Nothing gives visitors a more refreshing taste of Denver than the city's breweries. After all, many of those travelers fly here just to sample craft beers from what has become one of the state's marquee industries.
Colorado beer options at Denver International Airport have been a bit limited, however. There is an outlet of Boulder Beer Company next to the security gates; a ChopHouse Denver (a downtown brewery owned by the Rock Bottom Restaurants and Brewery chain); and a New Belgium taproom, which is hidden so far down the B concourse that one could argue it's closer to DIA's secret underground city than to most passengers. Until recently, there was also a Rock Bottom in Concourse C, but it closed last spring.
But that is all changing.
On Monday, Tom's Urban Restaurant and Brewery opened for business inside the Westin hotel that is attached to DIA's Jeppesen terminal. Operated as a joint venture of the owners of the Tom's chain, Denver's Tivoli Brewing and Midfield Concessions, it includes an actual brewhouse where beer will be made; it is also one of only two breweries in the country located on airport property (the other is in Tampa, Florida).
And while Tom's is the splashiest place to grab a pint at the airport, it is just the beginning of a beer-and-brewery overhaul taking place over the next year or so.
"We are focused on providing passengers with a truly Colorado experience," says DIA spokeswoman Emily Williams. "Colorado is a leader in the craft-brew industry, and the industry is vital to the region. How better to welcome visitors to Denver and show off our excellent, local craft breweries than to offer them in the airport?"
Here's a rundown of what else is going on:
Great Divide Brewing, one of the oldest, largest and most respected breweries in the Mile High City, and its concessions partner, HMS Host, plan to open a restaurant and taproom called Great Divide Brewhouse and Kitchen. Located in the former Rock Bottom space in Concourse C, it will pour beer from eighteen Great Divide taps, including some of the brewery’s core brands, along with seasonals, specialty beers and one-offs. The restaurant portion of the pub will serve what the company is describing as elevated comfort food and gastropub fare.
The Post Brewing Co., which already has outlets in Lafayette, Boulder, Longmont and Denver, will open a fried chicken and craft beer joint inside the new Great Hall next summer, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. Big Red F, the Post's Boulder-based parent company, will also build a Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar inside the airport as part of a contract awarded by Great Hall Partners, the private developer that is handling the $1.8 billion renovation of the airport's Great Hall, which will continue over the next two years.
New Belgium Brewing will replace the Colorado Sports Bar & Grill in Concourse B with its own sports-bar-themed taproom and restaurant. The current New Belgium Hub "will eventually close, but for a time after the new location opens in 2019, New Belgium will have two locations at the airport," Williams says.
Breckenridge Brewery is close to opening in a new expansion at the east end of Concourse A, where there will also be a Brothers BBQ and a Snarf’s. Breckenridge Brewery was purchased by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2015.
And finally, the existing Boulder Beer and ChopHouse locations will remain open.
Oh, and although these breweries aren't currently allowed to sell packaged beer at DIA so that people can tote liquid presents in their luggage, Williams says to "stay tuned, because this is something we are exploring."