Plastic domes, covered patios, fire pits, greenhouses, huts and tents. And more tents. That's what eating and drinking out is going to look like in Denver for at least the next month, and possibly through the winter.
New rules implemented by the state this week prohibit restaurants, bars and breweries from serving people indoors in counties operating under the Level Red designation (which will include Denver and fourteen other counties as of 5 p.m. today), but continue to allow outdoor seating for establishments that also offer food service. It's a strange rule, considering that many permitted "outdoor" seating areas are basically indoor areas, while some indoor areas are often more spread out and airy. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, structures are considered outdoors if they have at least two opposite sides open (one or no open sides qualifies as indoors, and so must follow the same regulations as an establishment's indoor dining room or bar). Single-group structures like huts and greenhouses with one table are permissible, since they can be disinfected and aired out between uses, although Level Red restrictions only allow individuals from single households to be seated together.
More and more breweries are responding to the situation — which was already dire — by adding a wide variety of outdoor (both enclosed and open-air) drinking areas. Some have been able to invest heavily in creative structures or tents, while others will have to rely on good weather, heat lamps and a willing public to make things work. (Many more, especially those without much outdoor space, have simply reverted back to takeout and/or delivery only.)
Cerebral Brewing, for instance, sacrificed its already scarce parking for two large custom-made tents with ample seating, heat lamps and the sides rolled up to help with ventilation and air flow.
If you choose to partake, dress warmly, be prepared for sudden closures based on weather and have an "après-ski" mentality, as one brewery explained it, complete with down jackets, hats and gloves. Here are examples of expanded seating at breweries around town, some of which may be considered indoors — so call ahead to find out what your options are.
Copper Kettle Brewing1338 South Valentia Street
Copper Kettle took a two-track approach to social distancing last summer, adding more indoor space but also expanding its patio. Now the east Denver brewery has two outdoor seating areas, one inside a tent and one that is a little more exposed to elements, but still with elegant-looking protective fabric on the sides and on top.
Station 26 Brewing7045 East 38th Avenue
Station 26 Brewing invested in its massive tent several years ago as a way to expand the seating in its very small taproom — and it was a fortuitous investment, as the tent has allowed the brewery to seat more customers under 50- and 25-percent capacity restrictions this summer and fall.
Bull & Bush Brewery4700 Cherry Creek Drive South
Bull & Bush tented in a portion of its patio years ago and even outfitted it with TVs. This year, even more of that section is now protected from the elements.
Spice Trade Brewing
8775 East Orchard Road, Greenwood Village
The brand-newSpice Trade Brewing
is already dialed in with thirteen heated igloo domes along with a big tent (heat is coming) in part of its parking lot at the corner of Orchard Road and South Yosemite Street.
Hogshead Brewery4460 West 29th Avenue
Hogshead Brewery has been seating people primarily outdoors all summer and fall, but recently added a pair of heated tents so it can continue serving English-style cask ales into the winter.
Platt Park Brewing1875 South Pearl Street
Platt Park Brewing not only has a temporary patio that extends into Pearl Street — allowed as part of the city's pandemic response — but it just added an open-sided tent that covers the whole thing, complete with heaters.
4 Noses Brewing8855 West 116th Circle, Broomfield
4 Noses Brewing also has a very large tent with windows that it has set up alongside the brewery, where you can drink the brewery's wide variety of ales and lagers.
Holidaily Brewing801 Brickyard Circle, Golden
Golden's 100 percent gluten-free brewery, Holidaily Brewing, has a big open-side tent with festive lights, socially distanced tables and flickering fire pit.
Living the Dream Brewing12305 North Dumont Way, Littleton
Living the Dream saw the writing on the wall a couple of months ago and set up a tent outside with big heaters, which have become hard to find for many breweries and restaurants as suppliers run low.
Joyride Brewing2501 Sheridan Boulevard, Edgewater
Joyride Brewing built this rooftop deck two summers ago, and its timing was great because, although the brewery has some tables outdoors along West 25th Avenue, the patio offers cover, shade and fire pits.
Golden City Brewery920 12th Street, Golden
A longtime favorite in its home town, Golden City Brewery spent considerable effort building protective fencing on its spacious patio. Now the brewery is even offering s'mores kits using its small fireboxes as marshmallow roasters.
Wibby Brewing209 Emery Street, Longmont
"Come 5 p.m. Friday, indoor seating will no longer be allowed, but we’ve got you 'covered!'" says Longmont's Wibby Brewing. "Our beautiful outdoor space will remain open!" The brewery is serving beer, of course, but also has warm drinks, fire pits (reservations suggested) and hand warmers available through GoTab or the bar. Bring your own blanket and enjoy the covered, open-air pavilion.
El Rancho Brewing29260 Highway 40, Evergreen
It can get chilly in Evergreen, but El Rancho Brewing has you literally covered. The brewpub enclosed its existing patio and added heaters and spaced-out tables.
Factotum Brewhouse3845 Lipan Street
Factotum has purchased a pair of greenhouses for trial outdoor seating. The upside here: The structures are built to keep in the heat and are intended for seating one group at a time.
Big Choice Brewing21 South First Avenue, Brighton
Big Choice Brewing, meanwhile, acquired some paneled greenhouses, which will be heated and turned into separate seating areas for small groups.
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