-only brewery, they plan to have an ambitious barrel-aging program and the crew hopes to install a coolship within the first year at their South Broadway brewery.
TRVE Brewing, which opened last June, stole the show at Festivus with the debut of two sour ales, Manannan (on sale at the taproom 12/22), a sour brown ale fermented in whiskey barrels, and Winter Zephyr, a sour black ale fermented in red wine barrels.
“We’ve got a lot of great breweries getting set up here that hopefully will continue to push craft beer in a great direction through quality and creativity,” says TRVE’s Nick Nunns.
“There are great brewing regions everywhere, but Denver has become arguably the greatest and most diverse brewing city in the world,” says Scott Witsoe, owner and head brewer of Wit’s End Brewing Company, which poured its delightfully spiced Ugly Sweater winter ale on Saturday. “I am honored to operate a brewery in such great company, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of a community with some of the kindest and most passionate people I have ever met.”
From TRVE’s new Mythological Occult Ales series and Crooked Stave’s lineup of brett beers, to Hogshead’s English ales and Prost’s authentic German-style brews, this city’s beer scene is certainly diverse and always challenging palates.
“The Denver beer community is really carving out its rightful place as one of the best places for beer in the country, if not the world,” says Sarah Howat of Former Future Brewing. “We have what seems to be an endless supply of quality beer to enjoy, all brewed with hard work and love and passion.”
So, when people ask why we live in Denver, there are a multitude of answers, but the community we live in is likely at the top of everyone’s list. Beer is what brings us together and we can all cheers to that.