“Is that going to be okay with you?” challenged the barman at Pint's Pub, located at 221 West 13th Avenue. He wasn't so much asking if we would be amenable to drinking their “real ales,” as much as he was curtly warning us that others hadn't been okay with drinking their unpasteurized, unfiltered and warm traditional English-style ales. It didn't much matter to him if we were happy with it. There was no offer of a taste before we ordered our half-pints, and no attempt on his part to make sure we understood what we were ordering. He simply threw out the fact that these beers would be different from anything else we could get in Denver, and then handed us the menu that described the brewing process of “real ales.” If we had any interest in understanding what we were about to drink, we had to read. I'd never before been given homework for ordering booze.
And this is about as close to a tour of the Pint's Pub brewery as you are likely to get. Not that my partner in crime and I specifically asked for one (as we had at Coors and Great Divide). We were too cowed by the barman's general indifference to our presence and, when we volunteered that we are on a mission to tour every brewery on the Front Range, no extra hospitality was offered. Whereas many of our amazing local breweries offer tours that educate the interested about the art of beer-making in general and about that brewery's proudest achievements in particular, Pint's Pub's pride in its brews is a more low-key affair.
But the beers are well worth the trip.
Though the website only advertises six hand-crafted brews on the menu, we're pretty sure Pint's crafts a dozen beers you can't buy outside the walls of this quirky little spot. And our trip was a work lunch, so we're just as sure we weren't seeing double at that point.
While the two “cask conditioned” real ales (Dark Star Ale and Lancer Pale Ale) are treats for Anglophiles yearning for the old sod (the British Isles, not the intimidating barman) and for beer purists, a few of the other brews were a bit more to our taste. The Gael Force Ale, in particular, was dark and smooth, rich and sweet, with a phenomenal chocolate finish that was perfect for washing down the pub's decent British bar fare.
But most people don't know Pint's for its beer. The wood-lined interior may create an atmosphere that approximates a real English pub better than any other establishment in Denver, but the first thing you'll notice on entry is that the bar is backed, over-hung and flanked on every possible side with more single-malt whiskey than you ever dreamed was possible. This is where snooty drunks die from over-indulgence and then return in the afterlife if they've been good. The Pint's website offers that the pub is “proud to be the purveyor of the largest selection of single malt whisky this side of Edinburgh, Scotland,” but the folks who run the place don't brag. If you want to know about anything of interest in the place, you'll have to ignore the traditionally indifferent English-style service, cut through the tepid response to your interest and presence, and ask. And even then, you may just be handed a bill of fare and told to read. -- Sean Cronin