When Peter Coors visited the town in Germany whence the original Adolph Coors sprang, he liked the local lager. So he brought some back to Golden and gave it to the boys in the lab. "Can we make this?" he asked. Turned out they could -- and the result is Barmen, a very rare brew available in only a handful of places (among them the Brown Palace, the Bull & Bush and 240 Union) -- and only on tap. Since the brew isn't advertised, you have to ask for it by name; you'll also need to be patient, since it's a seven-minute pour. Real men drink Barmen.
For local beer hunters, no other bar touches the array of brews you can bag at Falling Rock. Owners Chris and Steve Black offer a palate-perplexing roster of over 70 draft beers and another 200-plus bottled versions; they eschew mass-market swill in favor of the best in national and craft beers. A year-round Great Global Beer Festival is as close as LoDo.
Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery
The warmth of the Mountain Sun lies in its intoxicating list of in-house beers. Brewer Mike Altman makes a dizzying selection of assertive, cut-no-corners beers, from the hoppy Colorado Kind to a toothy Scotch ale and a glorious, coffee-enhanced porter. As if that weren't enough exceptional brew, the house also serves a guest list of Colorado's best microbrews -- a bold move that other local brewpubs should emulate.
Don't tell Adam Avery that the thrill-seeking spirit of the craft-beer boom has faded. Adam builds his company's growing sales (and national reputation) on big beers that challenge the most jaded palates. His IPA is a world classic, his stout lives up to its Out of Bounds title, and Hog Heaven barley wine is one of the country's hoppiest beers. That high-octane wonder is now joined by the Reverend and the new Salvation, Belgian-style gonzo ales that overflow with flavor and alcohol. Avery's been very, very good to extreme beer nuts.
Bull & Bush Brewery
Hunter Stevens
This long-lived watering hole combines three of bar culture's better merits -- alcohol, televised sports and a convivial pub vibe -- for a pleasing new hybrid. But it's the in-house beer that elevates the Bull & Bush to all-star status and keeps regulars coming back year after year. Head brewer Gabe Moline crafts a long list of exceptional beers, most of them English-style ales rich with hops, flavor and true-to-style character. Moline's ESB, IPA and strong ales are superb, as are the B&B's brown ale and various breeds of wheat beer. D-town beer nuts can find no better place for filling their growlers than the Bush. Bully!
Wynkoop Brewing Company
Wynkoop Brewing
Wynkoop Brewing Co., Denver's oldest brewpub, sits in a historic building, and for a few years, the menu seemed as ancient as the space. But these days the kitchen is as hopping as what's brewing in those giant tanks, and the food is not only consistently good, it's cutting-edge fare. At no other brewpub would we be brave enough to try ahi tuna with a wasabe-based sauce and coconut sticky rice, or beer-battered rock shrimp with habanero-pineapple tartar sauce. And where else in town would the menu suggest you enjoy a stout with its charbroiled elk medallions in a brandy peppercorn sauce? Even the old standbys -- spicy, lamb-filled shepherd's pie, fish encased in a crackly batter made from the brewpub's own Railyard Ale -- taste better than ever. We toast the good pub grub at this Denver institution.
Casa Bonita
Casa Bonita may not immediately come to mind when you're searching for a dive. You're thinking a dark little hole-in-the-wall, not a giant original eatertainment complex filled with canned Mexican music and canned refried beans. But consider: Foodies certainly think they're slumming when they come here. And as at any more traditional dives, inadvertent entertainment abounds. Besides, at Casa Bonita you'll see actual dives -- executed off those fake cliffs by those built diving boys. For the best seat in the house, grab a palapa by the cliffs. Now order a round of margs and raise a glass to an underappreciated Colorado classic.
Lancer Lounge
At the Lancer Lounge, a true neighborhood joint, everyone knows your name -- even if you've forgotten it by the time you stumble in. Although legendary for its stiff drinks and amiable stiffs, the Lancer has some new bragging rights: It serves hearty, down-home food, thanks to Sully, who's now stirring the pot. A decided improvement over earlier operations (we're still trying to forget the Salvadoran-food era), the kitchen turns out a different -- and unbelievably cheap -- special every day. Monday's meatloaf plate is a real bargain -- but don't order so much that the Lancer can't sell its thick, filling meatloaf sandwiches the rest of the week.
The longest bar in Denver draws a clientele that's more eclectic and genuine than any you'll find at downtown's more freshly scrubbed haunts. Depending on the hour, Duffy's feels like an East Coast diner, a down-home cookery or a good ol'-fashioned Irish pub, where waitresses offer patience and sympathetic smiles to those who've had one too many Guinnesses. The look is lived-in, not dingy; the food inexpensive, not cheap. By serving up drinks with muscle in a friendly, folksy atmosphere, Duffy's remains a local favorite.
Already the bomb, Lime is primed to go thermonuclear once the good weather comes to stay. That's when owners Curt Sims and William Logan will throw open the French doors in the back of their basement space and debut Lime's grand outdoor patio, sunken below Larimer Square and surrounded by high brick walls. Until then, fast-spreading word of mouth will surely continue to pour bodies into the bar side of Lime, where the fresh, cool mood lighting designed by Logan and the bar's signature Mighty Margaritas make the long wait for a table on weekends a pleasure. To savor the decor along with a top-shelf shot of tequila, however, Lime is best experienced on weeknights, especially Wednesdays, when margaritas are two for one and Luke Grant spins jazz and dub from the lounge's DJ booth.

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