Arvada Beer Company and Manneken Frites are an ideal pair in the northwest suburbs

Out in the northwest suburbs for family events this holiday season, I was looking for a low-key place to unwind with some out-of-town relatives after all the feasting and present-wrapping concluded. Unwilling to settle for one of the strip-mall chain restaurants that are so prevalent on that side of town, I headed into Olde Town Arvada to explore.

That particular stretch of Olde Wadsworth Boulevard has picked up some good culinary options in the last four years, including the Udi's restaurant, which boasts a massive collection of absinthe, and the Archive Room, which serves up better than average bar-and-grill food alongside a decent-enough beer list and occasional live music. That night, though, I was after one of the newest additions to the neighborhood: the Arvada Beer Company, which opened in October under Kelly Floyd, an award-winning homebrewer.

The space that houses the brewery and tasting room is basic, and the seating area feels more like someone's basement all-purpose room than it does a spot to hang out. But between the $5 pints, the incredibly attentive staff and a massive stock of board games and cards, which give you plenty to do while you nurse a beer or five, the place is like a time machine: You're liable to get sucked into your seat for way longer than you'd think.

It helps, too, that the brewery will allow you to bring in your own food or order from a nearby joint -- and that one of those nearby joints is Manneken Frites, a Belgian fry joint that serves up frites and a long menu of sauces plus Vienna beef hot dogs and Belgian beer. We ordered three different rounds, plunging our thickly cut, salty sticks of potato -- fried until golden and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy within -- into earthy curried ketchup, sweet-spicy barbecue sauce and, my favorite of the three, the wickedly fiery ghost chile ranch dressing. Each round of fries begat more beers; each round of beers begat more fries. And before I knew it, I'd been monopolizing a table for four hours.

Had the place not been closing up for the night, I probably could have easily been there four more.

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