Beer Man

Beer Calendar: Good Times at First Draft Taproom, Ratio Beerworks and River North Brewery

The Boulder-based Brewers Association — the not-for-profit trade group representing craft brewers — said this week that craft beer production volume increased by 8 percent during the first half of the year, a slowdown from previous years. But the volume numbers aren't the best indicator of growth, since the BA no longer counts breweries that don't meet its definition of a "craft brewer," including Ballast Point, Lagunitas and Breckenridge, three major breweries that were bought out last year by larger companies. 

Perhaps a more significant statistic is the number of craft breweries in existence: As of June 30, 2016, there were 4,656 breweries operating in the U.S., an increase of 917 breweries over the same time period of the previous year, according to the BA. And there are another 2,200 breweries in planning. Last year at this time, there were 3,739 operating breweries, up from 3,040 at mid-year 2014.

“The opening rate compared to closing rate for breweries remains incredibly strong, with a historic number of breweries operating in the U.S.,” BA economist Bart Watson said in a statement. “As long as there is growing consumer demand, beer lovers’ thirst will continue to advance the category of craft brewed beer from small and independent producers.”

Here are this week's craft beer events.

Wednesday, July 27
First Draft Taproom & Kitchen will celebrate its first anniversary today through Sunday with a variety of specialty tappings, including the release of a new "house beer" collaboration with Lafayette's Odd13 Brewing, called the Economist. A hazy, hoppy American wheat beer, the Economist was brewed "with a unique sacch strain of yeast that kicks off huge pineapple and tropical fruit characteristics," First Draft says. "A rich mouthfeel complements the orange and grapefruit peels added, as well as a small Mosaic dry hop. The result is a beer reminiscent of juice from passion fruit, orange and guava." Other beers you will find at some point over the next five days include: The Bruery Tart of Darkness and Beret; Russian River Consecration and Supplication; Bell's Brewery Oberon and Cherry Stout; Crooked Stave Raspberry Origins and Sourless IPA; Port Brewing/Lost Abbey 10 Commandments; Amager Bryghus Chad: King of the Wild Yeasts; Hair of the Dog Binkie Claws; Boneyard Beer Notorious and Hop Venom; Against the Grain Brewery Bo & Luke; Avery Brewing Mephistopholes 2014 and Uncle Jacob's Stout 2015.

The newly opened Banded Oak Brewing is hosting its first guest-bartender night with Shelby Rossi and Abby Anderson of the Scarlet Headers, who will be working the bar and spinning ’90s hits. "There's plenty of parking for motorcycles and cars out front," the brewery says.

Black Shirt Brewing brings back its monthly pie-and-beer pairing event tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. with the Long I Pie Shop. For $20, you get four pie samples and four beer samples. No advance tickets necessary. The menu is: Caprese - Mozzarella, Tomato, Pesto with Frontman IPA v2; Spicy Peach - Peach, Blackberry, Jalapeno with Hibiscus & Elderflower Saison; Apricot crumble with Stringbender (American Red Saison); and Coconut Chess with Black Beacon Sound (Imperial Red Rye Stout on Nitro).

Fiction Beer Company will release bottles of its Heart of Hearts Belgian Tripel with Dragonfruit today at the brewery. The beer will also hit liquor stores soon. 

Thursday, July 28
Ursula Brewing in Aurora, which was called Coda Brewing before a difficult split between its owner and head brewer, will release a passion fruit kolsch today. The previous version of this beer, brewed by Luke Smith, won a medal at the Great American Beer Festival. The new version, which Ursula says is a new recipe, will be called Renata and it will be on draft and available in bottles for purchase. 

Friday, July 29
New Image Brewing in Arvada is getting its new brewhouse today, along with an extra twenty-barrel fermenter and is throwing a party at noon to celebrate. "Many of you have probably seen a brewery before, but have you ever watched one get installed?" New Image asks. "Come watch as we construct our brewhouse, enjoy live music and a special happy hour."

Dry Dock Brewing will host its weekly Firkin Friday at its original location in Aurora by tapping a cask of a pilsner with rose hips and hibiscus at 3 p.m.
Saturday, July 30
"Take a bone-dry Belgian imperial stout, aged it in rye whiskey barrels for more than a year, then infuse it with more than three pounds per barrel of local coffee...that's B-Side Avarice," says River North Brewery, which will release the beer today at noon. A collaboration with Mr. B's Wine & Spirits and Logan House Coffee, the "dark, boozy and caffeinated" beer is very limited: River North will only sell 168 bottles of B-Side Avarice today (it will also be on tap). Correction: The beer is no longer for sale at Mr. B's.

First Draft Taproom & Kitchen will continue its first anniversary today and tomorrow with a variety of specialty tappings, including the release of a new "house beer" collaboration with Lafayette's Odd13 Brewing, called the Economist, a hazy, hoppy American wheat beer. Also for today and tomorrow, they will be boiling crawfish on the patio from noon to 5 p.m., with corn, andouille sausage and red potatoes. There will also be live zydeco music.

TRVE Brewing will release Currant Mouth today, a golden mixed-culture beer aged on black currants "at a rate of over a pound of fruit per gallon of beer," the brewery says, adding, "there is no more appropriate a color for a death metal beer than bright pink."

Who's the best brewer at Mockery Brewing? You can help decide when the brewery holds its employee brew-off, called Mock the Vote. "Each Mockery crew member has brewed a small-batch beer; [the] winner is brewed on the big system. Flights including each beer will be available and you decide," Mockery says.

Station 26 Brewing brings back Libations & Provisions today from 1 to 5 p.m. The brewery farmers' market features sunshine, beer and local merchants. Find the list at Station 26's Facebook page.

Sunday, July 31
Ratio Beerworks and Church of Cupcakes will host a cupcake pairing today from 2 to 5 p.m. Enjoy pairings of lavender honey-lemon cupcakes with Dear You French Saison, or fleur-de-sel caramel-chocolate cupcakes paired with the robust chocolate flavors of Hold Steady Scotch Ale. Fifteen bucks gets you a flight of three cupcakes and three tasters of Ratio beers.

Fiction Beer Company, which names its beers after characters from novels and has a bar made out of books, will host a Harry Potter read-in today starting at 1 p.m. in honor of a new Harry Potter story that was released this weekend. "Bring your copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, grab a seat, grab a beer, and immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter. Beer specials all day. Fun giveaways," Fiction says.

Bacon Social House will welcome in Ratio Beerworks from 5 to 7 p.m. today for the first in a series of bacon-and-beer pairings. "Enjoy a five-course menu paired with five equally tantalizing Ratio beers," they say. "Chef Brian Crow has crafted a beautifully paired menu and will be joining Hunter Grondin [from Ratio] to guide attendees through each course." For limited tickets and other info, go to the event page.

Wednesday, August 3
Tickets for the 35th annual Great American Beer Festival, which takes place October 6-8 in Denver, go on sale to the general public today at 10 a.m. (Tickets went on sale for members of the Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association yesterday). They will sell out in seconds.

Thursday, August 4
Jake's Brew Bar in Littleton welcomes California's Firestone Walker Brewing into the house today at 5 p.m., when they'll be "tapping a few gems, some variants and old favorites, and some new twists on some traditional styles." The list includes: 2016 Stickee Monkee, STiVo (a collaboration with Russian River), Nitro DBA, Unfiltered DBA and more.

Friday, August 5
The 4th Annual Women of Colorado Craft Breweries Pinup Calendar, featuring the ladies of craft beer, takes place at Left Hand Brewing in Longmont today from 5 to 8 p.m. And in addition to the calendar, there will be a vintage car show in the parking lot, a pinup contest, swing lessons and a performance by Jim Jamm Jimmy. Calendars will be sold in the tap room, and the pinups will be signing their months. The 2017 calendar features thirteen Colorado craft breweries and a coupon page.

Saturday, August 6
The Bull & Bush Brewery kicks off a four-concert series today in honor of its 45th anniversary (as a restaurant and bar). Each Saturday this month, the brewery will feature a different band in concert. In addition to the concerts, the Bull & Bush will has been releasing tribute beers for each band. Each limited-edition bottle will include a special music sampler download. Today's concert is from the Samples. The tribute beer is Nature Saison, a saison brewed with all Colorado ingredients.

Sesh Fest returns to Denver — at the Highlands Masonic Events Center — today from 2 to 6 p.m., featuring "dozens of breweries paying homage to session-style beers." There will also be food, lawn games and music. Session beers are typically below 5 percent ABV and are usually lighter. Get tix at

Avery Brewing will celebrate its 23rd anniversary with a party from 3 to 8 p.m. today that celebrates where they have come from and the people who have helped them to get where they are. To do that, brewery founder "Adam Avery is digging deep into his cellar for vintage beers to pour, including multi-year verticals of favorites like Uncle Jacob’s Stout, Rumpkin, Tweak, The Reverend, The Beast, Samael’s, and Mephistopheles’ Stout," Avery says. They are also "unearthing bottles of one-and- done beers from their Barrel-Aged Series, including experimental brews like Fortuna, a margarita-inspired sour ale with lime zest and salt aged in tequila barrels; Black Eye, an 18.82 percent ABV stout aged in rum barrels; and Spontanea, a spontaneously fermented wild ale brewed with grape must and aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels." There will also be live music from the North Mississippi Allstars and a children's area with a bouncy area (no drunken adults allowed). Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Growe Foundation, which educates children about the benefits of healthy eating and environmental stewardship. General admission tickets are $20, which includes a custom glass and access to the selection of rare and vintage beers. After that, $5 drink tokens get you a twelve-ounce pour of beers under 8 percent ABV or an eight-ounce pour of beers 8 to 12 percent ABV or a four-ounce pour of barrel-aged beers and beers over 12 percent. VIP tix are $60 and get you all of the above plus nine beers and food. Find tickets at eventbrite.

Ursula Brewery has made a beer just for the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra, and it will tap the brew, Offbeat Saison, today at 5:30 p.m. Stop by the Aurora brewery for a sneak peek at the 2016-17 season with music director Lawrence Golan, and be there for the tapping of the beer. General-admission ticket includes a 22-ounce bottle of Offbeat Saison.

Elk Mountain Brewing in Parker will celebrate its sixth anniversary today with raffles, patio games (Bag Toss, Washer Toss, Beer Pong and Tic Tac Toe) and a barbecue sauce-and-beer pairing with Stephen Snyman from S&K Banh Mi. Snyman created six different sauces with Elk Mountain beer, and they will be paired with smoked and grilled meats and a selection of sides. There will also be several special release beers, including Six Hop IPA, Kodiak Irish Red, Drunken Buck Whiskey Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, Vanilla Caramel Porter, Uncle Willy's Tropical Saison and Imperical Cherry Stout.

Friday, August 12
The new Tivoli Brewing will celebrate its one-year anniversary of being located inside the original Tivoli building on the Auraria campus. Join them today, starting at 5 p.m. 

Saturday, August 13
Years in the making, the lagers of Bierstadt Lagerhaus are finally ready to pour. The brewery opens today in the Bindery on Blake building, which also houses Rackhouse Pub and C Squared Ciders. Buy tickets online or at the Rackhouse for $5, which includes a beer and entry into a drawing for lots of awesome prizes.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes