Renegade Brewing isn't cooking malt and hops yet at its huge new production and packaging facility on First Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, but it has opened the building for public tours -- along with pints.
Tours will be offered from 4 to 7 p.m. on Fridays and 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Attendees can buy a pint or two as they tour, though there's no seating. "You can hang out, but it's pretty informal. The taps are coming right out of the cooler," says brewery founder Brian O'Connell. "We want to introduce people to the new space and let them know we're there."
That will be challenging at first, since the brewery is located in the 2.5-acre Yard at Santa Fe, at 918 West First Avenue, which was home to the Stark lumberyard for more than a century and is now being slowly transitioned into a development. Locating Renegade will get easier as the site fills in, however, because the complex is expected to include a restaurant, a coffee shop, a gym, offices and Il Porcellino Salumi, a deli that will cure its own meats.
Renegade, which helped kick off Denver's craft renaissance when it opened its original spot just up the street at 925 West Ninth Avenue in 2011, revealed last March that it had outgrown that space and would create a second, larger facility. The brewery will eventually have 15,000 square feet at the Yard. For now, though, Renegade is still brewing at its Ninth Avenue brewery and then transporting the wort (unfermented beer) to the production facility, where it is fermented and then canned. By this summer, Renegade should be brewing in the new location on a thirty-barrel system. And by next year, O'Connell will take possession of the rest of the building, where he plans to add a second tap room.
Renegade is also packaging on its new canning line at the new location. The brewery will use exclusively twelve-ounce cans now, as opposed to the mixture of twelve- and sixteen-ouncers it had been using before. Renegade has also discontinued its line of bomber bottles in order to focus on cans.
The brewery packages four year-round beers: Redacted Rye IPA; Consilium Pale Ale; Hiatus, a cold coffee-infused ale; and Elevation Triple IPA (which will change its name to Endpoint this spring, following a legal settlement with Elevation Beer Company). It will began canning a fifth, 5:00 Afternoon Ale, this May; 5:00 had previously been a seasonal offering.
Renegade also makes two seasonals: Hammer & Sickle Russian Imperial Stout and the yet-to-be-released Contrarian Imperial Pilsner.
Bring out your best! The first round in our Best of Denver 2015 Readers' Poll closes at midnight February 13, which means there's not a moment to lose if you want to vote in any of the more than eighty food and drink categories. After the first round of voting, the poll will go dark for a week or so while we tabulate the results, and then we'll have a second round of voting on the five finalists in each category. The winners will be revealed in our 32nd annual Best of Denver issue, which hits the streets (and the web) on Thursday, March 26.
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But in the meantime, our Cafe crew is busy eating and drinking up a storm, searching out award contenders in categories that were too obscure for the poll but will make tasty additions to the issue. And, of course, we're researching our own answers to the categories on the poll. We're busy drinking in dives, to see if anything can top the Lakeview Lounge, and drinking in non-dives, to determine if the house marg at Adelitas Cocina y Cantina is still the best in town. (Adelitas has a new house tequila, Cimarron, that makes that marg even better.)
And we're eating a lot of Chinese food. Our 2014 Best Chinese Restaurant winner -- Chef Liu's -- closed late last year, so that category is wide open in 2015. Among the contenders we served up in our list of the ten best Chinese restaurants we've found (so far): China Jade in Aurora, China Taipei in Centennial, Zoe Ma Ma in Boulder (a second location just opened by Union Station), and Hasu Asian Bistro & Sushi (the Cherry Creek version of what had been East Asia Garden on Broadway), Hong Kong BBQ, JJ Chinese Seafood, Lao Wang Noodle House, King's Land Seafood Restaurant, Star Kitchen and Super Star Asian, all in Denver.
And, yes, before anyone asks, we define "Denver" as the entire metro area. After all, good food doesn't observe city boundaries -- and we'd certainly drive a dozen miles for a great plate of dumplings.
Have ideas for potential Best of Denver winners? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.