Happy Place: The College Inn, 4400 East 8th Avenue, 303-329-9532.
The Hours: Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m.
The Deals: $2-$4 beer specials; $3 well drinks, wines by the glass, and Jim Beam; $5 appetizer specials.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: The iconic College Inn has been a fixture on the Denver dive bar scene for years, and even with recent renovations, it still has that dark and weathered feel. A perfect place for catching a game and hanging with friends, we like the College Inn for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it can accommodate a large, boozy crowd without feeling cramped. The main room boasts large leather booths, high top tables, and a roomy bar, while large garage doors open to the patio,making it an ideal perch for drinking on sunny days.
The Verdict: Our server placed two pints of beer in front of us as we tilted our heads toward the sun. While we were soaking up Indian summer, the table to the right was discussing a fantasy football draft, and the table to the left was having an argument about Peyton Manning. The bars in this city are always busy, but when football season rolls around, the throngs multiply, and this is a great place to hang with sports fanatics.
There isn't anything overly remarkable about the College Inn happy hour experience, but it's still a really good time. True, the beer list could be better, but considering this is a college bar -- and most college kids are on budgets -- it's sufficient. More than anything else, the College Inn is a lively sports bar serving decent food in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere with more than enough TVs to watch your favorite team kick some whoop-ass (or lose their ass).
But we came to eat and drink, and on our visit, we sampled an order of the pork egg rolls, fried cylinders of ground pork and cabbage, which were flavorful without being too greasy and were the perfect size to split among our friends. We followed up with fried pickles, whose sole purpose, it seems, are to pad your belly with some sort of sustenance while knocking back beer -- and that's just fine with us, because fried food paired with beer is always a lasting marriage.
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We like the service here, too. The staff is fast and charming, and we left with a happy buzz.