What image does Denver International Airport (DIA) project? The roof of the Jeppesen Terminal looks like snowcapped peaks so our mountains are represented. It features Western-inspired art like the “Spirit of the People” painting and that gigantic blue devil-horse off of Peña Boulevard so our history is on display, too. But what about Colorado’s most famous consumable? What about that $826 million, 5,000 personnel industry? What about craft beer?
True, craft beer has a presence at DIA; Boulder Beer, Rock Bottom, New Belgium, and Denver ChopHouse all have a presence at the airport but those are just individual businesses renting a location. It’s not as if DIA is actively supporting the local beer scene, it’s a simple tenant/landlord relationship. DIA showcases breweries the same way it showcases McDonald’s, Einstein Bros., and Panda Express—they’re simply paying to be there.
To really promote Colorado beer, the effort must be broader and cover a wider swathe of brewers; what makes any city’s brewing culture special isn’t only the nationally-recognized brands (which may or may not lease space from the airport) but also the small, hole-in-the-wall, local brewers. DIA got the memo—Denver’s the hub of craft beer and, for a limited time, that fact will stare visitors in the face before they can even claim their luggage.
One area in which out-of-towners will get a peek at Colorado’s beer culture is on the Concourse A walkway where, from September 20th through December, Colorado on Tap: The State of Brew Culture will be displayed. Exhibiting brewery memorabilia such as glassware, tap handles, and coasters as well as information on many of the state’s 200+ independent breweries, Colorado on Tap is a collaboration among DIA, Colorado Creative Industries, and the Colorado Brewers Guild (CBG).
Colorado on Tap is a good start but there’re two problems. First, it’s located on a walkway leading to, but before, the security check-point meaning a majority of the people passing the exhibit are departing Denver. That does no good; what’s a person to do with information about a city they’re about to leave? A few arriving passengers will benefit but only the handful who opt to walk from Concourse A to the terminal rather than take the shuttle train which bypasses the display. Second, looking at beer is okay but the best way to enjoy beer is to drink it. Thankfully, DIA’s got you covered.
From September 19th-October 4th, 11am-7pm each day, Beer Flights, a beer garden in the Jeppesen Terminal, will keep guests to the Mile High City well lubricated during this time of the year which, because of Oktoberfest, Denver Beer Fest, and the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), is a particularly advantageous time to be a beer-lover in Denver. Admission to the beer garden is $10 and includes a souvenir glass, a bag of pretzels courtesy of Southwest Airlines, and 10, 2-ounce pours from 11 Colorado breweries including Avery Brewing, Breckenridge Brewery, Bristol Brewing Company, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Great Divide Brewing Co., Left Hand Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing, Odell Brewing Co., Ska Brewing, Pug Ryan’s Brewing Company, and Telluride Brewing Co.
Breaking down the cost, that’s $10 for 20 ounces of beer. Assuming the average, ordinary craft beer costs about $5 for a 12-ounce American pint (16 ounces if filled to the brim but that’s not a proper pour) or $10 for 24 ounces, it’s actually an iffy proposition—that’s either four unaccounted ounces or $4 too many. Including a tiny taster cup and a baggie of airline pretzels in the admission fee doesn’t do much to close the financial gap, either. However, there are other perks to Beer Flights such as live entertainment in the form of musicians, talks with brewmasters, and beer trivia as well as a photo contest where guests are asked to use the Twitter hashtag #BeerFlightsDIA to win prizes such as snowboards, t-shirts, and package deals including a day out with Ska brewer Thomas Lawson. Hint: the contest judges are looking for originality so, even though it might not be comfortable airport attire, “Oktoberfest costumes are encouraged.”
There’s certainly a novelty factor at play here, too; when’s the last time you’ve drank at an airport beer garden? Beer Flights promises to be a unique, if fleeting, installment to the DIA landscape and the perfect way for any traveler in town for GABF to get their beercation started right!