Best Place to Harvest Hops 2011 | Central City | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

The craft beers made in Colorado are fantastic, but if you want to make a beer with Colorado, you'll need to either grow your own hops or pick wild hops that grow like weeds on the hillsides around Central City. Legend has it that the vines were originally planted in the late 1800s by residents of this old mining town, who would then harvest the flowers and sell them to local brewery owners like Jacob Mack. And while the Mack Brewery now lies in ruins on the outskirts of town, the hops have kept that history alive. Need help finding them? Ask for advice from the folks at Central City's only active brewery, Dostal Alley, which makes one of its own beers from the wild hops.

Downtown boosters recently conducted a major study of the 16th Street Mall, which turns thirty next year, trying to determine what directional changes it needed to truly be a pedestrian paradise. Their conclusion? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. So beyond getting some basic repair work and a general sprucing up, the 16th Street Mall will carry on as it has for almost three decades, a mile-plus artery stretching through downtown that's an ideal place to stroll, window-shop for bad Colorado souvenirs made in China, and watch all kinds of people — from punks to businesspeople to buskers to tourists amazed by the bustle, some good, some bad, all lively. That's what you get at the heart of a vibrant city.

Junkies still miss the Stump, which supplied Rocky Mountain News readers with a regular fix of political tidbits. But its spirit lives on in the Spot for Politics & Policy, the Denver Post blog devoted not just to political news reported by the paper's own writers, but a roundup of other worthy stories in the fast-changing media world. At the center of the Spot is former Rocky reporter Lynn Bartels, who continues to be Denver's best, most tireless political beat reporter, covering — and uncovering — the scene with the verve of a sportscaster offering a play-by-play account of the biggest game in town.

Before he was elected to the Colorado Senate, Michael Johnston had achieved national renown as an innovative educator — and he didn't stop pushing the envelope when he became a legislator. While most lawmakers have a staff that consists of a part-time aide and a part-time intern, this session Johnston recruited a team of over twenty law students and experts to serve as his unpaid (except for credit) policy directors and analysts, with a goal of not just saving money, but increasing the public's access to information about the bills before the Colorado General Assembly. This committed crew puts in a total of more than 200 hours a week, researching proposals and writing non-partisan assessments that are available on Johnston's website. Want to educate yourself on what Johnston and his staff are doing for Colorado? Go to, and if you plan to attend a staff meeting, be sure to bring a lot of bagels and coffee.

Yes, doctor! There is nothing quite as exhilarating as waking up to the jubilant voice of Hal "Baby" Moore on Cruisin' Oldies 950. A seasoned radio vet with a half-century's worth of experience behind the mike, Moore is a living local legend. From his time at KHOW until now, at KRWZ, he's been the trusted on-air companion of several generations of Denverites. He's always a joy to listen to, whether he's sharing his memorable anecdotes from the past or offering insightful details of the songs he's playing. From the excitement in his voice as he pages through the annals of rock, you'd never know that these are tunes he's played a million times over. Hal reminds us of radio the way the way it was meant to be. There's a reason the Broadcast Professionals of Colorado have chosen Hal to enter their Hall of Fame.

When you're relegated to a windowless office or stuck behind the wheel in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Slacker and Steve, the hysterical duo who run the airwaves of KALC during the 3-to-7-p.m. time slot, make life much more bearable with their on-air theatrics and dramatics. From the Great Mate Debate, wherein couples argue over credit card debt, football, beer and ex-BFFs to the White Trash News Flash segment, five minutes of backwoods bumpkin accents articulating the world's weirdest news — the woman who carried a monkey in her bra and made it through the metal detector, for example — it's a laugh-out-loud romp of banter and conversation that never gets stale.

Mike Rosen's loss — big loss, since much of his nest egg was invested with Bernie Madoff — is Denver's gain. Rather than retire, Rosen's still on the air, and his experience shows: He's extremely fluid in his delivery, well-reasoned and well-read, incredibly versatile in subject matter. Rosen doesn't just bang an anti-Obama drum, although he does talk about politics (and features Governor John Hickenlooper once a month); he also devotes time to baseball, entertainment and, yes, grammar. Rosen is a talk-show pro who's only gotten better (read: more patient) with age — which may not translate to high ratings in this rant-rewarding climate, but pays off for listeners who actually want to hear intelligent discussion.

With its radial corners, crisp white walls and integral clock, the sleek streamlined moderne character of the onetime gas station at East Colfax Avenue and Race Street still showed through despite the grime it had accumulated during its decline over the last few decades. Nonetheless, it seemed that the 1930s building would surely meet an ignoble fate at the business end of a wrecking ball, as have so many other historic modernist buildings in Denver. But that changed this year when 7-Eleven remodeled and moved in. With that move, the famous chain won the preservation lottery — which, by the way, they don't sell tickets for — and shared the winnings with the rest of us.

While other anchors sometimes sound like they're phoning in their performances — simultaneously checking their 401(k)s to see if they can retire yet — Jim Benemann reminds us why newscasts were set up with an anchor desk in the first place. Benemann has a steady, calming presence that gives the appropriate gravitas to whatever story he might be delivering — but there's always the hint of a twinkle in his eye. If you still need your nightly newscast before you can go to bed, Benemann's just the man to tuck you in.

Although network news viewership is shrinking, Channel 9 remains a powerhouse. And Denver has a powerful fondness for the team featured on the KUSA Morning News, a newscast that stretches over two channels and so many hours that it someday may run right into the evening shows. This year it added an extra half-hour at 4:30 a.m. featuring Gregg Moss, who rejoined the fold last year; a savvy business reporter, Moss offers a particularly intelligent way to start the day. And he sticks around when the rest of the crew — avuncular Gary Shapiro, still pixieish Kyle Dyer, sports reporter Susie Wargin and weathercaster Becky Ditchfield — show up to help the rest of Denver get their morning going.

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