"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Momentarily Conquering Denver

Ah, the satisfaction acquired through finishing the last item on a to-do list.  The sense of completion!  The pride in a job well done!  One can take a step back, look at what’s been accomplished, and bask in the glory.  When one has visited every brewery in a city, it is that conquering feeling which wells up a beer geek’s ego.  It’s the feeling Nicole and I have right now.

The bigger the city the bigger the immodesty one feels.  Nicole and I have been to every brewery in Gunnison, Crested Butte, Del Norte, Niwot, Lone Tree, Alamosa, Frisco, Buena Vista, Poncha Springs, Salida, Broomfield, and many more but, in the end, who cares?  You could fit the collective population of those towns in a 10 barrel fermenter; it doesn’t take Genghis Khan to conquer those towns.  If talking about a town like Boulder or Ft. Collins, then we’re getting somewhere—they’ve got enough breweries where visiting all of them is an actual challenge.  Trust me, we’ve done it; we have been to every brewery in both Ft. Collins and Boulder.  However, due to the rapid growth of the craft beer industry, more breweries have since opened and Nicole and I can no longer make that claim.  We can, however, claim for a short time that we’ve been to every brewery in Denver. 

I stress that I do mean every brewery.  Longtime readers will know that Nicole and I have stipulations as to which breweries “count” when visiting every brewery in the state.  One such stipulation is that secondary, tertiary…etc. locations are to be ignored meaning that Breckenridge Brewery on Kalamath and Vine Street Pub & Brewery are not  represented in our overall, state-wide record (which is currently at 96).  Still, we’ve been to those no-count places anyway and, as such, have drank at every single brewery in Denver.

Our journey of completion began with a meal at El Camino Community Tavern in Highlands Square where I tried the house beer, a Dunkel called “Germexicman” from Prost Brewing.  I was sure it was a misspelling and that the beer was actually called “Germexican” but, when the server brought it to me, she pronounced it the first way—with the second “m.”  I’m not sure what that other “m” is doing there, to tell you the truth; I like it better without.

After snarfing my breakfast burrito (because I like breakfast anytime), we paid and drove a few blocks west to the service station-cum-brewery known as Hogshead Brewery.

The taproom itself is lively and bright with communal tables and floor-to-ceiling walls of windows which contradict the mahogany-clad, dimly-lit, stereotypical English pub many Americans have built in their minds.  However, if you live in the bright, cheery Colorado sun then you have to take advantage of the situation (although it was far from sunny the day we visited).

Eurotrash settling

We saddled up to the bar and I ordered Eurotrash Black Lager, dry-hopped with Saaz and served on a beer engine.  Eurotrash is mighty tasty; it’s creamy, citrusy, roasted, and it finishes dry.  While sipping on our beer, Nicole and I chatted up another customer about the current state of craft beer in Denver and the minutiae separating Scottish ales and Scotch ales.  It’s a friendly, neighborhood-centric crowd in Hogshead.

After Hogshead we headed to Denver’s newest (as of the time of this writing) brewery: DeSteeg Brewing.  “De Steeg” is Dutch for “the alley” and it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the inspiration for that appellation: the entrance is in the middle of an alley.  While DeSteeg enjoys a prime location in the Tennyson Arts District, it can’t benefit from foot traffic due to the fact that beer geeks have to walk around the block and halfway down an alley before they see any sign indicating they’re near a brewery.  And that’s awesome!  It lends DeSteeg an aura not unlike that of a Prohibition-era speakeasy; one almost expects a tiny peephole in the door to slide open and hear a gruff voice ask for the password.  

The interior of DeSteeg is barren: white walls, no artwork, and just a few, small alley-facing windows but, due to it being such a young brewery, one expects some decorations to be put up eventually.  The most notable feature of the taproom is the bar top which was of special interest to me because it involves the only geeky passion in my life that might rival my love of beer.  The bar top is made of old bowling alley lanes.  I couldn’t care less about that pseudo-sport but I do have a deeply-ingrained love for amusement parks and amusement park history and it just so happens that these lanes were in us at old Elitch Gardens.  The original location, before it moved downtown.  As both a beer geek and a coaster freak, I couldn’t tell you how much I enjoyed the marriage of my two biggest hobbies.    

There's a brewery just around that corner
Just down that alley, I swear
Seriously, we're getting close
There it is!
At the time of our visit, DeSteeg had three beers on tap: Pomegranate Açai Wheat (5.5% ABV), Imperial Pumpkin (11% ABV), and English Mild (5.5% ABV).

Pomegranate Açai is a cloudy, pale yellow with a tart and sweet aroma with that tartness accompanied by the spiciness of wheat defining the flavor.  With an American-style wheat foundation, one won’t find any clove or coriander in this beer.

The Imperial Pumpkin is amazingly drinkable considering its high ABV.  This hazy, orange beer tastes of lightly-buttered pie crust with sweet pumpkin and spices following soon after.  The aftertaste imparts a little alcoholic warmth as a reminder of the beer’s potency. 

Pitch black with an almost pure white foam, English Mild looks like a priest’s collar and it smells of tobacco, smoke, and vanilla.  It’s chocolate-y but it doesn’t have the bitterness of, say, cocoa nibs.  It’s more of a sweet, savory, brownie-like chocolate-ness.

Left to right: Pomegranate Açai, Imperial Pumpkin, and English Mild
With that, Nicole and I have crossed everything off our Denver beer list.  We have no delusions that our record will stand forever; there’s always a new brewery ready to pop up in a month or two.  Nevertheless, we think it’s a mighty fine accomplishment and we’re not going to let anybody forget how awesome we are until the next brewery forces us to reassemble and re-conquer the Mile High City.



After months and months of trying to forget our first visitation attempt [click here], we finally made it to Hogshead. First impressions are important and Hogshead did not make a good one but they’ve made improvements. The beer was enjoyable, the tasting room was full of happy beer drinkers, and the snow falling outside was picturesque.

We ventured out into said snow to visit DeSteeg.  Walking through the alley, we saw a perspective of the Tennyson Art District we’re not used to seeing.  We reached a sign with a beer glass on it; I had to assume we were in the right place.

We walked in, found a table, and Chris made his way to the bar. Remember when I said that first impressions are important?  DeSteeg did not make a good one, either.  Chris waited to give his drink order as the bartender sifted through tap receipts, walked to the other side of the bar, and then walked right past Chris to another couple waiting to order. Apparently, standing front-and-center with credit card in hand was not an indication that he was ready to order.  They’re a new brewery, DeSteeg, and they just need to iron out a few kinks in their service.

As Chris mentioned, the décor is stark; it isn’t exactly homey or welcoming. But, they are redeemed through their beer. It’s delicious!  The wheat did not have the typical coriander notes on which many wheat beers focus. It was, instead, tart and fruity and quite pleasant. I will certainly visit DeSteeg again because I have no doubt their tap list will provide even more interesting treats in the future.


Inside Hogshead

Inside DeSteeg

Inside DeSteeg

Bowling lane bar top at DeSteeg

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