Is designing a great beer comparable to drafting the look of a great city? Can brewers take inspiration from the architecture around them when they make a great draft beer? Do city planning and beer go together particularly well in Denver?
The organizers behind the Biennial of the Americas will look for answers to these questions next week when they host Craft Urbanism: Beer Gardens in the City, an arty "pop-up" event near the Cherry Creek River that ties Denver's cityscape together with its well-known suds-scape.
See also: - Your guide to the 2013 Biennial of the Americas - 100 Colorado Creatives: Biennial co-curator Cortney Lane Stell - The DMNS and Denver Beer Co conduct a wild brewing experiment with City Park yeast
Four Denver breweries will be serving beer in four adjacent patches of downtown on July 20 in order "to offer a unique view of the city and draw attention to different aspects of Denver's urban design," says Mardee Goff, who helped planned the beer pop-ups.
"These spaces aren't really used for gatherings," she explains. "The bridge is used for commuting; the alleys are used for deliveries. So we are making people rethink their urban environment and rethink the way the city has been structured."
"We want people to appreciate the way cities are planned, the beauty, but also the shortcomings and why things are the way they are...and beer gardens are an appealing platform to start with. We can engage the public and pull on Denver's beer culture."
To do that, she enlisted the help of Wynkoop Brewing and Great Divide, two of the city's oldest and most well-known breweries, along with Strange Brewing and Denver Beer Co, which helped inaugurate a new wave of Mile High breweries in the past three years.
Denver Beer Co, which is the the official brewery of the Biennial, is even making a beer just for the four-day celebration of arts and culture, which starts July 16. Biennial Maya Nut Brown was brewed with ingredients from all across the Americas, including malted barley from Canada and Patagonia, hops from Colorado and Maya nuts from Honduras and Nicaragua, says Denver Beer Co co-owner Patrick Crawford.
Activists and agricultural workers in Central America are working to turn the Maya Nut into a cash crop that will help prevent deforestation and support impoverished communities there at the same time, according to Crawford and Goff.
The beer will include coffee, chocolate and mocha flavors; Denver Beer Co made 75 kegs of it and will serve the beer at various Biennial events around town.
"We want this to be an enjoyable experience first and foremost and one that will give people a chance to experience Denver in a unique way that they wouldn't normally do," Goff says. "They'll rethink the way a city is planned...and take away a sample of beer."
The beer pop-ups will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, along the Wynkoop Pedestrian Bridge on 14th Street between Wynkoop and Wazee; and in the alley between the Cherry Creek Trail and 15th Street. Beers cost $4 each, but you can buy a $12 advance ticket through the Biennial's website to get four twelve-ounce beers for the price of three.
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