Best Pool Hall 2011 | Wynkoop Brewing Company | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Wynkoop Brewing

With its creaking old floors, smoothed wooden fixtures and green lamps, the pool room on the second floor the Wynkoop Brewing Company forces you to stand at attention and show respect for another time and place in Denver history. And the beer's not bad, either. The pool hall includes twenty-plus billiards tables, shuffleboard and darts, and it features a bar back that was once part of the Tivoli Brewery. But it's the tables that matter — tables where you can usually find Denver's resident pro, Melissa "The Viper" Little, who practices there, gives lessons and generally holds court on her status as one of the best players in the nation. Even better, you can play free during the day Mondays through Thursdays — which is good for the pockets and even better for your pocketbook.

Fido doesn't care if it's vertically sleeting cats and, er, dogs. Fido wants to go for a walk. What to do? Comfy K9 opens its 22,000-square-foot doggy daycare and kennel facility to the public every weekend for community frolicking and fun. Admission is free, although a donation of $5 is suggested to benefit the National Mill Dog Rescue. Up-to-date vaccinations are required, and owners must supervise their pets. Visit from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays or 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Fido will love you for it.

As the Colorado Rapids made their run to capture the 2010 MLS crown, Pablo Mastroeni was the steadying, veteran force at the midfield position. He earned his third team MVP award and, at 34, tied his career high for games played at 29. He also played every minute of every playoff game, scored the game winner vs. Columbus in the semi-finals and became the franchise leader in career games played, games started and minutes last year. Sounds like he accomplished some goals.

Despite its record, the Colorado Mammoth regularly boasts the best attendance of any team in the National Lacrosse League. Could be the cheap ticket prices, and it could be the popularity of lacrosse in Colorado. Or it could be the team's dance squad, the Wild Bunch, and the fact that some of these lovely ladies spend every game steaming in a hot tub just off the field with a few lucky fans. Of all the gimmicks you'll find at a Mammoth game (and there are plenty), it's hard to beat the unabashed hormone-baiting of this one.

Conceived and funded in a time when Denver did not stare at cavernous debt, the freshly opened Stapleton rec center is as shiny and opulent as the brownstones across the street from it. By far the largest center in the system, Central Park offers a kid-friendly pool replete with lazy river and water slide; a tech-laden cardio room overlooking the park; a spacious, thorough weight room; and a slew of comparable trappings. Among them are a daycare center, a lounge area, a giant LED chandelier and a bench that knows where you're sitting and displays speech bubbles above your head.

CarGo took off in the second half of the 2010 season and made a run at the triple crown. He settled for a batting title, leading the league in hits, a third-place finish in NL MVP voting and the Players Choice Award for best player in the league. He did this while playing through a wrist injury that stole his power over the final month of the season. Then, in the off-season, Gonzales capped it all off by signing a seven-year, $80 million extension before he hit free-agency. While his yearly salary will escalate over the life of the contract, the Rox will pay $1 million and $5 million, respectively, over the next two seasons for what appears to be a top-five player in the league.

These women are officially the most badass skaters in the land. In November, the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls beat reigning champs the Oly Rollers of Washington to win the roller-derby world championship and bring the trophy — a silver skate mounted on an artful piece of twisted metal — to the Mile High City. This year, they'll fight to keep it here when the 2011 world championship is hosted in Colorado. But winning isn't all they do; the Rollergirls also give back. In the past year, they helped start a junior derby league, the Rocky Mountain Rollerpunks, and shepherded a resolution through the state legislature, recognizing how the sport of roller derby empowers women.

MVP honors went to jammer Portia "Frida Beater" Hensley when the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls skated their way to the world championship. Beater beat her way past the Oly Rollers for a total of 51 points in the bout, including the last-second score that sealed the deal in a nail-biting finish. But the five-year roller derby vet gets high marks for her nickname, too, a twisted take on a children's classic that should keep other skaters on their toes.

Gabrielle Begeman isn't as Fonda Payne as she is of dishing it out, and the 2011 co-captain of the 2011 Mile High Club — the Roller Dolls' premier team — is also its top skater. In fact, Denver native Begeman, a jammer since 2008, was voted most valuable league member, most valuable skater and MVP of her team last year. Wanna feel the Payne? Head to 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, where the Dolls roll.

As if the Rocky Mountain Super Pass (Copper Mountain, Winter Park, six days at Steamboat Springs) weren't already one of the best season-pass deals in the U.S., Copper Mountain upped the ante this season with its $99 Snow Day Pass. For less than the price of a lift ticket at some other nearby resorts, Snow Day pass-holders got unlimited access to the mountain on any day Copper reported at least four inches of new snow. That turned out to be at least thirty days this year — one of the snowiest seasons on record — in case you were wondering why some of your colleagues have been taking so many "sick" days lately.

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