A handful of breweries? CNN's beer-city list misses the mark on Denver
If you like beer and have an Internet connection, you've probably seen CNN's list of the 8 Best Beer Towns in the USA that went up Monday.
While the list was better than most recent beer-city lists produced by national magazines and websites, it certainly had its share of problems. But for my purposes, let's focus on Denver, ranked fifth on the list. That spot is probably low, but it's acceptable in the grand scheme of things. The bigger problems had to do with CNN's description of our town.
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For starters, the article reads: "Neighborhoods like Platte Street and the Art District on Santa Fe are peppered with breweries."
Well, Platte Street isn't a neighborhood. It's a street, and it only has one brewery, Denver Beer Co. The Art District on Santa Fe is, in fact, a neighborhood, but it certainly isn't "peppered" with breweries. There are two: Renegade and Breckenridge.
Then it continues: "Elsewhere you'll find Avery, Renegade, New Belgium, Strange Brewing, Dry Dock and others, including Bull & Bush..."
Elsewhere? Yes, very elsewhere. Avery is in Boulder, Dry Dock is in Aurora and New Belgium is in Fort Collins (hey, CNN, Fort Collins is seventy miles away from Denver!). Why mix them in with three Denver breweries, seemingly picked at random, when there are so many other Denver breweries to name?
Perhaps because the author had no clue as to which breweries are actually in the city or how many of them there are -- a point driven home by the most egregious descriptor in the story, which reads, "...and while there are only a handful in Denver proper, there are loads of notable breweries outside town and in nearby Boulder."
So which is it? Are we peppered with breweries or are there just a handful?
In truth, "Denver proper" has between 21 and 24 breweries (depending on how you count) and is expecting ten more by the end of 2013. That is way more than a handful.
But if you add in the "loads of notable breweries outside of town and in nearby Boulder" that CNN refers to, then you begin to lose count. Boulder alone has nearly twenty breweries, while there are at least two dozen more "outside of town," depending on which parts of "outside of town" the author of the CNN list is talking about.
Beyond that, the range of what these breweries are doing -- whether it's specializing in niche beers, narrowly defined styles, boundary-pushing brews, a neighborhood fan base, unusual technique, equipment or personnel -- is stunning.
So please come back to Denver to do some more research, CNN. And this time, you should stay a while. You're going to need the time to get a real feel for our beer culture.
Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan
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