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Get behind-the-scenes looks at Denver’s thriving beer scene, including the largest single-site brewery in the world, as well as specialty microbreweries. To enrich your experience even further, delve into the fine craft alcohol scene with tours of Denver's distilleries.
Note: Tour times are subject to change. Please call ahead to confirm.
Wynkoop's architecture is typical of the neighborhood, with hardwood floors, exposed brick walls covered with artwork and big open windows. The second floor of the huge pub has 22 pool tables, multiple dart boards and other bar games. There are always more than a dozen craft beers on tap. The flagship beer (available in cans) is Rail Yard Amber Ale, a smooth amber with the malty flavor of an Oktoberfest lager. For a true Colorado experience, try Patty's Chile Beer, a German-style lager made with chiles and smoked Ancho peppers.
Direction to next stop: Walk west on Wynkoop two blocks to the 16th Street Mall, then turn left and walk seven blocks to Curtis.
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.
Direction 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 the far side of the street.
After crossing the bridge, you've entered LoHi, one of Denver's hippest and fastest-growing neighborhoods. Before you reach your next destination, stop on 16th Street when 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!
Now, on to the next sip. Recess Beer Garden is a great introduction to this section of town. Although no beer is brewed here, Recess offers 24 beers on tap, including plenty of local and Colorado drafts, along with out-of-state brews, ciders, seltzers, wine, cocktails and kombucha. The staff is beer savvy and will work with you to find the perfect selection, whether it's light, hoppy, malty or complex. Post up in the beer garden with some friends as you play yard games and enjoy everything Denver and Colorado have to offer.
Directions to next stop: Exiting Recess, turn right and then take another immediate right onto 32nd Avenue. Walk two and a half blocks east until you reach a sharp turn in the road — and your next destination.
If all this walking has worked up an appetite, end your night with dinner (and another beer) at Avanti F & B, one of Denver's most popular spots for foodies. Inspired by European markets and food-truck roundups, Avanti bills itself as a modern-day food hall, offering up seven different restaurant concepts under one roof. Grab a Neapolitan-style pizza, some TexMex BBQ or a traditional arepa. There are also two large bars — one upstairs and one downstairs — with 20 draft beers on tap, many from local breweries.
Directions to next stop: Return to the Light Rail station the same way you came. From here, you can catch the free shuttle to anywhere on the 16th Street Mall.
Take a tour of the bucolic Breckenridge Brewery facility in Littleton. You'll walk through the whole brewing process and see from start to finish how Breck Brew gets the beer to your bottle. Everything from the 100-barrel brewhouse, to the fermentation hall, to the bottling line...and all with a complimentary beer in your hand! You'll taste and talk about the company's different beers and how they're made. Tours cost $3 and begin and end in the tasting room. We recommend grabbing a meal at the excellent Farm House Restaurant while you're there.
One of Boulder's most beloved brewers, Avery Brewing Company is rapidly making headway on the national beer scene. Last year the company moved into a new $27 million "dream brewery" in north Boulder, upping both their brewing capacity and tap room seating.