There's old Denver, and there's new Denver. And somewhere in the middle, they are connected by the craft-beer renaissance that has taken place over the past quarter-century. That nexus comes into focus on the eighth floor of the new Source Hotel, which will open this weekend in the River North Arts District.
It's up here where New Belgium Brewing, Colorado's largest and one of its oldest craft breweries, has teamed up with the developers of the Source Hotel to create The Woods, a restaurant that has been draped inside a barrel cellar and decorated with a dunk pool and intoxicating, nearly 360-degree views of the city.
The food will be prepared by chef Brandon Biederman, formerly of Steuben's and Vesta, while the beers will eventually be brewed eight floors down, near the hotel lobby. That's where New Belgium is getting ready to install a ten-barrel pilot brewhouse that will be manned by Geoff Wenzel. (In the meantime, he's brewing the beers for the Woods at New Belgium's Fort Collins headquarters.) It should be running this fall.
New Belgium spokesman Jesse Claeys says Biederman and Wenzel, who has been brewing for fifteen years, will work together "to blur the lines between food and beer."
They will brew a variety of beers, including a kettle-soured watermelon ale, a house saison and a New England-style IPA, along with a host of others. But when they are ready, the real draw will be the sour beers that have been aged in a couple dozen Leopold Bros. barrels that sit just feet from the pool. Wenzel will have an unusual challenge keeping the wooden barrels at the right temperature and humidity, since they are located just inside the garage doors leading out to the patio.
Zeppelin Development, which is also responsible for the Source, Taxi and Zeppelin Station, worked with New Belgium to envision the unusual experience, in the planning for more than three years.
The Woods will cater not just to hotel guests but the public as well, and it gives off a hip, upscale vibe that people in Denver wouldn't have recognized fifteen years ago. Still, guests can also ground themselves by looking out over the mountains and RiNo's formerly industrial backbone.
The saline pool will only be open to hotel guests, and although it is very small, it can be heated to 105 degrees and serve as a big hot tub in the winter (there is also a regular hot tub). Dunkers will have to be comfortable donning swimsuits in front of dinner guests, but everyone will be looking at the views, anyway.
Another perk for hotel guests: There are two taps of New Belgium beer at the check-in stand, so they can get a glass as they fill out their paperwork and take it upstairs to their room.