Beer

You Can Walk, Bike or Ride a Horse to Arvada's Colorado Tap House

Colorado Tap House sits along the Ralston Creek Trail.
Colorado Tap House sits along the Ralston Creek Trail. Ryan Pachmayer
After nearly three years of challenges, Erik Zeitlow and his wife, Jen, opened Colorado Tap House in West Arvada in March. "In late 2018, we decided that we wanted to do something different," says Erik. "I was in IT consulting and took some time off. We asked, what's missing in our neighborhood? And we felt it was some place to hang out with family and friends."

The Zeitlows noticed a lot of fun business concepts opening up in the metro area, but none in their own neighborhood, so they started to look for property. Within a few months, they found a lot at 14982 West 69th Avenue in Arvada; the only problem was that the realtor said the owner wasn't all that interested in selling it.

"[The owners] said that it wasn't really for sale, but tell us what you're thinking," recalls Erik. "And we said a tap house right on the trail — biking, families, walking. It turns out Lee Kunz Development was the owner, and Lee Kunz's son made a movie called A Beer Tale, about two kids going to CU whose family is in the beer business. So they said, 'We'll sell you the land.' We made our offer and they said, 'Done.'"

The couple started working with the city in 2019, and they received approval in March 2020, just days before the COVID lockdowns. "The community support was incredible," says Jen. "Even at the city council, they said they've never seen the chamber so full of people to support a business."
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The main bar at Colorado Tap House.
Ryan Pachmayer
While it was clear that the community was hungry for the concept, "We had to put everything on hold to see how the pandemic would play out," Erik notes.

In late 2020, the couple finished renegotiating with their lenders, and construction began in the early summer of 2021. The property is in a floodplain, so a flood plan had to be developed. It also needed rezoning, and all the infrastructure had to be brought in to the land. "I think most businesses saw this and said it was cheaper, easier and faster to go in somewhere else," says Erik. "For us, we said it might cost a little more money and take a little more time, but we know the community, so we felt it was worth it."

And while Colorado Tap House has been open for less than six months, the early returns are promising. Its 78 bike spaces have been packed full many weekends, Jen notes — the couple even counted over 100 bikes recently. That aspect of the business was purposeful, as the Zeitlows wanted to take advantage of the property being located right on the western branch of the Ralston Creek Trail.

The trail runs all the way from the far southeast corner of Arvada, at Gold Strike Park, where it merges with Clear Creek Trail, and all the way west to Highway 93 before dropping down and heading toward New Terrain Brewing and North Table Mountain. In fact, with the connection to the Clear Creek Trail, which in turn connects to the Colorado Front Range Trail, bikers from as far south as Parker and as far north as Thornton can bike to Colorado Tap House.
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Colorado Tap House offers a Colorado-only beer list, including Barmen Pilsner from AC Golden Brewing.
Ryan Pachmayer
Bikers aren't the only demographic interested in the business, though. Local walking groups and walkers living along the trail have been utilizing the convenient location, too. There are even a few hitching posts for horses, a common sight on the Western portion of the Ralston Creek Trail. Besides the trail traffic, the parking lot has been filling up on evenings and weekends, with a surprising amount of morning traffic as well. "We have blueberry muffins, rolls, breakfast burritos," notes Jen.

The couple tapped veteran Yard House manager Levi Hood to be their general manager; he has a keen eye for local standouts to fill the menu and tap list. Food vendors include Spicy Pete's Burritos of Arvada and Cinnamonster of Palmer Lake. In addition to its own in-house kitchen, the brewery also hosts one or two food trucks per day.

As for the beer, "My focus is on keeping the entire tap list balanced," Hood says. "We're not just catering to the IPA drinkers or the sour drinkers. There's a little bit of something for everybody." Like the food, beer options also come from the area. "We're all about being hyper-local," he adds. "We have New Image, Golden City, New Terrain, Resolute. We're trying to pull all the local beer and help out our [community neighbors]." The tap house also offers wine and spirits, the latter being fully local as well.
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The drink list at Colorado Tap House.
Ryan Pachmayer
Colorado Tap House is expansive, with outdoor seating (and games) on several patios, and two levels of indoor seating. Multiple bars cater to customers, and a sleekly designed floor plan that takes advantage of vertical space makes visitors feel like they're in their own world. The upper floor is purposed as overflow seating and an events space, complete with a dedicated bar and private patio. Private events for up to 150 people can be hosted at the tap house, with views of the Front Range mountains and forested creek below.

Having lived in the area for over 25 years, it's no wonder the Zeitlows have built such a comprehensive space for the community. And West Arvada is thrilled to have this real gem of a business in its neighborhood.

Colorado Tap House is located at 14982 West 69th Avenue in Arvada and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more information, visit coloradotaphouse.com.
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Ryan Pachmayer is a beer writer living in Arvada. He has written for publications such as Craft Beer & Brewing, Zymurgy, Porch Drinking, Homebrewing DIY and Punch. He is also the head brewer at Yak & Yeti Brewpub, marketing director at New Image Brewing and a BJCP Certified Judge.