For craft-beer lovers who live inside Denver's city limits, there's not a lot of motivation to drive to a suburban brewery. For starters, there are dozens of terrific choices close by. There's also traffic, which gets worse every week, and the fact that no one wants to drive a car when they're sampling this state's fermented bounty.
But the brewery scene is booming on all sides of Denver, from Littleton to Lone Tree to Lakewood, from Brighton to Broomfield, from Arvada to Aurora, and from Westminster to Wheat Ridge. Over the last couple of months alone, six breweries have opened in cities surrounding Denver. Two of them are major relocation/upgrades, two are expansions of existing Denver-area companies, and two are brand-new businesses just waiting to be discovered. So get out of your bubble and into an Uber, and give these six new breweries a shot.
Big Choice Brewing
21 South First Avenue
After five years in a Broomfield business park, Big Choice Brewing picked up and moved east, settling into a 1940s-era former Buddhist temple in the Adams County town of Brighton. The brewery held its grand opening just last week. Although the move was disruptive to the business and a downer for Broomfield locals, it will give Big Choice the opportunity to grow and to provide a nicer atmosphere. Big Choice now has two outdoor patios, a twenty-tap draft system, high ceilings with exposed wooden beams, and room for 180 people in 5,300 square feet of space. “The new space will allow us to grow and come into our own,” says Andrea Miller, who founded Big Choice in 2012 with Tyler Ruse and her husband, Nathanial Miller. “There are a lot of breweries out there, and most of them can provide a great taproom experience. Those kinds of amenities are important to people. We really want to increase our taproom presence.” Big Choice, which is named for a 1994 album by the California punk band Face to Face, will continue to give off a mid-’90s vibe with its music.
Denver Beer Co
5768 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard
From the very beginning, when they opened their first location in 2011 on Platte Street, Denver Beer Co owners Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford have had a knack for creating atmosphere. Open spaces, long benches and welcoming bars and patios are the hallmark of both the original spot and their newest location, inside a former Craig Chevrolet Dealership in Olde Town Arvada (the company also owns a production facility and taproom in the Sunnyside neighborhood). The 4,350-square-foot brewery (which kept the old Stevenson sign) opened in mid-June and includes its own seven-barrel brewhouse, a 1,500-square-foot beer garden, and Mighty Burger, a permanent indoor fixture that slings artisan burgers out of an airstream trailer. DBC serves all of its staples at the Arvada taproom along with some beer selections brewed only on site. “Our Platte Street building was formerly a car service garage as well," Crawford pointed out when DBC first found the location, adding that he looked forward to renovating another old garage "and turning it into a vibrant and fun community hangout."
The Grist Laboratory
9535 Park Meadows Dr. Unit F
Grist Brewing, which was founded in 2013 in Highlands Ranch, opened a second location in late May about ten miles east, next door to the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant in Lone Tree. The spot is dubbed the Grist Lab because it houses a small, 3.5-barrel brewhouse where Grist's brewers can experiment with different ingredients, techniques and styles without having to commit to brewing a twenty-barrel batch at the original location. There's nothing small about the rest of the space, though: at 5,500 square feet, it includes a large taproom with 24 taps serving a wide variety of beers. There is also an outdoor deck upstairs with views of the area. Brewer Steve Nolan will oversee the brewing at the new spot. “We love the community that has supported us in Highlands Ranch and allowed us to thrive, and we hope to add to that community with this second taproom in Lone Tree," Grist general manager and part owner Rob Kevwitch said in May. "Besides, you all know we're science geeks; now we have a true beer laboratory. What more could a geek ask for?"
3225 South Wadsworth Boulevard
Colorado may not have any large bodies of water, but we do use what water we have to make great beer. Friends Nick Stafford and Tyler Burgei have wanted to add to the scene since 2012, when they decided to open a brewery. Although the duo suffered numerous setbacks along the way, they were finally able to open the doors to Landlocked Ales on June 24. The brewery specializes in making lower-ABV session-style beers, meaning they are typically under 5 percent ABV; these include a 3.3. percent ABV English mild, a 4 percent Kolsch and a 4.7 percent porter. "This allows our customers to be able to hang out and enjoy the beer before getting rosy in the cheeks," the brewery says. Landlocked just tapped its biggest-ever beer last week, a 6.3 percent oak-aged old ale.
Lost Highway Brewing
12741 East Caley Avenue, Unit 140
James and Tina Pachorek, who owned the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe on East Colfax Avenue for ten years, are Denver beer nobility. No, really: James was "knighted" in 2011 by by a Belgian beer organization called the Knighthood of the Brewers’ Mash Staff. In 2014, the Pachoreks, who love Belgian beers, opened Lost Highway Brewing next door to the Cheeky Monk, but decided last year to close the restaurant and move the brewery to Centennial, where they could focus on making, serving and packaging their new creations. The new Lost Highway opened its doors in June and began brewing in early August under the auspices of head brewer Brian Connery, who had the same job at Dad & Dudes Breweria before that. Lost Highway has more space in Centennial and plans to begin canning and distributing some of its beers in September.
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Mother Tucker Brewing
2360 East 120th Avenue
Mother Tucker Brewing has a "no asshole" rule, FYI. It's posted on the wall. It also has ten beers on tap, a Crowler machine and a community feel that has found a fast following. Opened by Scott and Deb Tucker in late spring, the brewery is currently the first and only craft beer maker in Thornton. Beers run the gamut of styles, from a cream ale and a Belgian-style wit to a saison, a hefeweizen, an IPA, a nitro stout and an English porter. "After decades in corporate America we agreed it was time to start living our dreams," the Tuckers wrote on Facebook when they opened. "The premise was simply to create an environment that incorporates all the things we love: time with family, great music, chillaxin’ with friends and of course, brewing delicious beer." Oh, and as for the name: "the Tucker family mothers have lovingly been called 'Mother Tuckers' for three generations."