As thousands of beer-seekers prepare today for the hop mecca that is Great American Beer Festival, locals and visitors alike can takes advantage of the many ways that restaurants incorporate that fizzy friend into their culinary creations.
Here's a list, in no particular order, of some local restaurants that get creative with suds.
See also: Ten autumn-inspired desserts to fall for
10) Wynkoop Brewing Company 1634 18th Street This tried-and-true hangout was Denver's first brewpub thanks to then-unemployed geologist Governor John Hickenlooper -- and its love of the hoppy stuff permeates shows through in the kitchen. The PEI Mussels are pan-roasted with soffrito and swim in a Wixa Weiss beer broth; their sandwiches are layered on bread made with their Railyard Ale; beer bread crumbs grace the house mac and cheese; B3k helps braise their lamb; and Wynkoop's IPA batters the cod in their fish and chips.
9) Breckenridge Brewery and BBQ 471 Kalamath Street Breckenridge Brewery, another early Colorado beer pioneer, brews, bottles, and kegs its beer at the Kalamath location. Aside from serving as a tasting room, Breckenridge Brewery and BBQ smokes meat daily using hickory wood that's been soaked in its Oatmeal Stout. Sample from sixteen-hour smoked pulled pork, smoked pork ribs,beef brisket, and their heart-stopper sausage -- along with their award-winning beers.
8) Rise and Shine Biscuit Kitchen & Cafe 330 Holly Street Rise and Shine carries its penchant for fluffy-biscuit slinging through the day, sandwiching eggs, cured meats, and all other manners of sandwich stuffings between fresh biscuits, drizzling them with honey or slathering them in jam. Their loyal following awaits their biscuit-of-the-day specials, which are released in advance on their website. The Great Divide beer biscuits are sought-after favorite.
5) Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs 2148 Larimer Street Biker Jim's is home to some of the most inventive (and unusual) brats and dogs we've ever eaten, utilizing unlikely proteins and flavor combinations that yield deliciously surprising results. This week, they celebrate Denver's week of beer with a Guinness beer brat, which is served up with a special imported German mustard and sauerkraut.
6) Hops & Pie 3920 Tennyson Street This Tennyson mainstay usually has a line out the door of hungry patrons seeking and its impeccable beer offerings or one of its prized pizzas -- pizzas that are made with the restaurant's house brew, an IPA from Strange Brewing. The pizza chefs fold the beer into the pizza crust, but they also use it in their cheddar mac and cheese with smoked ham, English peas, and herbed bread crumbs.
5) Rackhouse Pub 208 South Kalamath Street The hearty, stick-to-your-ribs pub fare at Rackhouse Pub prominently features the Stranahan's whiskey that's made in the attached distillery. But they incorporate Colorado beer into their homestyle menu, too. The roux for their beer-baked mac and cheese, the beer cheese for their giant Bavarian pretzels, their barbecue sauce and chili, and their Great Divide Yeti-bacon brownie all use beer in the recipes.
4) Vine Street Pub & Brewery 1700 Vine Street Vine Street takes advantage of any reason to celebrate beer and the spirit of beer-making, as evident in their month-long Stout celebration in February. They use beer in their kitchen, too, and on Wednesdays, patrons can come in for a pint (or several) and fish n' chips, which use an in-house kolsch in the battering process.
3) Falling Rock Tap House 1919 Blake Street Like clockwork, GABF attendees make the pilgrimage to Falling Rock Taphouse, the legendary craft beer bar that has more than 75 beers on tap and another 130 plus beers by the bottle. Inevitably, the enthusiasm for tasting them will result in a sampling of their pub menu, which has the usual overflowing baskets of fries, burgers, and the patron-favorite beer-battered mushrooms, which are served up with chipotle pesto ranch and a spicy honey mustard.
2) Freshcraft 1530 Blake Street Since 2010, Freshcraft has showcased an impressive lineup of craft beers that complement typical and not-so-typical bar foods, like burgers and schnitzel. Their ale and cheese soup is a beer-drinkers dream partner, a creamy blend of cheddar and jack cheese simmered with savory onions and roasted garlic in pale ale, garnished with thick bacon crumbs and soft pretzel pieces.
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1) Bull & Bush Pub & Brewery 4700 Cherry Creek Drive South Bull & Bush found inspiration in the aesthetic of an old London pub, and has been run by two generations of the Peterson family. The comfortable bar is chock-full of its steady stream of award-winning craft beers, all of which influence the menu. The extra-special bangers and mash are made with their Tower E.S.B. and their legendary fish and chips use the same, blended into a spicy house-made tartar sauce.