Beer Man

The highs and lows of Stout Month at Vine Street Pub

The Vine Street Pub, which is celebrating the last few days of its annual Stout Month, is an unusual place to get a beer. Unusual because of the high highs and low lows.

It offers one of the most delicious lineups of homemade brews on tap in any brewpub in the Denver area, augmented every February by twenty or so different stouts, and the staff is fun and friendly and charmingly dressed to the man in the rattiest, too-small shirts that only their favorite thrift store had to offer, and to the woman in neck tattoos.

It's "Chop Month" there right now (a competition that ends this Saturday with people comparing the facial hair they've grown or applied, bagpipe playing, prizes and live haircuts), but I get the feeling these guys would wear their locks and their facial hair as if they just got out of bed -- after a two-week nap -- anyway.

You can also order a number of the brews (including Colorado Kind Ale, which is on my list of top five IPAs in the state) in 8-ounce glasses for $2.60 or 16-ounce glasses for $4.20. Yeah, Vine Street's parent company, Mountain Sun, had the marijuana thing going long before Cheba Hut, Mary Jane Pizza or your local dispensary.

The food is terrific, the location is great (at the corner of 17th Avenue and Vine Street, the space formerly home to Milagro Taco Bar, Rhino Room, Juanita's, among others) and happy hour, from 4 to 6 p.m., means that the price all of those already relatively inexpensive beers is cut in half.

But then, there are the lows. The place opens at 4 p.m., which is annoying every time I've passed by around lunchtime. It can't sell growlers of beer because it doesn't make its beer on site -- yet (read this post to see how the brewery plans to change that). And, worst of all, it doesn't take credit cards.

It has no TVs, but it does have big, family-style tables. It's packed just about every night, with a wait, but it also has board games for the kids and daily specials.

Overall, Vine Street, which opened in May 2008 as the third pub owned by Mountain Sun (the other two are in Boulder) is a great addition to Denver. And if you want to try its lineup of luscious stouts, get there fast, because stout month ends on Sunday.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Nihilist, a rich imperial stout, and its 2009, barrel-aged counterpart.

Coconut Cream stout, a dark beauty that tastes like it sounds.

Nitro Girl Scout, a nitrogen poured stout that tastes like a Thin Mint.

The Trickster, which tastes more like an overgrown, hop-heavy IPA.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes