Beer Man

The ten best Colorado brewery patios

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FATE Brewing 1600 38th Street, Boulder When he opened FATE Brewing in January 2013, Mike Lawinski had a hunch that his two patios might be ideal for watching July 4 fireworks blasting off over Boulder's Folsom Field. "We almost marketed it last year, but we wanted to test our theory first," he says. The theory turned out to be correct, and this year, Fate will make an Independence Day beer that you can enjoy on one of about 200 of the best seats in town for oohs and aahs. "When the sun goes down, we will be a perfect spot," he says.

FATE's patios feature cornhole games, flat-screen TVs, a trellis with hops growing on it, a few patio armchairs, and heaters in the winter; there are views of the base of Chautauqua and the Flatirons year-round. Customers can order food or just beer -- say, the refreshing Watermelon Kolsch. "We really want people to just enjoy it, push a few tables together and be as comfortable as possible," Lawinski says. "I don't think we skip a beat from inside to outside, which is something that places can have trouble with."

Golden City Brewery 920 12th Street, Golden If spending time on the patio at Golden City Brewery makes you feel like you're drinking beer in someone's back yard, that's because you are. Charlie and Janine Sturdavant started the brewery in their home back in 1993 -- a time when this space was a lawn with a swingset and a trampoline. But after the grass died, around 1998, the Sturdavants decided to cover it in gravel, add some landscaping and begin the transformation that has resulted in one of Colorado's oldest and most loved brewery patios.

"It's not stuffy or uppity. We have umbrellas and pop-up tents, some trees and the big apple tree that everyone loves," says the Sturdavants' daughter, Tamara Munroe. "There are seats for 42 people, but when people really pack in, we've had up to 300 in there."

Golden City -- which only has room for fourteen people inside -- recently added a couple of stools made out of old kegs to complement the benches and the picnic tables on the patio, along with a couple of fire bars that give off a gas flame and some ambiance. To get a beer, you just walk up to the outdoor window that looks in on the tap lines and pick from a variety of year-round favorites and seasonal specialties.

The brewery is no longer serving food -- something it had done for years -- but Golden City has begun welcoming food trucks on the weekends. "And the Golden Natural Market across the street took our pizza ovens and sandwich stations, and they deliver their sandwiches and pizza over here now," Munroe says.

The Post Brewing 105 West Emma Street, Lafayette There are nights when Lara Vann-Dagenhardt, general manager of The Post Brewing in Lafayette, has to congratulate herself while she's hanging out on the expansive patio, gazing into the flames in the outdoor fireplaces. "The chef and I have looked at each other many times and said, 'Good job,'" she admits.

The Post and GoodBird Kitchen, a fried-chicken joint, are located inside a former VFW Hall; the Big Red F restaurant group opened the place in January, with former Dogfish Head brewmaster Bryan Selders in the brewery. The patio didn't come online until April -- but it's already become a hot spot, and it's easy to see why.

For starters, there's a covered outdoor bar with seating for seventeen people, where you can try any one of Selders's creations, including East County Brown, a new beer that works particularly well on cool evenings. The patio also has ten covered tables and a slew of community tables that are under umbrellas and surrounded by mature trees. No room at the tables? Try one of the Adirondack chairs around the brewery's grain silo.

"People love to sit in those and watch their kids play cornhole or ring toss," Vann-Dagenhardt says. Speaking of kids, they can pick peppers, strawberries, kale or tomatoes from the three on-site gardens.

"It's really a fun place to be, especially on the weekends," she adds. And on July 4, the Post will host a massive pig roast. "We imagine that people will ride down and get some pig and some delicious brews and then head off to see the fireworks."

Prost Brewing 2540 19th Street, Denver Communal tables, a gravel floor and big, frothy steins of Bavarian-style beer, like dunkel, maibock and weissbier; food trucks serving brats (or at least hot dogs). If you squint and use a little imagination at Prost Brewing, you might think you're in Munich. That was the idea when Prost opened in August 2012, complete with a fifty-year-old, seventy-barrel copper brewing system acquired in Germany. And the theme is still holding strong at the brewery, which sits atop a rise at the edge of LoHi, with a great view of downtown.

"We tried to stay true to the theme of the German beer gardens with the communal tables, the pea rock. It just ties in with what we do," says Prost co-owner Troy Johnston. The biergarten out front can seat ninety to 100 people, but it can hold up to 140 beer lovers. Prost recently planted hops and installed a garage door that opens up onto the patio, and it plans to add some shade sails later this summer, although Johnston says the south side of the patio gets natural shade beginning around 4 p.m. in the summer.

Despite the German theme, however, you'll know you're in the United States over the July 4 weekend, when the patio fills up each night with people who are hip to the fact that this spot has one of the city's best views of fireworks shows not just at Coors Field and Sports Authority Field at Mile High, but as far away as Glendale and the Denver Country Club.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes