Pizza and beer are an iconic duo in the culinary world. The two not only pair well together, but also inherently enhance the other. “They’re two things that have a bit of nostalgia and happiness and comfort,” says Drew Watson, who co-owns Hops & Pie
, at 3920 Tennyson Street, with his wife, Leah.
The Watsons are originally from the Northeast, where, as Drew puts it, pizza is life. Growing up, he recalls, there was a pizza shop every couple of blocks, so when the two opened their beer-centric business in 2010, scratch-made pizza was the ideal co-star.
Hops & Pie has 22 rotating taps plus bottles and cans and offers traditional, pan, Detroit-style, whole wheat and gluten-free crust options for its pies. Toppings range from the traditional, like green bell peppers, mushrooms and Italian sausage, to housemade chorizo, mashed potatoes and hickory-smoked pulled pork. It also has a plethora of vegan alternatives, including housemade vegan Sicilian sausage, dairy-free cheese, plant-based pepperoni and house-smoked tofu.
Watson’s go-to pairing is a slice of pepperoni pizza with a West-Coast IPA, because the spiciness of the pepperoni is balanced by the hops and crispness of the beer. “It’s like a melody,” he says.
With a bolder stout, he suggests a pie that will be on the winter menu: beer-braised short ribs and a rich cheese, such as Muenster or provolone, with a touch of baby arugula or watercress added to balance it out. And for a simple slice of cheese, Watson is partial to a pilsner, like Westbound and Down’s Italian Pilsner.
Because they're such a good pair, many breweries opt to make pizza a highlight on the food menu. Here are our picks for the best brewery and pizza combos:
Black Shirt Brewing Co.
Black Shirt Brewing Co. / Instagram
3719 Walnut Street
This brewery added a pizza kitchen in 2017, and in January, it was taken over by new owners
Jimmy and Karen Dodson. They've largely kept operations the same, including continuing to serve pizza made with dough that uses the spent grain from the brewing process. Black Shirt has over twenty topping options, including cotija cheese, red peppers, green chiles, roasted chicken and cream cheese. In addition to traditional marinara sauce, you can also choose from a base of buffalo sauce, pineapple jalapeño teriyaki, barbecue sauce and garlic olive oil. Create your own, or opt for a specialty pizza like the Live in Pompeii, with a blend of house red sauce and Greek vinaigrette topped with sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, feta, artichokes, black olives, red onion, prosciutto, garlic and basil.
Odell Brewing Sloan's Lake Brewhouse
Odell Brewing / Instagram
1625 Perry Street
Our pick for 2022's Best New Brewery Patio
, this Odell location opened in April 2021 and boasts a large rooftop patio with great views. It also serves year-round, seasonal and limited specialty pies which are also available with gluten-free dough or vegan cheese. Top pizzas with unique ingredients such as truffle oil, bison, goat cheese and smoked Gouda. For a spicy option, opt for the You’ve Been Warned, with fiery orange habanero salami, sliced jalapeños and ghost chili oil.
Black Sky Brewery
Black Sky Brewery / Instagram
490 Santa Fe Drive
This heavy-metal brewery also serves up creative pizzas with lots of options. Toppings include meatballs, roast beef, blue cheese, banana pepper, tomato and pineapple. It also offers the option to sub vegan cheese, and has a list of other vegan-friendly items, including a version of its Corpse Paint pie with white sauce, garlic, tomato and Italian spices. If you're a cheese lover, though, try the Jalapeño Popper Pizza loaded with bacon plus cream cheese, cheddar and mozzarella.
10 Barrel Brewing
10 Barrel Brewing Denver / Instagram
2620 Walnut Street
Originally founded in Bend, Oregon, in 2006, 10 Barrel was purchased by Anheuser-Busch Inbev in 2013. Its Denver outpost debuted in RiNo in 2016 and includes a kitchen that serves pub fare, with a lineup of 15-inch pies (which are also available on a 10-inch gluten-free crust). Curated pizzas include Mushroom + Truffle, Buffalo Chicken, and the Fig + Pig, topped with capicola, ricotta, fig caramel, shredded mozzarella and arugula.
Lowdown Brewery + Kitchen
The Calcutta pizza and LowDown IPA at LowDown Brewery + Kitchen.
800 Lincoln Street
Since 2014, Lowdown Brewery has served up dishes loaded with organic, local and seasonal ingredients, including pizza. The pies here start with Central Milling 00 flour and Bianco DiNapoli organic tomatoes. Along with traditional toppings, you’ll find options like corned beef brisket, blackened chicken, sautéed broccoli and walnut-basil pesto. One of our favorites in the lineup: the Day Tripper, which starts with brown-butter porcini mushroom paste topped with roasted cremini and oyster mushrooms, caramelized onions, chives, fresh mozzarella and Asiago cheese.
Echo Brewing and Pizzeria
600 Briggs Street, Erie
In 2014, Echo Brewing opened in a former fire station in Erie. The menu is centered on brick-oven pizzas that start with a dough made from 100 percent Italian Caputo flour, water, yeast and salt that rises overnight. (There is also a gluten-free crust available.) Standouts include the Molto with red sauce, mozzarella, fennel sausage, mushrooms, grape tomatoes and onions; as well as the Isola with San Marzano sauce, capicola, mozzarella and pineapple. There’s a dessert pie, too, made with the house dough stuffed with Nutella and topped with powdered sugar.
12 Degree Brewing
12 degree Brewing / Instagram
820 Main Street, Louisville
The Belgium-inspired 12 Degree Brewing debuted in 2013 in a former temperance hall — a place people once went specifically to not drink. Now plenty of beers are served in the space, alongside frites and thin-crust pies in options like spinach and garlic, pesto and margherita. Alongside menu standards like the Humongi Fungi with three types of mushrooms plus white truffle oil and mozzarella, you’ll also find seasonal specials, like the Peacha Pie with fresh Palisade peaches, honey, crème fraîche and mozzarella.
Twisted Pine Brewing / Instagram
Twisted Pine Brewing Company
3201 Walnut Street, Boulder
Twisted Pine has been a Boulder go-to for craft beer since 1995. The menu includes shareable plates and wings along with pizzas that start with a base layer of beer-infused marinara. Beer-braised chicken also makes an appearance on three of the pies (the CBR and both the Buffalo and BBQ Chicken Pizzas). Gluten-free crust is available, too, as is the Vegan Herbivore pie, topped with housemade hummus, spinach, mushrooms, sliced onions and roma tomato.
Big Choice Brewing
Big Choice Pizza / Instagram
21 South 1st Avenue, Brighton
In 2017, the late-’80s/early-’90s music, movies and skateboarding-themed Big Choice Brewing moved from Broomfield to a former Buddhist temple in Brighton. For its pies, it offers two crust options: a thicker Sicilian-style crust in a rectangular shape, or a thin and crispy Neapolitan style, which is also available in a personal size. While it has mostly traditional topping options, such as cherry tomatoes, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and fresh basil, the Crab Cheese Wonton Pizza is a welcome break from the typical red-sauce version, with housemade garlic oil, diced mozzarella, cream cheese, crab, crispy wonton strips, green onion and sweet chili sauce.
Downhill Brewing / Instagram
18921 Plaza Drive, Parker
Skier Jake Minturn and snowboarder Doug Hyndman met following an accidental collision on the slopes. But that incident led to friendship, and in 2017, the two bought Parker's Elk Mountain Brewing and re-branded it as Downhill Brewing. Along with beers like cucumber sour Fresh AF and the hop-heavy Murder Hornet, it offers nine specialty pies plus a pizza of the month and a build-your-own option. Choices range from the Greek Goddess, with a trio of olives, pine nut basil pesto and artichoke hearts, to the Usual Suspects, with red sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, Polidori sausage, green pepper, red onion and black olives.
Frolic Brewing Pizza / Instagram
12910 Zuni Street, Westminster
This veteran-owned and -operated brewpub boats a large, dog-friendly patio. Everything on its menu, from nachos to omelets, is made in its pizza ovens, which also churn out a lineup of 12-inch pies. Alongside cheese, pepperoni and supreme options, you'll find some out-of-the-box selections, like the Frito Pie topped with chili, spinach, cheddar Jack cheese, onions, jalapeños and crumbled Fritos. There are also three dessert pizzas available for a sweet treat: churro, s’more and berry cream.