"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!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Re-Conquering Denver Before the New Year

It’s the end of the year and time is running out!  Here’s a quick and dirty post about Zephyr Brewing Co., Fiction Beer Company, and Creede Brewing Company—the last three Denver breweries Nicole and I had yet to visit.  Going into 2015, we can say for the third time that we’ve conquered all the Denver breweries. 

Zephyr Brewing Co.

Thoughts on the space: Yet another brewing addition to the River North (RiNo) neighborhood, Zephyr is located on the garden level of a multi-tenant building at the corner of Walnut and 26th Street.  Sunken into the earth, it’s a pseudo-basement and feels like a venue for a hardcore punk rock concert with its exposed pipes and concrete walls.  Despite the industrial nature of the space, it retains a warm and welcoming ambiance with a glass garage door letting in a surprising amount of light as well as a massive, curved bar decorated to look like a barrel.
Inside Zephyr

Thoughts on the beer: Sampling three beers, the stand-out was Dark Chocolate Raspberry stout.  It tastes just like it sounds: dessert in a glass.

General thoughts: Another brewery in RiNo?  Yes, and here’s hoping a lot more move in.  I love the concept of a brewery neighborhood.  A brewery city (e.g. Denver) is great but the convenience and, for lack of a better word, coolness of having so many beer-makers in a single, defined area is hard to beat.  RiNo is Denver’s beer showcase to the rest of the world.  If you beercation in Denver, please check out lots and lots of different neighborhoods but remember this paraphrased Elitch Gardens slogan: “not to drink in RiNo is not to drink in Denver.”        

Fiction Beer Company

Thoughts on the space:  Three walls-worth of windows makes Fiction, a book-themed brewery, quite dissimilar to the dark canyons of shelves and catacomb-esque study rooms of a traditional library.  This bright and airy taproom features comfy leather seats, lively artwork, and, yes, books.  In fact, the entire front of the bar is faced in hardcovers.  Don’t worry, bibliophiles, I checked a number of the titles used in the bar’s construction and it doesn’t appear as though they actually used any “good” books.  The world won’t be any worse off with one less Sue Grafton novel in it. 

Left to right: 42, Communal Synergy, & Autumn Stars, a pumpkin saison

Thoughts on the beer: Green Tea Chocolate Milk Stout is a minty delight and Communal Synergy, a double IPA, was surprisingly tasty.  With so many IPAs on the market, it’s hard to get noticed in the crowd but  Communal Synergy caught my attention nonetheless.  It wasn’t anything unusual; it was just really, really good and fresh.  I have no qualms putting it in my top ten list of favorite double IPAs. 42, a bourbon porter brewed with 33 pounds of maple syrup, 30 pounds of donuts from Glazed & Confused, and 27 pounds of donut glaze sounds like a wild and wacky beer but the flavors are actually quite traditional.  It’s a decent beer but, with a backstory like that, I’d prefer a little more pizzazz.

Fiction's bar
General thoughtsBoth Fiction and Lost Highway claim to be the first Denver brewery to open on Colfax.  One of you is lying!  And, if my quick Google research is to be believed, Lost Highway is the fibber.  It looks as though Lost Highway opened on September 26th of this year and Fiction six days earlier on the 20th.  Not that it matters; they’re both exceptional breweries; But, there can be only one first.  Unless they both opened at the same time on the same day.  Which they did not. 

Creede Brewing Company

Creede is pretty hard to spot from the road
Thoughts on the space:  Way up north in unincorporated Denver, off an unpopulated stretch of Washington Street, sits Creede at the end of a nondescript strip mall.  There’s not much on the outside that lets you know there’s a brewery in there, especially with cars parked in front blocking the low-hung banner.  Once inside, the taproom is small and simple with a moderately-sized bar in front of a modest walk-in cooler.  Wooden tables, Old West-style photos on the wall, and a smattering of Denver Broncos paraphernalia fill-out the rest of the space.

Inside Creede
Thoughts on the beer:  Being located in the boondocks and in a shopping center that time forgot, Creede’s in an inauspicious and unknown location.  Who would expect good beer to come from there?  Those who search, however, are rewarded with a true hidden gem.  Creede is pumping out some very interesting brews like an IPA made with an experimental, as-yet-named hop variety boasting strong tropical fruit aromas and a powerful, bitter bite as well as a tart peach ale and a chili ale that can be ordered straight or with a splash of the house Bloody Mary mix. 

General thoughts:  In most businesses, it’s location, location, location.  Not so with the brewing industry, there are plenty of tucked-away breweries in Denver: Wit’s End, Strange, CAUTION, DeSteeg,…etc.  Creede is in good company and, so long as they keep brewing innovative beers, local beer geeks will keep making the trek up to that isolated beer oasis.

Quite a creative beer menu at Creede 

All these breweries deserve an entire post dedicated to them but time waits for no man and I wanted to give them at least some credit before we hit the New Year.  Sparse though this post may be, there’s an easy and fun way to accrue more information on each of these breweries: go visit them!



Artwork at Fiction

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