Another three-day weekend, another travel opportunity! We love holiday weekends so much that we got married on one, purposely to have the opportunity to travel in celebration every year. [Author’s note: This trip was so packed with beer, snow and fun that it has taken my body an entire week to recover, and my mind an entire week to grasp everything that we got ourselves into. I have spared no detail!]
This excursion took us to Denver, CO – a state that neither of us had been to before. We wanted to explore this city that is known for its mile-high elevation, its local craft breweries, and its superbly-cool culture. (Seriously, we were worried we might not be ‘cool’ enough to fit in… jury’s still out on that theory.)
Our loose itinerary included exploring the Lower Downtown ‘LoDo’ Denver near where we were staying on Friday; snowmobiling in Winter Park, CO and exploring (aka drinking all of the beer in) Boulder, CO; and on Sunday, exploring the River North ‘RiNo’ area of Denver on Sunday. (Monday’s itinerary: sobbing and whining that we’d have to head home.)
When we landed in Denver, not even the jetlag, 40-minute Lyft ride nor the time difference could stop us from having three beers with lunch at one of the most innovative tap rooms in all of Denver. Euclid Hall had unique food, and a great atmosphere with endless selections of local craft beer. The building was built in 1883 giving it a distinctive vibe, and the staff couldn’t have been any more pleasant. Euclid Hall gave us a warm welcome and knew just how to quench our thirst.
After checking into our Airbnb on 15th Street in Downtown Denver, we headed to three breweries for food and drink that evening. We loved staying on 15th because we found ourselves in the middle of everything; just one block from the 16th street walking mall, a three-minute walk to several Denver breweries, and famous restaurants including Sam’s No. 3 Diner. Friday led us on a journey to several boozy stops. [Author’s note: the beer may or may not have tasted better the more we had to drink; everyone around us got funnier, and better looking, too… weird.]
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Typically we try to avoid ‘chain’ restaurants during our travel, but this particular location was recommended by locals for the vibe, food options and wide selection of adult beverage. We both found beer that we enjoyed, and the bartenders were helpful with information for we tourists. I’d recommend this if you don’t know where to get started yet on a trip, and want to start somewhere that’s got a little more variety than a typical brewery.
Strange Craft Brewery
A MUST on your trip to Denver; don’t be discouraged by the location which is in an old industrial park off by itself. This is without a doubt a place for locals, mostly everyone was decked out in Patagonia and flannels with a cool casual vibe. The brewers & staff were super-friendly, and we enjoyed a full flight of everything they had on tap that evening Delicious beer, friendly atmosphere. Bonus: they had a taco truck on site and while they can’t take all the credit – the food was a big selling point as well.
Two breweries and lots of beer in, we didn’t realize at first that Tivoli was located on University of Colorado’s campus; this made it even cooler after the fact. Tivoli was located in an old train station that has transformed into something of a student center. We had a flight that included several wheat beers and IPAs, which were well made. Definitely one to check out if you’ve got the time and would also like to see CU’s campus.
We woke up hungover and excited to tackle Saturday’s snowmobiling adventures & Boulder exploration. We headed up the mountain 90 minutes to Winter Park, CO – a four-season resort that offers snow sports in the winter, and rafting/hiking excursions in the summer. We loved Winter Park and snowmobiled with a company called Great Adventures. Incredible views at an elevation of 11,500 feet, fresh powdery snow and an enthusiastic guide made this our favorite part of the Colorado trip. Don’t go to Denver without trekking up into the mountains; the views alone are worth the trip.
Ok, back to the beer.
Boulder, CO Beer Tour included:
Avery Brewing Co.A must, must, MUST if you are in the state of Colorado. This is a nationally known, HUGE brewery that would make anyone want to love beer, brew beer and live around the beer culture. They have a variety of choices: sours, IPAs, stouts, you name it – they’ve got it. With three different bars and a self-guided walking tour of their brewery, you can immerse yourself in their large company, while also feeling like you’re one of the locals. This brewery gave me my favorite beer of the trip, the Apricot Sour. Seriously, I could have sat and drank at this brewery all evening.
Boulder Beer Company
A local joint for Boulder-ians, though not our favorite among beers we had tasted. They did have a delicious Nitro Porter called ‘Shake’ – which quite literally tasted like a chocolate milkshake. They also had a build your own burger menu with literally any strange, unique topping you could think of; so if you want a ‘unique take’ on ‘burgers & shakes’ – go ahead and build your own burger and get the ‘Shake’ beer at this local hot spot.
Twisted Pine Brewing Co.
One of our favorites of the trip. Known for it’s innovative beer and pizza, this is a must see if you’re in Boulder. We didn’t find a beer we didn’t like among their variety, including a wheat beer infused with chili peppers ‘Billy’s Chillies’, and the music they were playing (90s!) made me want to stay at this brewery eating pizza, drinking beer, and jamming out all evening. [Author’s note: buy a hat, their logo is awesome.]
After some body and mind recovery, we woke up Sunday for our last full day in Denver. We visited the 16th Street Walking Mall, a street in Denver that is flooded with shops, and great local restaurants. We hopped on the (free public) bus to Union Station, a historic train station that has turned into a beautiful hotel with a public concourse with a bar, restaurant and area for gathering in between travel. Not only is this area of town home to the Colorado Rockies stadium, it is also the home to lots of great beer, and bonus, pancakes!
The locations we visited on Sunday included:
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Snooze was recommended to us by several friends who had visited Denver before. The best part of this meal was easily the pancake flights, which practically begged us to choose from the 12 or so delicious flavors. Much like our beer flights, only a different kind of carb without the hangover. We tried Cinnamon roll, Peanut Butter, Blueberry Danish, Molten Chocolate and more; we were not disappointed. Top those sweet flavors off with a hash brown the size of my fist and two delicious mimosas, and this is certainly a restaurant experience you won’t want to miss on your Denver trip.
This brewery was founded by a previous Denver Mayor, and is the oldest brewpub in Denver. It’s located in a great part of town, and the atmosphere and history alone makes it worth the stop. We recommend you get ballsy and try the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, a beer brewed with Bull Testicals. Because you know what they say, when in Denver, try the beer with the ‘nutty’ notes. (Get it?)
Great Divide Brewery
This nationally known brewery didn’t disappoint, and they have several locations in Denver. We went to the Ball Park Tap Room location because of what part of town we were exploring, but they’ve also got a Packaging Hall that we drove by several times that looks like a great atmosphere as well. We enjoyed their Colette Farm House Ale, and the Yetti Stout, which came in a Nitro Version, as well as other variations because we visited in a cold weather season.
Easily our favorite brewery of the entire trip, for several reasons. When you pull up to Crooked Stave, you’re a little unsure of what you’re going to see when you walk in. It’s located in the back of this industrial warehouse called The Source, a hip place that is also home to many other vendors including a coffee shop, photography studio, market, and restaurant (that served meat cones, yes – like ice cream cone only with meat…). Exposed brick and floor to ceiling windows make this vibe an inviting one, intriguing to locals and visitors alike. Every single beer we tried was spectacular, they specialize in sours which drew me in in the first place! Our favorites were Batch 200, a raspberry sour, and the Petite Sour Rosé, a sweet sour that was as tart as my attitude when I’m hungry. As the last brewery on our trip, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Crooked Stave knocked it straight out of the park.
We ended Sunday with a walk through Larimer Square, filling our beer-loving faces with steak tacos and queso fundido from Tamayo. Larimer Square had lights strung from one side to the other of the main street, and in the trees above us. There were restaurants and little shops, and though it was nighttime and we couldn’t explore it as much as we would have liked, we could have easily spent a whole day eating, drinking and shopping our way through that appealing area. Definitely another must-see on a trip to Denver.
When we got up Sunday morning to fly home, our livers thanked us, but every other body part begged us not to leave. We loved the mile-high city and will yearn for the day that we can return… after we check off all of our other travel locations, of course!
Cheers (to lots and lots of beer),