It is estimated that more than 200 different beers are brewed in Denver every single day, giving The Mile High City its claim as the “Napa Valley of Beer.” With so many choices, where do you take your first sip? Here's a walking tour that takes you from LoDo (lower downtown) to LoHi (lower Highlands), visiting several beer hotspots along the way. If you want a guided walking tour, check out the Denver Microbrew Tour. It's a 1.5-mile tour in LoDo that includes 10 samples at four of downtown's best breweries and tap rooms.
ROCK BOTTOM BREWERY
Today, Rock Bottom Brewery is a major chain with more than 30 breweries that produce 700 different craft beers that have won over 125 medals. But their brewery in Denver is the "mother ship," the first brewery of the chain when it opened in 1990. Rock Bottom has one of the best locations on the 16th Street Mall, Denver's mile-long pedestrian promenade. There are 41 outdoor patios along the Mall, but the one at Rock Bottom is the largest and one of the most popular. On summer weekends, bands play and hundreds of people gather to sip craft beer on the patio under twinkling lights, as horse-drawn carriages clatter by. The interior of the massive bar is built around towering glass windows displaying the brewing equipment. It can be noisy, crowded and fun, as the bar brings in an attractive crowd of young downtown office workers. For a quieter experience, head to the back bar, which has pool tables and a staff that's both knowledgeable and passionate about craft beer. Rock Bottom features the standard IPAs, Red Ale, White Ale, Dark Ale and a Winter Tartan Ale, as well as the always popular Molly's Titanic Brown Ale. The brewmaster at each pub creates specials, so check what's on the current beer list, and especially look for the hand-pulled cask-conditioned ales in the back room.
DIRECTIONS TO NEXT STOP: Catch the free MallRide bus at the corner of 16th and Curtis and take it north to the final stop at the Union Station Light Rail. Walk back to 16th Street and over the Millennium Bridge (easily identifiable by the tall white mast). Continue straight through the Riverfront development and across Commons Park to a second pedestrian bridge over the South Platte River. On the other side of the bridge, walk one block to Platte Street and turn right. Denver Beer Company is on far side of the street.
ALE HOUSE AT AMATO'S
After crossing the bridge, you've entered LoHi, one of Denver's hippest and fastest-growing neighborhoods. Ale House at Amato's is a great introduction to this section of town. Although no beer is brewed here, the restaurant is owned jointly by Wynkoop and Breckenridge breweries and features 40-plus craft beers on tap, including several rare and hard-to-find Colorado microbrews. The staff is beer savvy and will work with you to find the perfect selection, whether it's light, hoppy, malty or complex (and your beer, of course, will be poured into the appropriate style of glass). The entire roof of the bar is an open-air beer garden with outdoor fireplaces and sweeping views of Downtown Denver. It's especially pretty at twilight when the sun sets over the visible Rocky Mountains to the west.
Want a break from beer? There are plenty of wines to choose from, as well as hand-crafted cocktails. Or take a different break and walk two blocks uphill on 16th until you see a 30-foot-high milk can. This is the legendary Little Man Ice Cream, where they produce hand-made, small-batch ice cream, created with some of the finest local ingredients. Relax with a triple scoop (we're partial to the Salted Oreo) in their outdoor ice cream garden. For those poor souls who have trouble with milk? They sell a Lactaid pill for 50 cents!
DIRECTIONS TO NEXT STOP: Exiting Amato's, turn left and walk four blocks northeast along Central Street.