Saturday, 5 March 2016

DRINKING NOTES FROM A BIG COUNTRY (PART 5) - DENVER DECEMBER 2015




DRINKING NOTES FROM A BIG COUNTRY (PART 5)

 

Mile High City

Last stop on the December 2015 US tour was Denver Colorado. Nicknamed the Mile High City this place was probably the stop I was most looking forward to on my tour of the US. With a reputation for a cracking craft beer scene, I didn't need to look too hard to find some places I was excited about checking out. So with just one night to explore, a fist full of dollars and my drinking boots on I set out for my one man pub crawl!

For a December night at one mile altitude in the northern states the weather was incredibly mild. Only a week beforehand I had walked through Central Park in New York with it feeling more like Autumn than Winter and here I was again needed little more than a thin jacket to stave off the evening chill. As such I decided to walk the mile or so to the first pub and walked past a conference centre with a rather interesting display outside...

Readers of past blogs may understand my excitement about finding this guy!

 

I Remember When I Found out About Chemistry

First stop of the crawl was Euclid Hall. This trendy and very busy establishment had one of the most interesting ways of dividing the enormous beer selection I've ever seen. Standard approaches might categorise beers by price, style, origin or depth of colour but this place divided them by complexity! What's better is the names of the categories ranging from Arithmetic (The low alcohol, sessionable easy drinking styles), to Algebra (slightly more complex styles), to Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus and their most complex range - Quantum Mechanics!

I instantly fell in love with the place and it's ingenious system of beer listing. It did mean if you just fancied a rather bland lager then it was easy to pick and if you happened to be in the mood for an Imperial Stout brewed with Cacao and space yeast you knew which page on the menu to turn to!

I decided to start the night simple with a Kolsh and headed off shortly after. This place just got too busy for a solo session.
 
 

It Does What It Say's on the Tin

Second stop was a place called Freshcraft and it really did live up to it's name. They had some great music on (ranging from Bob Dylan to Modest Mouse) and a great selection of craft beer. I was peckish by this point so I also tucked into some tasty mac'n'cheese (I can't say this without doing a ridiculous American accent!). I tried a collaboration brew between Freshcraft and SKA brewing, a double IPA, perhaps somewhat obviously dubbed 'FreSKA'. This was a great beer and the intense hoppy nature was balanced well with the malt backbone and cut through the grease of the bacon topped mac and cheese perfectly.

I also tried a couple of fruity twists on some classics - these being Modus Mandarina by SKA brewing (using mandarins of course) and a twist on one of my favourite beers - Ballast Point, Skulpin 'grapefruit' IPA. I passed on trying a beer called IBS, for some reason it didn't appeal and I wasn't sure if they named it that just for shits and giggles...

 The Mandarina was great but the prize for the punch in the mouth of citrus goes to...

 

Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine Beers on the Wall, One Hundred and Ninety Nine Beers...

 
Next stop on the tour was the Falling Rock Tap House. With dozens of taps including hand pull beer engines serving up local cask ale I couldn't resist but stay for a couple. I tried the Local brewery Great Divide's noble efforts in the Titan IPA and the Hibernation. Both excellent and what I'd come to expect in terms of quality from American craft beer.

I didn't bother counting the number of bottles on the walls but if this place ever has an earthquake it's going to be a messy day in the office!

   I'll Have Mine with Extra Vampire Repellent!

Last stop on the tour (by this time I was peckish) was Mario's Two Fisted Pizza Place. There are not many light night Pizza joints which serve craft beer whilst you wait and have a live music lounge next door with leather trench coat clad aged rockers who seem to have happily traded their bus passes and false teeth for a shot at the Karaoke big time! And to kick it off I loved the description of garlic on the menu. How this place managed to cram 'Dive Bar', 'Pizza Joint' and 'Craft Beer' under one Karaoke rocking banner. Some how this place managed it and it was a top spot to finish the night.

Just had to tip. Just had to!

 

Shipping Out

Overall I was so pleased to have had the chance at a brief tour round Denver's beer scene but felt like I barely scratched the surface. I'm already thinking about good reasons to justify a return visit! I loved driving round with the mountains on the horizon and a generally cool use of open urban spaces which I love to see. On my way out I spotted these guys which struck me as a novel use of old shipping containers and brightened up the place to boot.


 

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