BEST BREWERY TOUR 2006 | New Belgium Brewing Co. | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
A visit to the New Belgium Brewing Co. is intoxicating, and not just because of the generous selection of free samples -- although those certainly don't hurt. The buzz starts with the guide who welcomes you onto the last tour of the day, even though it's already filled with people who reserved their spaces in advance. The guide loves her job. She doesn't want to talk about how beer is made, but instead about her boss, the homebrewer who went on a trip to Belgium that changed his life, who today sends longtime employees to Belgium to experience the beers he experienced. She shows how the brewery was designed as a light-infused, energy-conserving, creative work space, and she lets you try out the winding, adult-sized metal slide. The tour makes you think about all the possibilities in life, about starting that business you always dreamed of or about finding the perfect job. And, then, at the end, you get to drink beer -- and stop thinking altogether.
Mark Antonation
The Atomic Cowboy recognizes that booze brings out your competitive side. Then again, so does every sports bar in Denver with a pool table or a dartboard. But those games require coordination and physical prowess -- two things most of us lack after a couple of rounds of Tanqueray-and-tonics. That's why the Cowboy graciously stocks a selection of board games that even your slumped-over lush of a girlfriend can play with her one functional eye. There are classics like Connect Four, Monopoly, Guess Who, Battleship and Uno, as well as games you have to be drunk to play: Simpsons Clue, Battle of the Sexes, the Sopranos board game and a Sex and the City edition. The collection of donated and forgotten games, combined with an atmosphere as comfortable as your living room, makes for the perfect night for those who went out hoping to stay in.
The Back Alley, a tiny, two-lane bowling alley tucked at the back of the Uptown Tavern, looks like it was made for munchkin ravers. But "Thunder Bowl" is a genius alternative to darts or Golden Tee. Each glow-in-the-dark lane can accommodate six people, and the bowling balls are just five inches in diameter and weigh only 3.5 pounds -- which means lifting one is almost as easy as raising a full mug of beer. And no bowling shoes are required on these hardwood floors. Although alcohol greatly increases the likelihood that you'll make a fool of yourself in the Alley's intimate confines, better the ball winds up in this gutter than you wind up in the one outside.


Harry's Bar

People who don't own their own bowling ball or shoes don't go bowling because they're hoping for a perfect game; they go to drink cheap beer, inhale stale cigarette smoke and talk shit about their gutterball friends. More often than not, the actual game takes a backseat to lowbrow banter and greasy concession-stand food. So why not just skip the sport altogether and head to Harry's Bar (not to be confused with the swank, retro digs inside the Hotel Magnolia), a dodgy dive that caters to the bowling-alley crowd who couldn't care less about fingering a twelve-pound ball. It's all here: colorful and questionably crazy regulars; comfy bar stools; a domestic-only draft-beer selection featuring Natural Light; cheap hot wings and pizza; and a retro Ms. Pacman arcade game. If you really want to score, hit twofer time, from 3 to 7 p.m. daily.
Already a popular hangout, PS 1515 gained a rep as a motorcycle- and scooter-friendly joint after the First Thursday Moto Rally debuted in its parking lot last May. Conceived by Aaron Scott as a place where moto-enthusiasts could grab a beer or a shot and talk bikes, the event established the restaurant and its sister lounge across the street as spots where anybody on two wheels could find a friend -- in human or liquid form. Even though the rallies are just once a month, PS 1515 will always rev up for a scooter enthusiast.
While planning for his swanky new steakhouse and saloon in Cherry Creek, Broncos icon John Elway called just one play out to the interior design team: Do whatever you like, but one of the bar stools has to be upholstered in gold leather. Why? Gold was the favorite color of the famous quarterback's late father and mentor, Jack Elway, and John made the request in tribute to him. And so it is that while most of the chairs in Elway's ever-teeming bar are a gorgeous dark maroon, there's one -- the Jack Elway memorial bar stool -- that's undeniable gold (as is his son's NFL Hall of Fame jacket, on view in an adjacent display case). Like Number 7 himself, the best seat in the house knows how to scramble: You're not likely to find it in the same place twice.

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