Who planted the hops vines that cover the hillsides around Central City? And when? Could they simply be a native species, or were they introduced by the beer-loving denizens of Central City after the Gold Rush of 1859 put the town on the map?
Buddy Schmalz and Dave Thomas don't know the answers for sure, but they do know that the plants make a good beer, which Schmalz has been brewing at his Dostal Alley Brewpub (and casino!) since it opened in 1997.
"Every year, I see homebrewers come up here and pick bagfuls," he says, adding that the plants aren't hard to find. "I'm surprised there aren't more."
The beer, Jacob Mack, is named for the man who founded the Mack Brewery, one of six Central City breweries that helped settle miners' neves more than a hundred years ago. And while the Mack Brewery lies in ruins outside of town, the hops flourish.
Can the same be said for Central City itself? You can read about the town and its upscale, down-the-hill neighbor, Black Hawk, in Westword's current cover story. For photos of Central City's beer history, look below.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.