Free beer puts everyone in a good mood, so kick off the week with one, then use the money you saved to hit a food festival, cuddle some cows or kick up your heels with Celts. In addition to the legendary A Taste of Colorado, which continues from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Civic Center Park on Monday, September 4, here are six of the best food and drink events this week.
Monday, September 4
What's better than free beer on a day off work? Not a damn thing. Bruz Beers, 1675 West 67th Avenue, has figured this out and is kicking off its monthly Customer Appreciation Day on Monday, September 4. From noon to 8 p.m., your first beer at Bruz is free — no strings attached. Going forward, the offer will be good on the first Monday of each month.
Broken Shovels Farm, the no-kill farm-animal sanctuary at 8640 Dahlia Street in Henderson, fights for animal rights and works tirelessly to save goats, cows, chickens, turkeys and more from neglect and brutality. The public is invited to scratch bellies and hug the farm's animals at a fundraiser with musician Nathan Kalish on Monday, September 4, from 5 to 9 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring apples, celery, citrus fruits, kale and other farm-friendly foods for the animals, and tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under twelve. It's BYOB, and the Wanderculinarilust food truck will be on the premises. For more information, including details about the animals' food, visit facebook.com/brokenshovels.
Tuesday, September 5
The Denver Food + Wine Festival is upon us: Starting on Tuesday, September 5, and running through Sunday, September 10, the fesival promises to be an orgy of drinking, eating, imbibing, indulging and, well...drinking. Tickets are still available at all price points; depending on what whets your appetite, they'll set you back a very reasonable $40 to a steep $195 — and there's even a VIP Grand Tasting ticket available for $250 if you want to go all in. Our pick? The Culinary Cinema Series will screen the documentary Barbecue on Tuesday, September 5, at 7 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. The movie is sure to make your mouth water, which won't be a problem, as the $40 ticket includes bites from Hearth & Dram, Rolling Smoke Bar-B-Que and the Nickel; drinks will be available for purchase at the theater's bar. Snag tickets and find the rest of the festival's schedule at denverfoodandwine.com.
Wednesday, September 6
Spuntino's Wine Corner Wednesday on Wednesday (natch), September 6, showcases six Nebbiolos; this tricky varietal is difficult to cultivate outside its native Piedmont, so the fact that all six of the bottles on the menu are from outside this region is something special. The wine starts flowing at the cozy bar, 2639 West 32nd Avenue, at 6:30 p.m. Appetizers are included in the $40 price, and seats will go fast since there are so few of them. To make sure you get in on the fun, call 303-433-0949.
Thursday, September 7
Food lovers fed up with sprawling, high-end festivals will feel at home at the much more relaxed, family-friendly Taste of Highlands on Thursday, September 7. From 6 to 9 p.m., the corner of West 32nd Avenue and Osceola Street in Highlands Square will host more than twenty north Denver restaurants, wineries and breweries for your sampling pleasure. Nibble on dishes from Bacon Social House, Mizu Izakaya, Brazen and Little Man Ice Cream while sipping beers from Briar Common Brewery, spirits from Rising Sun Distillery and wine from Bonacquisti Wine Company; there will also be a Beverage Garden for additional drink purchases. Tickets are $40 or $60 (VIP entry is at 5 p.m. and includes a drink ticket and swag bag); kids eight and older do require a ticket purchase, but you'll save $40 if you buy four at a time. See tasteofhighlands.com for a complete list of participating vendors and tickets.
Friday, September 8
Everybody says they're Irish on St. Patrick's Day, but there's not much to that amateur hour other than a single day of watery green beer. Claim (or fabricate) your Irish or Scottish heritage for a much better celebration: the Long's Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival on Friday, September 8, through Sunday, September 10. A single day pass will run you $25 ($5 for kiddos ages five to ten, $10 for those eleven to sixteen), but it gets you so much: From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, Stanley Park Fairgrounds, 1209 Manford Avenue in Estes Park, will be packed with jousting (light and heavy armor), strongman (and -woman!) competitions, cloggers, bagpiping contests, Irish dancers, military bands and color guards, live music, dogs of the British Isles — and, of course, whisk(e)y and British beer. Check out scotfest.com for tickets and a complete schedule, then don your best tartan and get back to your roots.
If you're a planner, keep reading for more food and drink events...
Saturday, September 9
Barbecue is typically paper-plate food with simple sides and a pile of sliced white bread to mop up all the sauces. But chef Justin Brunson of Old Major and John Tesar of Element Kitchen & Cocktail are planning something a little more special than a backyard cookout — and it will benefit a good cause. Join the chefs at the Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery, 3200 Larimer Street, on Saturday September 9, for the winery's fall harvest kickoff and fundraiser for the University of Colorado's Cancer Research Center. The two chefs will be cooking up some smoked California-style tri-tips, Texas-style hot links, barbecue pork belly, tomato salad, pole-bean salad and assorted pickles. IMT will chip in with a few new wines, including dry-hopped sauvignon blanc, 2016 Colorado malbec and 2016 Colorado cabernet franc. Music from Ejay the DJ will keep guests entertained on the IMT patio, and there will also be a silent auction to benefit the research center. The fun runs from 6 to 9 p.m., and tickets, at $40 per person, can be purchased on IMT's website.
Thursday, September 14, through Sunday, September 17
Fall is grape-harvesting season in the Centennial State, and it seems every mountain town is celebrating the season with a wine festival in August and September. From Thursday, September 14, through Sunday, September 17, it's Breckenridge's turn to lure the bikers, hikers and drinkers up the hill with gorgeous fall weather and great wines at the Breckenridge Wine Classic. There are luncheons, seminars, tours, hikes, tastings and bike rides to be had — all of them geared toward highlighting the beverage of honor. The best part about Breckenridge's celebration? Its proximity to Denver: You'll barely have to spend ninety minutes commuting to feel like you're in a different world (though the drive back to Denver might be a different story). A full schedule is up, and tickets ($55 to $145) are on sale now at breckenridgewineclassic.com.
Wednesday, September 27 through Sunday, October 1
Boulder's Flatirons Food Film Festival is turning five this year; in its relatively short history, it has built a following based on movies packed with images of cameras slowly panning over gorgeously plated food and earnest chef interviews — in short, food porn. This year's lineup doesn't disappoint: From documentaries about the legendary James Beard to a con man scamming the high-end wine market to foodie classics like Ratatouille and Eat Drink Man Woman, the festival has something for everyone. You can even get your little ones involved with a farmers' market tour and cooking demo geared toward kids. Most events are $10, and a pass for the entire festival is a steal at just $65. Check out flatironsfoodfilmfest.org for details.
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Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4
The Den brothers are throwing a party, and you'll want to add it to your social calendar. On Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4, the roof of the parking garage at the corner of South Pearl Street and East Florida Avenue will turn into a veritable Japanese street fair from 5 to 9 p.m. Not only will Toshi and Yasu Kizaki be providing food from Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and Ototo, but they've called on twenty of their Japanese chef friends to hop the pond and lend their talents to the rooftop party. Expect ramen, yakisoba noodles, the hard-to-find-in-Denver okonomiyaki, yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) and lots, lots more. Tickets are $75 and include three drinks (additional beverages will be available for purchase). As with every party the Kizakis host, this one is likely to sell out, so check out sushiden.net asap for details and tickets.
Friday, October 13
Everyone know that fall is the season for heavier things — sweaters, socks and drinks. One of our favorite fall and winter pastimes (and make no mistake, winter is coming) is enjoying a generous pour of whiskey and a cigar by a crackling fireplace. Bonus points if there's a bear-skin rug on the floor. So prepare for the season by tasting and testing a wealth of whiskeys at The WhiskyX on Friday, October 13, from 7 to 10 p.m. Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard, will host more than fifty whiskeys, and VIP ticket holders will have access to food from premier Denver chefs Elise Wiggins (Cattivella), Jennifer Jasinski (Ultreia, Euclid Hall, Rioja, etc.) and Paul C. Reilly (Beast + Bottle and Coperta). Tickets ($75 or $125) are on sale now at thewhiskyx.com.