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Photos: Pub 17, pouring all Colorado beers, opens at the Grand Hyatt Denver

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It's been a two-year project in the making, but the Grand Hyatt Denver now trumpets a restaurant and bar that just might lure locals, in conjunction with the hordes of tourists that bunk here on their visits to the Mile High City. Pub 17, which replaces 1876, the hotel's former street-level restaurant, hosts its grand opening tonight from 5 to 7 p.m., with complimentary appetizers and beer from Great Divide and Dry Dock and Stranahan's whiskey, all of which are part of the local liquor and beer lineup that assistant food and beverage manager Josh Klein envisioned when he designed the beverage roster, which includes more than fifty canned, bottled and tap brews, all from Colorado.

"Two years ago, we embarked on a small project to elevate the restaurant, starting with a new coat of paint, but we soon realized that we needed to do much more than that to stand out," admits Klein, "so we decided to re-brand the restaurant, partly because we knew that it was very hotel-y, and partly because we knew that there were so many great Colorado products out there that we should be taking advantage of."

Including the state's abundance of hangover remedies. Klein's libations list not only ballyhoos all Colorado beer, but also Colorado spirits and a half-dozen Colorado wines, including Two Rivers, Guy Drew and The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, which supplies Pub 17 with its Cabernet and syrah, making it the only restaurant/bar in Colorado that sells those wines.

Klein was also one of the only lucky recipients in the state to get his hands on Renegade Brewing Company's Ryetous, a just-released canned beer with an allocation of only forty cases. Pub 17 got two. "We not only wanted to focus on things that were local to Colorado, but also things that have really limited distribution -- even in Colorado," says Klein, whose beverage syllabus also boasts classic cocktails and "hoptails," all of which are made with Colorado suds.

And executive chef Jay Leandro's menu is a homage to local and seasonal offerings, too; he's using cheeses from Haystack and Mouco, his lamb and all-natural bavette beef are sourced locally and so is his buffalo. And while the menu isn't groundbreaking, it's evolved beyond your typical hotel restaurant menu, and even the bar roster parades roasted bone marrow, Scotch eggs and crisp-edged orbs of chorizo and risotto.

"If you're a beer geek, you'll always find another beer here that you haven't drunk or heard of before, and if you're a foodie, then you can get a really great meal," says Klein, adding that "we're trying to cater to a mix of our own hotel guests and to locals."

And starting in September, Pub 17 will begin rolling out beer- and wine-pairing dinners once a month, and the pub already has brew-related events lined up every day during the Great American Beer Festival, including an opening party hosted by one of Colorado's best breweries.

The restaurant is open from 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., seven days a week, and you can get a double dose of happy hour, too, which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. to close, with $3 drafts, $4 house wines and $5 "hoptails." Ad today, happy hour is all day, plus there's free valet parking at tonight's grand opening.

I spent the lunch hour with Klein yesterday, sipping cocktails and sampling several of Leandro's new dishes, the photos of which are on the following pages.

Herb-roasted bone marrow with Rye lager caramelized onion puree and grilled bread. Pub 17 taplines, which will change every few weeks -- and always include a rotating tap from what Klein calls a "nano-brewery" like Caution, Strange Brewing Company or Lone Tree Brewing Company. Gazpacho. The peach old-fashioned, concocted with Peach Street Colorado straight bourbon, liquor-soaked cherries and Leopold's Rocky Mountain peach whiskey. Mussels bobbing in a Laughing Lab ale broth with garlic, linguiça and tomatoes. "Feint of Heart" hoptail: Fat Tire, Leopold's small batch gin, grenadine and fresh lemon. The mac and cheese will change every week, but yesterday's version was roasted tomato. Colorado lamb burger stacked with sweet pickles, tzatziki sauce, arugula and tomatoes. Renegade Brewery's limited release Ryeteous beer. Semolina pillows topped with Haystack Mountain goat cheese and microgreens and plated with Ellie's Brown Ale-infused red pepper jam. Bacon and white cheddar grilled cheese paired with housemade tomato jam. Herbed buttermilk-soaked chicken with a fresh pea and bacon croquette, sauteed asparagus and grape tomatoes. The Hyatt dining room, which has new tables, muted lighting and new artwork.

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