Best New Brewpub 2021 | Spice Trade Brewery & Kitchen | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Courtesy of Spice Trade Brewery

Spice Trade Brewery has unusual roots: It was born inside Arvada's Yak & Yeti Restaurant, brewing beers made with herbs and spices to complement the Indian and Nepalese food. So it made sense that when the brewery opened its own distinct location in May 2020, it would push these flavors even further. The new Spice Trade, set in an airy corner spot and bursting with color and electricity, offers rotating street food and dishes from around the world, including everything from Thai wings and char siu barbecue to Moroccan tagine and butter chicken arancini. Pair them with beers like Tamarind Belgian Dubbel, Sichuan Saison and Chai Milk Stout, and you have a party in your mouth.

Factotum Brewhouse

After a one-year hiatus, Factotum Brewhouse has resurrected its Grill and Swill program, wherein you bring your own steaks, burgers, dogs or veggies and fire 'em up on one of the brewery's propane grills (which come complete with utensils). Don't want to tote your own plates or condiments? Factotum will rent you some — and serve you all the beer you need for a proper backyard patio hang. "It's just like going to the park," the brewery says, "except the beer is fresher, the picnic tables are sturdier and the bathrooms are fancier."

Danielle Lirette

Ratio Beerworks suffered during the pandemic, but that suffering only seems to have made the hip RiNo staple even stronger. Built on a simple but well-crafted slate of solid beer choices (some with a twist), Ratio also has a unique style aesthetic, a killer patio, and an eye-opening arts and music-driven vibe. The brewery now regularly cans its beer, helping it find a larger audience, while a city street closure gave it a larger outdoor space. In 2021, Ratio has added a new and highly respected head brewer, and it will soon open a second location in south Denver — moves that will only elevate this already high-flying fun factory.

New Image Brewing

New Image Brewing releases beers at a frenetic pace — and with blasts of creativity. One week it's an impossibly rich, dessert-like stout, and the next it's an unfathomably complex take on a hazy IPA or a fruit-laden tart beer. Over the past two years, as the brewery added a production facility nearby, it took its beers to another level — not just in quality, consistency and palate-pleasing flavors, but with endless experimentation into process, ingredients and technique. And that means anything could be in store for the rest of 2021.

Courtesy of Raíces Brewing

We have yet to meet anyone who hasn't had a good time at Raíces Brewing. That's because there's almost always something special happening here, either inside or on the patio, which provides views of the South Platte River, Mile High Stadium and an industrial neighborhood turning industrial-chic. Sometimes it's Latin dancing or live music; at other times it's a community or political forum, acting classes, an art show or a soccer party. And then there are the food trucks, featuring cuisine from all over Latin America. But Raíces — one of Colorado's only Latino-owned breweries — is also beautiful, boasting high-arched ceilings, massive windows with sweeping views, murals, a stage and an elegant, tree-themed light fixture that can change colors depending on what flag or idea it is honoring. Oh, and the beer is lovely as well.

Michael Emery Hecker

Ground-bound patios don't really stand a chance when it comes to competing with their lofty rooftop counterparts — something the owners of Joyride Brewing knew when they first opened in 2014 and made plans to build a big deck on the roof. That dream became reality in 2019: The rooftop patio boasts not only its own bar with sixteen taps and room for 150 people, but stunning views that take in Denver's skyline to the east, busy Sloan's Lake Park just across the street, and Pikes Peak to the south (on a clear day). Get up there and have a beer!

Danielle Lirette

TRVE Brewing has such a long, skinny space — it's just eighteen feet across — that it didn't make sense to seat people indoors for most of 2020. And the brewery has, or had, no patio seating whatsoever. But as 2021 rolled around, TRVE took over the back-alley parking lot of a neighboring business and installed the Dumpster Garden, a weekend-only pop-up outdoor beer garden featuring its cans and bottles. It was the most perfectly named, perfectly themed outdoor drinking spot for a dumpster fire of a year.

Westbound & Down Brewing Company Facebook

As winter approached during the pandemic, breweries rushed to install tents, domes, greenhouses or other enclosures that would allow them to seat people indoors — while outdoors — and still comply with social distancing rules. Westbound & Down Brewing took it to a whole other level, however, building a set of massive but elegant wooden barrels that came complete with heaters, Bluetooth speakers and room for six to sit and enjoy beer, fondue or other dishes from the brewpub. The Barrel Experience, as it was called, was a hit, and could live on at Westbound's second location, now under construction in Lafayette.

Tennyson Street has changed a lot in the past five years — for better and for worse. One of the better changes has been the growth of a quality craft-beer scene that was bolstered in 2019 by two new breweries — FlyteCo Brewing and the Empourium Brewing — bringing the total to five between 38th and 46th avenues. Your best bet for a crawl? Start at FlyteCo, on 38th, and head north to the Empourium, the Grateful Gnome, De Steeg and Call to Arms. All have in-house or nearby food options, and among the five, you can find just about any style of lager or ale.

Jonathan Shikes

Oh, did you think we meant a flight of beers? No, we meant a flight, like in an airplane. Since opening in 2019, FlyteCo Brewing's aviation theme has really taken off — and includes not just a salvaged plane wing at the entrance, runway striping on the floor and other aeronautical details, but a custom-built replica of the fuselage of a plane. Inside are jump seats, tables and plane windows where beer drinkers can gaze out at other customers. But you can order that flight of beers, too — in a carrier shaped like an airplane, of course.

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