Medical marijuana dispensary review: The Golden Goat in Denver

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This dispensary has closed.

After weeks of waiting and building social-media buzz, the Golden Goat has finally reopened in the space formerly occupied by Green Door Wellness -- which always looked like a nest of old Deadheads had taken over an abandoned East Colfax building near a grow store and started selling weed out of it. We stopped in this week for the grand opening to check out the improvements and finally get our hands on some of the Goat's already acclaimed herb.

The Golden Goat

7801 East Colfax Ave. Denver, CO 80200 303-219-4628 www.goldengoatdenver.com

Hours of operations: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Other types of meds: Edibles, hash, BHO shatter, seeds. Online Menu: Yes. (Prices shown are for non-members.) Raw marijuana price range: $8-$15/gram, $30-$50/eighth, $200-$360/ounce. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

The biggest component to the shop's transformation is in its grow rooms, now headed by a relatively well-known grower who goes by the name Tierra Rojo. You can read more about him in this High Times profile, but in short, the guy is known for putting up some amazing genetics and growing them out to their utmost potential. The Goat is also home to his seed line, New House Seeds, which produced the Red Headed Stranger, the second-place winner at the last Denver High Times Medical Cannabis Cup. My budtender told me that seed packs sell for $45 for non-members, although I couldn't reach anyone at the shop after my visit to confirm how many were in each one.

The outside of the center doesn't look much different than it did, but gone are the massive tie-dye tapestries which had hung in the Colfax-side windows -- a huge improvement, in my mind. As you would expect on a grand-opening week, the staffers were in a good mood and very welcoming when I stopped in. A smiling secretary took my paperwork through the safety-glass window in the secured entryway and had me fill out a single page of paperwork before buzzing me back through a locked door to the main area.

The building has been closed for the last few weeks, with construction crews working to revamp the space, from updating the grow facilities to a completely renovated patient waiting area and bud bar. Well, almost completely renovated. The shop is currently in construction limbo; half-finished walls are more the norm than not, and the newly laid tiles have a nice coating of drywall dust on them. But the shop has enough completed to get by for now and still serve patients.

There's no art on the walls yet to give the place any atmosphere, but the black-wood-and-glass cabinets that make up the bud bar, mixed with the stark-white walls and gray tiles, give the space a simple, understated coolness anyway.

The Golden Goat has set up two stations at the bar to serve patients, so I didn't have to wait on the woman ahead of me to finish up her purchase. Instead, budtender Joe saddled right up to the bar, gave me a welcoming speech and then got down to business, pulling out his top picks from the sativa side. Bud is kept in one cabinet, with different quality levels designated by one of three shelf locations. Edibles -- mostly candy bars and other sweets from Edi-Pure, Dr. J's and Healthy Creations -- were in another cabinet. The concentrate selection was slimmer than I expected, though. The center had blended bubble hash, kief and leftover BHO shatter from before the shop's conversion.

Herb is broken down into four price and quality ranges, from the bottom-tier discount strains selling for $30 an eighth for non-members all the way up to $45 for the two or three rare, top-shelf strains on deck. Members get all herb knocked down a price rung and are capped at $40 an eighth.

The $30 lower shelf was full of some quality buds worth checking out, including a solid Ghost OG that was really only lacking in the smell department, a crystal-coated Willy and a chunky strain dubbed Rocky Ford. I didn't get a closer look at the latter, but I'm going to assume it's a Cantaloupe-like cut based on the name alone.

As I expected, nearly all of the fifteen or so strains on the middle and top shelves were drool-worthy. The selection is also very well balanced, with heavy sativas, hybrids and indicas all well represented in the display cases.

We started out with a funky-named cut, Pootie Tang, that the budtender said was his favorite, adding that he had been waiting on it for the last two weeks. I can see why, thanks to its instantly attractive, fully developed flowers, sugar-coating of amber trichomes and beautiful dark greens and purple coloring. Up next was the jar of Indiana Bubblegum that was easily the best-smelling example of Bubblegum I've come across. The heavy fruit undertones mixed to create a nearly perfect match of old-school pink Big League Chew gum. On the heavy indica end of the cabinet (the left side, for those of you wondering), I was impressed by both the Couch Lock and the Pure Kush, which my budtender assured me would put anyone to sleep within fifteen minutes of smoking them at bedtime. Also worth noting were the 50/50 hybrid P-Funk buds, a peppery and earthy Jedi Kush and a very white White OG. (For great recent photos from the garden, check out the Golden Goat's Facebook page).

Joe was a great budtender and was able to talk a lot about the strains -- including their genetic history and the medicinal effects they were likely to have -- without getting too pot-nerdish or technical. I ended up sticking around the $40 strains mostly out of preference for the genetics being offered than anything else. Some of the $35 strains could have easily been top-shelf as well. Member pricing gets you about $5 off on the per-eighth price all the way up to ounces, which run for $200 for bottom shelf, and the mid-$200s for the mid- and top shelves. A little on the spendy side, but nothing too outrageous.

Until you get to their elite strains, that is.

Golden Goat sets aside a few highest-quality strains each harvest, and they've got equally higher pricing to match: Non-member cost is $15 a gram, $45 an eighth and $360 an ounce. Granted, the center only had three strains at that level when I was in and a lot more to offer at reasonable prices. But, holy balls, is that high. I wouldn't have ever paid that back in my days of black-market dealings, let alone now, with prices as low as they are from private caregivers and other dispensaries.

I understand appealing to a connoisseur market with unique and one-of-a-kind genetics from Tierra Rojo himself. I have no doubt that some people will pay that. And, yes, I have to say that the funky Hanis, earthy Royal Kush and hazy Highway Man were phenomenal strains, and I really wanted to take them home -- just not at that price. True, with member pricing as a first-time customer, I could have brought them home at the $40 price tier -- but times are tough, and I just couldn't bring myself to drop that much more coin.

That said, this is a shop worth considering as one to sign up for your primary center (if you don't already have a private caregiver doing it for you). Doing so gets most everything down to more reasonable prices for what is otherwise excellent medical cannabis.

Continue reading to see what William Breathes did take home this week. Sour Diesel x Deep Chunk: $40 Though it might look leafy, I assure you that the calyxes beneath the airy, sativa-thin sugar leaves were dense, dripping with scented natural oils and coated in crystals. Broken up, it left a crayon-like waxiness on my fingertips. It wasn't as pronounced right out of the bag, but after it was broken up, the smell was something between the tart, rubberiness of a Sour Diesel and a skunky, almost chocolate finish. Full body to the taste as well, and the piney flavors lingered well after I'dcashed out my bowl or finished up my vape. Overall, the buds I took home were great examples of this strain and certainly worth the member pricing at $35. Pootie Tang: $40 I have no clue as to what relation this strain has to the near-cult classic Louis C.K. and Chris Rock flick for which it is named. But sada tay, my damies, this was one fantastic strain I couldn't say da nayno to. With a fat, round bud structure like an OG, I expected more kushiness from the smell and flavor. Instead, it had an intensely dark berry musk to it when ground down that came out very strong in the first two or three hits. Much more of a sativa lean to this as well, and I was instantly charged up after a bowl, like I had just sucked down a Red Bull. The buzz lasted for a good hour and a half before fading out with little to no crash afterward. Great for appetite as well, almost forcing me to feed the growing cavern in my stomach on a constant basis when smoked in the morning. Wada ta. Blended bubble hash (73 micron): $30/gram As I mentioned in the review above, Golden Goat was surprisingly low on concentrates. But what the shop did have in stock was this crumbly, tan-mixed hash from a 73 micron bag that smelled like household pine cleaner (in a good way) when opened. Consistency was great, and the quartz sand-like particles borderline melted into the top of a bowl before sizzling and burning off to a white ash. Nothing distinct as far as taste, but the plumes were thick and added a nice spice to whatever I was smoking it with. Only gripe was with the $30 per gram price. It's good, for sure, and I hope Golden Goat starts doing strain-specific hash of this quality using trim from its new garden. But as of now, it's more like $20/gram good.

Read more dispensary reviews from William Breathes in our marijuana blog, Mile Highs and Lows. Keep up with all your Colorado news -- cannabis or otherwise -- over at The Latest Word.

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