Best Brewery Taproom Atmosphere 2022 | Wah Gwaan Brewing | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

As a kid, one of the most comforting things to do in the middle of a Denver snowstorm was to take a field trip to the warm and steamy insides of the Denver Zoo's Tropical Discovery and pretend you were on vacation. Although there's no (literal) steam at Wah Gwaan Brewing, the new taproom gives adults that same feeling with its Jamaican inspiration, reggae tunes, vibrant murals and beers made with tropical ingredients like durian, mango, pomegranate and coconut. Plus, there are tie-dye pop-ups, First Friday nights and the occasional spontaneous dance party, not to mention food trucks featuring dishes from Haiti, Ethiopia, Kenya and other less common cuisines. What's going on? Wah Gwaan is going on.

Sarah Cowell
Cohesion's dark lager poured in the mlíko way.

It's rare for a brewery to come along these days and offer something totally different, but that's what Cohesion did when it opened last August. The elegantly decorated brewery focuses almost exclusively on Czech-inspired lagers — not just in name and style, but in every detail of Czech brewing and beer culture. Examples include Cohesion's custom-roasted grains and water filtration system, along with its side-pouring faucets and water-bathed mugs that make an impression on customers. But the best part is the way the beer is poured in different sizes and in three different foam options: hladinka, snyt and mlíko (a nearly full glass of sweet, creamy head that feels almost like drinking a latte). Make Cohesion your new foamy home on the range.

Molly Martin

Perhaps no brewery was hit harder by the pandemic than Bierstadt Lagerhaus, a large, two-level space that relied almost exclusively on people showing up to eat, drink lagers and have a good time. But Bierstadt fought back, adding cans, creating a patio and inventing food-prep kits to go, all the while continuing to brew its world-renowned beers. Today the brewpub, with its party games downstairs and retro-funky elegance upstairs, is even better than before, having built new garage doors and continuing to host fun events. While you can now get its beers, from standards to seasonals, in liquor stores, you don't want to miss a night here. Bierstadt has become one of the hubs of craft beer culture, and Denver wouldn't be the same without it.

A properly made Old Fashioned is a thing of boozy beauty. Smooth and strong, it's a classic cocktail that's made a huge comeback, and while many places in Denver do them well, none is quite as dependable as the iteration at American Bonded. Made with your choice of bourbon or rye, it's available anytime but is just $6 during happy hour, which runs 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and all day on Sunday. Bonus: the rooftop patio and eats from T.S.R. (This Shit Rules), which serves out of the bar's kitchen.

Lucy Beaugard

Founded in Austin, the Denver location of Uchi debuted in 2018 and quickly became a hotspot for sushi lovers. While dinner here is a sublime experience, guided with gentle expertise by the stellar staff, it can get pricey, fast. Enter happy hour, which is available from 4 to 6:30 p.m. daily. A staggering eighteen dishes are available at a discounted price; they range from nigiri and temaki (hand rolls) to hot bites like scallion pancakes and a wagyu meatball. There's even a dessert option so that you can truly make a whole meal of the experience, as well as boozy deals on select cocktails, sake, beer and wine.

Sarah McGill

Popular with both Regis University students and longtime Regis neighborhood residents, Rocky Top Tavern is a prime place to eat and drink on a budget without sacrificing taste or environment. Inside the bar there's a pool table and plenty of high-tops, while the recently expanded patio has an area with picnic tables that overflows with neighborhood dogs during warm weather. The tavern offers $4 well drinks all day, every day, and a rotation of daily specials that can't be beat. Highlights include $4 smothered breakfast burritos and $3 mimosas on Sundays, and Wednesday wing nights, when patrons can get twenty wings for $15.

Not every tiki bar is created equal, and the bright, beautiful and classy design of Jungle makes it a tropical paradise. Thanks to beverage director Jake Novotny, so do the drinks, many of which come in whimsical tiki glasses. For example, Sea Stories, with bourbon, Batavia Arrack, carrot, yuzu, coconut and soda, is served in a colorful octopus mug. A cactus-shaped cup is filled with Tijuana Slowdance, a mixture of mezcal, Oaxacan rum, kiwi, orange, lime and honeydew. But don't stop at admiring the pairing of your drink and glass: These cocktails also work well with burgers, fish tacos, plantain fritters, fries and jerk fried chicken.
Molly Martin

Broadway got a boost when the Roxy took over the former Syntax Physic Opera space in August 2019, but just six months later, the pandemic silenced the stage at the vintage-cool venue. Although the shutdown nearly forced the place to shutter, owner Paula Vrakas took the time to renovate the kitchen and staff lounge. And now the Roxy is back full force, pouring 1920s-inspired cocktails served alongside a menu that's as eclectic as the nightly live entertainment, which ranges from open-mic nights and comedy to acoustic sets, rock, blues and jazz.

Molly Martin

While the Sportsbook also has locations in the Tech Center and Highlands Ranch, it's the basement-like Washington Park outpost that we love, for its secret clubhouse feel. On game days, fans pack the place, making you feel like you're at a raucous house party that happens to be really well stocked with beer. And if you have a few too many, a stroll through Wash Park is a pleasant way to sober up. The Sportsbook also does breakfast on weekends for early-game sustenance; all-you-can-eat wings and fries on Thursdays for $14.99 (with purchase of a drink); and all-you-can-eat tacos on Tuesdays for $9.99.

Danielle Lirette

Given how successful Premier League club Liverpool has been in recent years — not to mention what Ted Lasso has done for soccer's popularity — it's no wonder the Liverpool FC Denver fan club found a festive outpost for its Saturday game-watching. The club posts up at the Abbey Tavern for all Liverpool games, and the bar gets completely packed. This is definitely the best place to watch a soccer game for Reds fans. Just don't show up wearing blue.

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