Five Colorado Breweries Where You Can Pair Your Beer With Rock and Roll

Beer and music — two human necessities made exponentially more enjoyable when paired together. We certainly don’t need an excuse to extol the virtues of booze and beats, but since this weekend’s Great American Beer Festival is shining a spotlight on brewers across the country, we want to raise a toast to five local brewers that mix up Denver's favorite pastimes all year round. Below are recommendations of breweries with music in their hearts, what to drink when you're there, and what song to pair it with.

1. TRVE Brewing
227 Broadway, Denver

With beer names like Suffering Soul (golden sour), Burning Off Impurities (amber ale), and Possession (saison), TRVE wears its occult influences on its sleeve tattoo. The vibe inside this self-proclaimed heavy-metal brewery is dark and moody, and the music is, unsurprisingly, loud. The South Broadway business notes that it channels the mischievous Norse god Loki when envisioning and brewing its concoctions, which makes perfect sense once you sample a few of TRVE's beers. While TRVE offers plenty of traditional styles, the brewery also churns out a handful of more experimental beers — the Belgians and sours being among the best.

Music/Beer Pairing Recommendation: Black Cascade (black ale) with "Absolution," by Khemmis.

2. Ratio Beerworks
2920 Larimer Street, Denver

Opened in February 2015, Ratio is what happens when three former punk rockers decide to trade in their Behringers for brew kettles. Jason zumBrunnen, Zach Lowery and Scott Kaplan played in different punk outfits before directing their creative energies at brewing (zumBrunnen, for example, was the lead guitarist/vocalist in the Boulder band the Fairlanes), and punk rock’s trademark minimalism managed to wind its way into Ratio’s business model. Since it opened, the brewery has continued to offer a very limited selection of beers, typically consisting of a standard ale, a French saison, a Scotch ale, an IPA, an abbey white, and an extra-pale ale. Ratio is also constantly partnering with other breweries and venues to put on events and live music, and on quieter days, the speakers still play punk, as well as alt-rock and some metal.

Music/Beer Pairing Recommendation: Antidote (IPA) with Strychnine, by the Cramps.

3. Our Mutual Friend
2810 Larimer Street, Denver

When Aurora band Fear Before the March of Flames broke up, bandmember Brandon Proff and his friend Bryan Leavelle did the only logical thing: start a brewing company. A few years later, and Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew boasts GABF award-winning beer and one of Denver’s most beloved hangout spaces, noted for both its brews and its tunes. Boasting an old-school record player and a tight selection of ten to twelve rich, flavorful beers, the RiNo taproom is a cozy, unpretentious, vinyl-spinning watering hole that just wants everyone to get along. 

Music/Beer Pairing Recommendation: Inner Light (wheat pale ale) with Mystic Traveler, by Dave Mason.

4. Black Shirt Brewing
3719 Walnut Street, Denver

Calling itself “Denver’s best music-centric brewery,” Black Shirt Brewing company lets music color its every move. Started in 2009 by brothers Branden and Chad Miller and Chad’s wife Carissa, the brewpub offers carefully crafted brews like Semitone and Stringbender (saisons), Frontman (IPA), and Ocean of Noise (gose). Each batch of beer is organized via a “track number,” (2016-05, for example), and each track is compiled into an “album.” A "Studio" track means the beer is fermented with brewer's yeast in stainless steel, an "Acoustic" track means it's aged in oak barrels, and a "Live" track means the beer is either soured or tinctured.

Music/Beer Pairing Recommendation: Stringbender with Open Fire, by the Darkness.

5. Dead Hippie Brewing 
3701 South Santa Fe Drive, Sheridan

A little outside of town, but worth the twenty-minute drive for the bottomless popcorn alone, Dead Hippie Brewing is a hard-to-find haven of delicious small-batch brews and music-themed madness. Try the Debbie Harry Blonde (blonde ale), Big Ass Bitch (English ale), or My Jenky Eye (IPA). Stay for live shows starring local(ish) acts like singer-songwriter Gii Astorga, hippie punk band Carnie Bums, or old folkie David Booker. Oh, and they have pinball.

Music/Beer Pairing Recommendation: Dead of Summer (braggot) with In the Summertime, by Mungo Jerry.
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