Photos: An exclusive first look at what's on the menu at the Lowry Beer Garden

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The new Lowry Beer Garden, which opens next Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Hangar 2 project, is not, insists Joe Vostrejs, a German mimic.

In fact, says Vostrejs, the COO of Larimer Associates, a coalition of partners who are developing the Hangar 2 project, it's a homegrown, Colorado-style beer garden. "Instead of pickles and Pumpernickel bread, we've tried to follow a more Colorado-centric approach to what we're doing here," he asserts.

Yes, he admits, "We have brats and burgers, but they've got a lot of Colorado character -- the brats are from Continental Sausage, a local company, our breads are from Bluepoint Bakery, another local company, and we've got elk and bison, which the state is known for. Pretty much everything we have on the menu is stuff that makes you think of Colorado," he says.

Troy Guard, the executive chef/owner of TAG, TAG RAW BAR and Madison Street, consulted on the menu, but Josiah Miller, who moved to Denver just three weeks ago from Florida, where he worked the line for four years at Carrabba's, a high-volume Italian chain, is commanding the kitchen. The beer garden board is a mash-up of burgers -- beef, bison, turkey, chicken or vegetarian -- brats, sandwiches, innovative salads, chicken wings, side dishes like potato salad specked with bacon and hand-cut fries and the obligatory beer garden pretzel. But that pretzel, roughly the size of a steering wheel, is significantly better than the blasphemous pretzels at the ballpark, plus it's accompanied by a quartet of housemade mustards.

All the brats and burgers can be ordered naked or paired with a series of multi-ingredient toppings that zigzag from jalapeno cream cheese and caramelized onions to the "Crestmoor," a jumble of cheddar, sugar-cured bacon and barbecue sauce. And Miller, who uses baguettes -- not buns -- for his brats, removes the heels, slices the baguettes so they measure six inches, knifes off a small side of the crust, rolls the baguettes in butter, sears them to seal in the steam, slices them down the middle and then amply stuff them until they're busting at the seams. The result is a simultaneously soft and crisp-edged baguette that holds up well to the weight of the meat and toppings.

But despite the proliferation of beer garden essentials, the menu doesn't ignore the fact that this is a city steeped in a healthy groove. "We've got the bacon potato salad, but we also have small and big salads that you can have instead of potato salad and fries," notes Vostrejs. "We wanted to strike a balance between the gut-busters and healthy alternatives," he adds.

But he's cognizant, too, that Lowry is a community that's home to a swell of families, so soft-serve ice cream -- vanilla, chocolate and the twist -- is part of the equation. "We want to make the kids happy," he says.

I was certainly happy earlier this week when I stopped by to sample several dishes, the photos of which are on the following pages.

Elk jalapeno-cheddar dog topped with chipotle-lime slaw and avocado slices. "Maui-style" seared tuna with edamame beans, napa cabbage, fresh mango, cucumber and romaine dressed with a miso vinaigrette. The burger "B.O.M.B" -- a hand-molded ground chuck patty crowned with bacon, onions, blue cheese crumbles and mushrooms. Salad of grilled zucchini, hearts of palm, red peppers and fennel tossed with pepitas and dressed with a green herb vinaigrette. The "Coloradoan" pheasant dog draped with roasted poblano peppers, chipotle may and melted pepper Jack cheese. Hand-cut, skin-on french fries. Salad of chickpeas, olives, fresh mint, red onions, cranberries, roasted red peppers and romaine leaves showered with a white balsamic vinaigrette. Bacon and chive potato salad. The biggest beer garden pretzel in the galaxy, served with a quartet of housemade mustards, including blueberry mustard, an apricot mustard and an apple-bacon mustard. Prosciutto and hard-boiled egg salad with nubs of goat cheese, haricot verts, shaved Parmesan, oven-roasted tomatoes and romaine sprayed with honey-mustard vinaigrette. Bison burger paired with the "Montclair" topping: Swiss, avocado, bacon, sliced tomatoes and mayo. The landscaped outdoor beer garden and sheltered pavilion.

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