by Clay Moore
When I hear Denver, I think of three things: Broncos, Bob and Beer. Any beer drinker
knows that Colorado is known for its phenomenal array of craft brews, some of which
we are fortunate enough to get on the east coast.
I also hear they host something called GABF..
Though I haven’t confirmed it, a local (who claimed to have once worked a summer job
scrubbing empty kegs in near darkness at the “Adolph Coors Brewery”) told me that
there are 44 breweries in Colorado, mostly concentrated in Denver, Boulder & Fort
I wonder if current Coors employees have the benefit of sunlight.
This kind gent then followed up that they have a great beer out here called Blue Moon.
I think I’ve heard of it. (Orange slices of the world unite!)
Having to fly out to Denver for work severely limited my opportunity to take in Denver,
but you can’t have it all. I’m certain you could spend a month there tasting beers and
I first ended up in Golden, which was ironic. There was not much to see there but wet
snow and an odd statue of David standing over Goliath’s severed head in the courtyard
of an office park.
There must be at least 5 beer jokes in that visual.
My hotel had a small selection of beers: PBR, Coors Light, Bud Light, Alaskan Amber
and Fat Tire. I’ve heard good things about Alaskan Amber, but my pint tasted fishy.
Whether it was because I had a 2008 Avery Mephistopheles Stout ten minutes before,
or because the lines were dirty remains to be seen. I’ll never know.
Ten years ago, Fat Tire was described to me as “The Yuengling of the West.” I had it
for the first time in California in 2003, in Chicago in 2006 and recently, in New Jersey,
after I opened the fridge of my buddy’s housemate. That stash came from North
Carolina, which is as close as you can find it I’ve heard. For extra credit, I suggest
taking some time to read about New Belgium and their business model. Fat Tire is only
the tip of the iceberg with what New Belgium has to offer (hint: Ranger IPA).
I ended up having a very late dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack, a chain seafood restaurant
which has apparently made its way to NJ. However, Fat Tire and another New Belgium
selection, 1554 were on tap.
The next day, I traveled to Boulder. Driving towards the Rockies is one of the most
magnificent sites I have ever seen. As home to the University of Colorado, I can see
why people go west.
After work, I spied a corner tavern called The Sink. “On the Hill since 1923,” it
contains low ceilings, painted cartoon murals, signatures adorning the ceiling by
thousands of patrons and excellent food. What a find.
I had a 90 Schilling from Odell Brewing Company. Their flagship British Ale was very
smooth, and first debuted in 1989. It paired well with a grass fed free range burger and
sweet potato fries. As expected, a heavy rotation of Avery, Odell, New Belgium,
Oskar Blues and Stone rounded out the tap list. (The rumor was that Stone was a
recent addition after they came out to the area a few weeks earlier).
After commenting how tough it was to get certain beers back east, a bartender told me
that Yuengling was the most requested beer at The Sink, but they can’t get it. I didn’t
think I’d squeeze two Yuengling references in one article.
Around the corner, I spied Rose Hill Liquors, which I assume was a staple for any CU
student, with or without ID. Their 2 cooler beer selection was top notch, and included
Dogfish Head. I chuckled at the fact that great beers stood at eye level, while beers
from the “Big 3” were buried near my feet.
Scoring tickets from my college roommate, I arrived late to the Rockies/Nationals game
at Coors Field. I always find it exciting to visit new ballparks, especially a place that
serves as the footprint for many modern stadiums.
As expected, Coors Field contained the obligatory perks that make any new stadium so
catchy – open ductwork, light brick, green painted girders and food/drink stands every
5 feet. But I’m not complaining. I was pleased to see Fat Tire and 90 Schilling at just
about every stop. I enjoyed signs that read “Imported Beer,” but having only Coors,
Corona and Blue Moon.
Maybe Blue Moon is imported.
The onslaught of Coors labels and signs was enough to make NASCAR blush. It was
really out of hand, and I wonder if Miller Park or Busch Stadium are as egregious.
The highlight of the stadium was The Sandlot Brewery, which brews beer inside the
stadium, and has earned GABF awards for best small batch in 2005. While I recognize
that Coors is behind all of this, I must admit that their Sandlot Red was tasty.
I was fortunate that Falling Rock Tap House was only 2 blocks away, given a
horrendous rainstorm. Hailed by Celebrator Beer News as “Top Ale House in the US,”
and given an A+ grade by many local magazines and papers, I truly stumbled upon
I think it’s fair to say that a real beer drinker is both cynical and sarcastic, able to push
aside the usual marketing ploys that so many fall for. Falling Rock’s beer menu provides
“Serving Colorado’s finest selection of draught beer for 1/8 of a century.
All information is somewhat accurate at the time of printing, and less with
each passing minute.”
Coupled with the sticker “No Crap on Tap,” I knew I was at the right place. It had an
incredible selection of 80 beers on tap, with almost double that in bottles. I was
shocked to see so many quality taps and hundreds of used tap markers on the wall. It
truly was beer heaven.
I can only tell you that they had many beers from Colorado, Belgium, Germany,
Colorado (of course) & England, which filled up the majority of the taps. I highly
recommend Falling Rock if you are anywhere near LoDo. Unfortunately, their cask
selection, Left Hand Milk Stout, was empty.
Our bartender was extremely wise to beer and the beer industry. Donning a “West
Coast Hoppers” T shirt from Green Flash, he pegged me for someone who not only
loved beer, but writes about it. Guilty as charged.
He advised that Fat Tire will soon be available in NJ after New Belgium “signed a deal
with the devil” for distribution. I’ve heard one of the Big 3 will only distribute Fat Tire in
NJ, while another will shop other New Belgium brands. Stay tuned.
Denver is a great city, and I highly recommend it. However, you might need to remind
the woman in 20C that her seat is not a chaise lounge.
Is the nationally
aficionado and the
behind the best
"beer for the ear"