Much like their befitting business plan of better pizza and better beer, Drew and Leah Watson of Hops & Pie just work. It makes sense, with over two decades of industry experience covering both the back and front of the house, Sonoma’s The Girl & The Fig among them. After living in Sonoma and San Diego, the Watsons decided it was time for something new — an artisan pizza concept married with the country’s best craft beers. So they moved to Denver, perhaps the best place on earth for such a pizzeria.
Approaching its second anniversary in late September, Hops & Pie has become both a neighborhood joint and a beer enthusiast destination. The Watsons welcome beer dorks and novices to their table, and their restaurant has become so popular that they expanded their space in late March. “We had no idea that craft beer would bring the crowd we have today,” Drew says.
It’s true, Drew and Leah offer one of the best beer selections in the state, featuring both local and bicoastal brews — everything from Denver staples to esoteric small batch beers. And speaking of beer, the cup runneth over... into the pizza crust. With a lot of science, patience, love and beer, the Hops & Pie crew has developed one of the most unique pizza doughs in the city.
“We wanted our own beer to cook with, and the timing worked when Strange Brewing was just opening,” Drew shares. Through the various batches, they arrived at a balanced IPA with a good, citrus hop flavor: Strange Brewing's exclusive Hops and PIe P.A.. It’s in the crust, it’s in their award-winning mac and cheese and it’s also in their tap lines — along with 21 other beers. The pies are crafted to complement the vast beer offerings, satisfying pizza purists and those looking for something off the beaten path. Aside from the beer and Il Mondo Vecchio-sourced sausages, everything at Hops & Pie is made in house.
The Watson’s favorite pairings? “Pepperoni and West Coast IPA,” says Drew, “Or a good firkin of Left Hand’s Smoke Jumper with smoked pork jalapeno pizza.” Leah leans towards an Oskar Blues’ Gubna, Odell Myrcenary, or Firestone Walker Double Jack with a cheese, basil and jalapeno pie. Undoubtedly, there’s a selection for everyone — be it gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, or meat lover — no matter how you take your beer or your ‘za.
Written By Jess Hunter, Eater Denver Contributor