The Great American Beer Festival begins just six days from now. If you want to be ready (and believe me, we are soooo ready), you'll need to check in here every afternoon for some lowdown, some insight and some tips on how to do it right.
In the meantime, here's our list of the ten best brewpubs in the Denver area:
1. Bull & Bush Brewery (4700 Cherry Creek Dr. South Denver, CO, 303-759-0333). Nearly four decades old, the Bull & Bush is a classic bar married to a microbrewery, and it works on both levels. It's the kind of place you wonder why you don't visit every weekend.
2. Wynkoop Brewing Company (1634 18th St., Denver, 303-297-2700). The oldest, the biggest and the one that was founded by Mayor John Hickenlooper; the Wynkoop is the bleeding heart of LoDo, a meeting place and a Mecca for beer lovers worldwide.
3. Blue Moon Brewery @ the Sandlot (2161 Blake St, Denver, 303-298-1587). Denver's strangest brewpub, this place is only open during Colorado Rockies games and only for ticket holders; is the birthplace of Blue Moon and, although it is owned by Coors, carries an independent steak and a knack for making unusual beers.
4. Breckenridge Brewery (2220 Blake St, Denver, 303-297-3644). Although it was founded in its namesake mountain town, Breck gives people two choice in Denver, the longstanding LoDo location across from Coors Field and a BBQ joint near the Golden Triangle, where it also makes most of its beer.
5. Vine Street Pub (1700 Vine St., Denver, 303-388-2337). It has strange hours, it doesn't take credit cards and it smells like Boulder, but the great beers at Vine Street Pub, part of the Mountain Sun chain, will make you forget all that.
6. Great Divide Brewing Company Tap Room (2201 Arapahoe St., 303- 296-9460). Technically, it doesn't serve food, but Great Divide hosts enough special events that you'd never know it; the place also pushes the limits on brewing to place you might be afraid to go.
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7. Pints Pub (221 W. 13th Ave., Denver, 303-534-7543). They do things a little bit different in England, and Pints Pub isn't afraid to hit you with the full cultural experience, from warm ale to the cask-conditioned stuff.
8. Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery (1001 16th St., Denver, 303-534-7616). Colorado-based Rock Bottom was one of the first breweries to turn the concept into a chain, and the place still packs them in, all over the country. They've kept up with their roots, as well, by churning out new beers and new styles all the time.
9. Tommyknocker Brewery and Pub (1401 Miner St., Idaho Springs, 303-567-2688). Westword's Best Brewpub in 2009, Tommy Knocker serves great food and brews great beer. It's the perfect place to stop after a day of skiing or hiking in the mountains -- and just twenty or so minutes from town.
10. Yak and Yeti (8665 N. Sheridan Blvd., Arvada, 303-426-1976). Unusual? Yeah, the Yak and Yeti is an Indian restaurant in a restored Victorian bungalow in Arvada that makes its own beer. What's on tap? Try the Chai Milk Stout.