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A flight at Baere Brewing Company
A flight at Baere Brewing Company.
Ruth Tobias

Denver’s Essential Breweries Right Now, Summer 2022

Whether established or emerging, these breweries are defining the craft beer scene

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A flight at Baere Brewing Company.
| Ruth Tobias

Of the 400-plus breweries in the state of Colorado (the fifth-highest number in the country as of 2021), more than one-quarter are located in the Denver area alone. While that makes for a lot of ground to cover, this map is designed to help intrepid beer drinkers get cracking, covering as it does both the cornerstones of the scene and exciting newcomers that are contributing to its evolution while representing a range of styles, vibes, and neighborhoods.

Because there’s so much to explore within metro boundaries, what follows — organized geographically from north to south — does not include the many noteworthy contenders based in Boulder County, Fort Collins, and beyond. Check out our 38 Essential Colorado Breweries as a guide to some of them, including heavy hitters like New Belgium, Odell, and Oskar Blues (all of which have satellite taprooms in town) as well as Left Hand, Avery, WeldWerks, and more. A few others of note are Glenwood Springs’ Casey Brewing & Blending, Louisville’s Crystal Springs Brewing Co., Idaho Springs’ Westbound & Down Brewing Company, Lafayette’s Cellar West Artisan Ales, and Loveland’s Verboten Brewing & Barrel Project.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

4 Noses Brewing Company

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The Bibliowicz family credits their “busy schnozzes” with both the name and the success of this Broomfield brewery (with a Denver sibling on the way), whose eclectic lineup is clearly the result of curious minds: On any given visit, a Puffed Jasmine Rice Lager might await next to The Real Dill Michelada infused with Bloody Mary mix and pickle brine next to a Creamsicle Velvet Milkshake IPA brewed with tangerine, mango, orange, and vanilla. And the food trucks on rotation are equally intriguing, from Pho King Rapidos to Temaki Tornado. (It’s worth noting that the Bibliowiczes also operate Odd13 in Lafayette and Wild Provisions Beer Project in Boulder.)

4 Noses Brewing Company Four Noses

Bruz Beers

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This Midtown destination (with a second location in Cheesman Park) excels at a wide range of Belgian styles. Come for the Nelson Sauvin grisette or spelt-centric saison Till the Earth; stay for the Tarax, a farmhouse ale brewed with dandelions, or the Raspberry Tripel; leave with a bottle of the Flanders brown ale Roodbruin or the whiskey barrel–aged sour quadrupel Redwood Grand.

Bruz Beers Bruz Beers

Crooked Stave Denver Taproom

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Crooked Stave built its widely acclaimed name on wild and sour beers, and though founder Chad Yakobson — who wrote his master’s thesis on Brettanomyces — has branched out some since its opening in 2010, they serve as an obvious starting point for anyone new to its lineup. Oak-aged with raspberries and blueberries, the Sour Rosé counts among its monster hits; so does the whiskey barrel–aged dark sour Nightmare on Brett. Seasonal releases, meanwhile, range from Lemon-Ginger Fruited Sour to Koko Loko, a barleywine aged in coconut-rum barrels.

Station 26 Brewing Co.

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The home of blockbusters like Juicy Banger IPA and Tangerine Cream ale as well as 2022 World Beer Cup gold medalist Swift Half Cold IPA, this Park Hill occupant of an old fire station has been a neighborhood go-to for eight years and counting, complete with a food truck schedule and live music on some weekends.

Station 26 Brewing Co. Ruth Tobias

Cannonball Creek Brewing Company

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Never mind the T-shirts that promise “the best beer you will ever drink in a 7-11 parking lot”: This Golden retreat’s actual claims to fame far outstrip that modest boast, what with some 14 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) medals to show for its nine years in operation (it also took gold for its Trump Hands Session IPA at this year’s World Beer Cup). Besides, the styles it brews whisk its fans far beyond its suburban strip-mall environs: Think Mexican lager, Italian pilsner, Russian imperial stout, and Belgian blonde in a single flight.

Cannonball Creek Brewing Company
Ruth Tobias

River North Brewery - Blake Street Taproom

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Starting as a mostly Belgian-style house, this RiNo heavyweight has evolved over its 10 years in business to wow crowds with a little bit of everything, from kettle sours like Blackberry Raspberry Soirée to witbier White — though its robust barrel-aging program may be the key to its soul and its enduring popularity, yielding barleywines, quadrupels, imperial stouts, and more.

Beers at River North Brewery

Bierstadt Lagerhaus

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A 90-year-old German brew kettle powers this long-admired adherent to the Reinheitsgebot (“purity order”) process, which ensures lager lovers are getting exactly the pils, helles, and dunkel they ask for, no more and no less. Unless, that is, they do ask for more, in which case they’re also getting special releases like collaboration kölsches and porters, cocktails, pretzels — and an adult playground in RiNo to savor them all in, complete with cornhole, life-size Connect 4, and other games; live music and bingo nights; events like live wrestling and rugby watch parties; and the list goes on.

BIERSTADT Lagerhaus Adam Larkey

Ratio Beerworks

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With a new satellite taproom in Overland, this RiNo staple is more than a brewery, it’s a community hub, hosting events such as comedy shows and release parties with live music as well as food trucks on the regular. In that come-one-come-all spirit, it brews a wide range of styles; though it’s arguably best known for saisons like the much-awarded Dear You and carrot- and elderflower-infused King of Carrot Flowers as well as its barrel-aged imperial stout Genius Wizard, it took home a gold at last year’s GABF for its American standard ale Domestica.

Ratio Beerworks Adam Larkey Photography

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company

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Opening in 2012, this RiNo pioneer continues to pack the house day and night thanks to crowd-pleasers like Verbena Paradiso, a salty, tangy gose brewed with lemon verbena; Biere Ovale, a foeder-fermented, mixed-culture brett saison that took a silver at the 2021 GABF; Optics and Design, a dry rye Irish stout featuring malted rye from Leopold Bros.; the Tahitian vanilla bomb that is The Big Expense, a collaboration barleywine; and plenty more.

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company Ruth Tobias

Denver Beer Co Platte Street

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It’s expanded to three locations since its establishment in 2011, but the colorful Platte Street flagship is still a must-visit for not only its high-energy vibe indoors and out — luring drinkers all day long with food trucks, board games, and sunshine — but also the fact that it’s really two breweries in one, what with Mexican-inspired sibling Cervecería Colorado right next door. On one side are the beers that built this mini-empire — raspberry kölsch Princess Yum Yum, juicy IPA Juicy Freak, Graham Cracker Porter — and on the other, beers that are pushing its boundaries such as Poblano Pils (a GABF silver medalist in 2020) and Churro Stout.

Denver Beer Co Courtesy of Denver Beer Co

Hogshead Brewery

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In the British tradition, expertly cask-conditioned ales star at this tiny taproom on the border of Sloan Lake and West Highland: For the full experience, sample a flight that includes Chin Wag Extra Special Bitter and Gilpin Black Gold London Porter while taking in a soccer match on the big screen.

Hogshead Brewery Ruth Tobias

Spangalang Brewery

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Named for a famous cymbal rhythm in tribute to the neighborhood’s musical past, this jazz-themed Five Points retreat presents a taplist that’s equivalent to an album of standards: Expect highly proficient takes on familiar styles, such as the summery The Nickel American Lager or the D-Train West Coast IPA, plus a few twists like the saison-sour hybrid Funky Fresh.

Spangalang Brewery Ruth Tobias

Great Divide Brewing Co

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Opening in 1994, this Ballpark pioneer (which now boasts three satellite taprooms, including the Barrel Bar in RiNo) helped put Colorado on the national craft-brewing map with such now-iconic beers as Denver Pale Ale, Colette Farmhouse Ale, and above all Yeti Imperial Stout. But there’s always plenty more in the pipeline, from Roadie Grapefruit Radler and Margarita Gose to the 2021 GABF silver medalist Wild Raspberry Ale.

Lady Justice Brewing Company

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“Great beer, better world”: That’s the slogan of this Colfax taproom run by three AmeriCorps alumni, who donate 100% of proceeds over cost from their CSB (community-supported brewery) memberships to nonprofits such as Aurora Community Connection while hosting regular events that further support a range of social causes. Drink well, do good over a round of Liberty American Lager or Sandra Day IPA.

Lady Justice Brewing Company Ruth Tobias

Cerebral Brewing

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A true brewers’ brewery, this Congress Park fixture — with a second location soon slated for Aurora — is highly respected in the community for its experimental bent. Hazy IPAs like Rare Trait and Burner Phone (“with a dankness that could get your phone tapped”) are its specialty, though its hallmark precision and flair show in everything from the juicy mixed-fermentation saison Ambiguous Vibes to the barrel-aged imperial stout Safe Word, aged upwards of two years in bourbon casks and conditioned on cacao nibs, toasted coconut, and cassia bark.

Pint of Cerebral beer Sean Buchan

Raíces Brewing Company

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With a spacious, mural-splashed taproom and patio that regularly hosts food trucks, artisan vendors, live music, lotéria games, and more, this “reference center for those interested in learning about Latin culture” also happens to be a damn fine brewery. Subtlety is its forte even in showier pours like the coffee blonde ale called Cafecito, the chile-spiked Cosecha, and the mango-infused Manguito.

Raíces Brewing Company Ruth Tobias

Strange Craft Beer Company

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What started as Denver’s first nanobrewery has expanded over the course of 12 years in business, but it remains an exemplar of the fiercely scrappy local taproom culture it helped to nurture. While Cherry Kriek, Breakfast Grapefruit IPA, and Dr. Strangelove Barleywine count among its signatures, the friendly crew here might also, depending on the season, be pouring the likes of Belgian Chocolate Love Stout, Buddha’s Hand Sour, or a collaboration Carrot Cake Cream Ale.

Wah Gwaan Brewing Company

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For an ultra-refreshing change of pace, hit this Jamaican-inspired taproom in the Santa Fe Arts District: Here a tripel might come judiciously infused with sorrel (hibiscus), a Belgian red with tamarind, a sour with mango and ginger, and — perhaps best of all — a rauchbier with jerk seasoning for a smoky, spicy sensation.

Wah Gwaan Brewing Company Ruth Tobias

Baere Brewing Company

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Baere bills itself on Instagram as “a nice little craft brewery making small batches in a shake shingle covered strip mall in the dust bowl of Broadway,” which is technically true but a bit of an undersell. With some 16 offerings on tap (plus a boozy fruit slushie), it does a little of everything with a whole lot of finesse: a sour brewed with plums and an amber infused with chiles, smoked pineapple, carrot, and ginger here; the barleywine-inspired, barrel-aged brett beer Four Grains in the Brain and the crisp-as-could-be So Many Bongs West Coast IPA in collaboration with Jagged Mountain there.

Baere Brewing Company Ruth Tobias

Burns Family Artisan Ales

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An emphasis on high-gravity beers distinguishes this Valverde venture from respected brewer Wayne Burns and his partner Laura Worley: Stout fans in particular will have a field day here. But everything is exceedingly well made, recent examples being the Geneˆlogical V9, a wild ale with blackberries and clover, and the tangy, toasty imperial dark Saison Postulate.

Burns Family Artisan Ales Ruth Tobias

TRVE Brewing Company

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Beloved equally for its heavy metal theme and its experimental streak especially with respect to mixed-culture fermentation, this Baker brewery dares you to knock back the likes of Bloodaxe (a Nordic ale with orange peel and grains of paradise); Doom Scroll (a dunkelweizen); or Hellion (an oat pale ale). Bonus points for appropriately pairing those devilish-sounding pours with spicy eats from onsite purveyor Music City Hot Chicken.

Novel Strand Brewing Company

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Though two of its three owners hail from the Dominican Republic and Israel, respectively, local pride is in Novel Strand’s DNA: Not only does it share a Baker space with Queen City Collective Coffee, but it regularly works with Colorado ingredients, features collaborations with other area breweries, and so on. Especially charming examples include the Poquito Más, a decidedly funky sour fermented with Cabernet Sauvignon pomace from Balistreri Vineyards, and the coriander-infused witbier Nitwit made with malt from Fort Collins.

Novel Strand Brewing Company Ruth Tobias

Dos Luces Brewery

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And now for something completely different: This South Broadway taproom specializes in Peruvian chicha and Mexican pulque, brewed respectively from blue corn and maguey sap, as well as tepache, another Mexican beverage made with pineapple and cinnamon. It’s a whole New World, caps intended, to discover; don’t be afraid to ask questions about the history of these styles and their variants.

Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales

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The name says it all: Expect the experimental here, namely in wild-fermented sours of all kinds — be it the elegant Maven with orange, cranberry, and vanilla or the funky, multifaceted Blackbird, a gueuze blending one-, two-, three-, and four-year-old spontaneous ales. Not into the house style? Black Project also fills guest taps with IPAs like Outer Range’s West Coast–style Mountain Mirror; Copper Kettle’s F.I.G.J.A.M., a fig-infused dubbel; and more.

Black Project Brewery & Craft Beer Bar Ruth Tobias

Comrade Brewing Company

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At eight years old, the 2019 GABF Small Brewing Company of the Year has numerous other festival awards to its credit, most notably for Superpower — one of many IPAs it offers at any given time, from Salvo Door Dolly to More Dodge Less Ram. Other favorites include the jalapeño-infused blonde ale Yellow Fever, the seasonal Koffee Kream milk stout, and the imperial stout Quit Stalin.

Sampler of Comrade beer Ruth Tobias

Dry Dock Brewing Co - South Dock

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Starting as an outgrowth of a brewing-supply store, Aurora’s first craft brewery has gone on to become one of Denver’s foremost producers, with two locations and more than 20 GABF medals to its name. While its Apricot Blonde is perhaps its top claim to fame, the Vanilla Porter and Bligh’s Barleywine are other highlights, as are weekly special releases at the South Dock such as Chile Wit and Chocolate-Covered Banana Porter.

Dry Dock Brewing Co - South Dock Ruth Tobias

Jade Mountain Brewing Company

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Coming to Aurora by way of Huzhou, China, this strip-mall sleeper doesn’t brew a thing that isn’t laced with faraway intrigue: Consider Ramen Fury, a savory rice lager infused with ramen noodles, oyster sauce, and Thai chilies in collaboration with Jagged Mountain. Or the Run D.M.Z., a refreshingly tangy kimchi-cucumber sour. Or the lightly spicy, sweet-and-sour gose called Pineapple Fried Rice. Or even Guan Yu, a Sichuan peppercorn–spiked stout. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in town.

Jade Mountain Brewing Company Ruth Tobias

4 Noses Brewing Company

4 Noses Brewing Company Four Noses

The Bibliowicz family credits their “busy schnozzes” with both the name and the success of this Broomfield brewery (with a Denver sibling on the way), whose eclectic lineup is clearly the result of curious minds: On any given visit, a Puffed Jasmine Rice Lager might await next to The Real Dill Michelada infused with Bloody Mary mix and pickle brine next to a Creamsicle Velvet Milkshake IPA brewed with tangerine, mango, orange, and vanilla. And the food trucks on rotation are equally intriguing, from Pho King Rapidos to Temaki Tornado. (It’s worth noting that the Bibliowiczes also operate Odd13 in Lafayette and Wild Provisions Beer Project in Boulder.)

4 Noses Brewing Company Four Noses

Bruz Beers

Bruz Beers Bruz Beers

This Midtown destination (with a second location in Cheesman Park) excels at a wide range of Belgian styles. Come for the Nelson Sauvin grisette or spelt-centric saison Till the Earth; stay for the Tarax, a farmhouse ale brewed with dandelions, or the Raspberry Tripel; leave with a bottle of the Flanders brown ale Roodbruin or the whiskey barrel–aged sour quadrupel Redwood Grand.

Bruz Beers Bruz Beers

Crooked Stave Denver Taproom

Crooked Stave built its widely acclaimed name on wild and sour beers, and though founder Chad Yakobson — who wrote his master’s thesis on Brettanomyces — has branched out some since its opening in 2010, they serve as an obvious starting point for anyone new to its lineup. Oak-aged with raspberries and blueberries, the Sour Rosé counts among its monster hits; so does the whiskey barrel–aged dark sour Nightmare on Brett. Seasonal releases, meanwhile, range from Lemon-Ginger Fruited Sour to Koko Loko, a barleywine aged in coconut-rum barrels.

Station 26 Brewing Co.

Station 26 Brewing Co. Ruth Tobias

The home of blockbusters like Juicy Banger IPA and Tangerine Cream ale as well as 2022 World Beer Cup gold medalist Swift Half Cold IPA, this Park Hill occupant of an old fire station has been a neighborhood go-to for eight years and counting, complete with a food truck schedule and live music on some weekends.

Station 26 Brewing Co. Ruth Tobias

Cannonball Creek Brewing Company

Cannonball Creek Brewing Company
Ruth Tobias

Never mind the T-shirts that promise “the best beer you will ever drink in a 7-11 parking lot”: This Golden retreat’s actual claims to fame far outstrip that modest boast, what with some 14 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) medals to show for its nine years in operation (it also took gold for its Trump Hands Session IPA at this year’s World Beer Cup). Besides, the styles it brews whisk its fans far beyond its suburban strip-mall environs: Think Mexican lager, Italian pilsner, Russian imperial stout, and Belgian blonde in a single flight.

Cannonball Creek Brewing Company
Ruth Tobias

River North Brewery - Blake Street Taproom

Beers at River North Brewery

Starting as a mostly Belgian-style house, this RiNo heavyweight has evolved over its 10 years in business to wow crowds with a little bit of everything, from kettle sours like Blackberry Raspberry Soirée to witbier White — though its robust barrel-aging program may be the key to its soul and its enduring popularity, yielding barleywines, quadrupels, imperial stouts, and more.

Beers at River North Brewery

Bierstadt Lagerhaus

BIERSTADT Lagerhaus Adam Larkey

A 90-year-old German brew kettle powers this long-admired adherent to the Reinheitsgebot (“purity order”) process, which ensures lager lovers are getting exactly the pils, helles, and dunkel they ask for, no more and no less. Unless, that is, they do ask for more, in which case they’re also getting special releases like collaboration kölsches and porters, cocktails, pretzels — and an adult playground in RiNo to savor them all in, complete with cornhole, life-size Connect 4, and other games; live music and bingo nights; events like live wrestling and rugby watch parties; and the list goes on.

BIERSTADT Lagerhaus Adam Larkey

Ratio Beerworks

Ratio Beerworks Adam Larkey Photography

With a new satellite taproom in Overland, this RiNo staple is more than a brewery, it’s a community hub, hosting events such as comedy shows and release parties with live music as well as food trucks on the regular. In that come-one-come-all spirit, it brews a wide range of styles; though it’s arguably best known for saisons like the much-awarded Dear You and carrot- and elderflower-infused King of Carrot Flowers as well as its barrel-aged imperial stout Genius Wizard, it took home a gold at last year’s GABF for its American standard ale Domestica.

Ratio Beerworks Adam Larkey Photography

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company Ruth Tobias

Opening in 2012, this RiNo pioneer continues to pack the house day and night thanks to crowd-pleasers like Verbena Paradiso, a salty, tangy gose brewed with lemon verbena; Biere Ovale, a foeder-fermented, mixed-culture brett saison that took a silver at the 2021 GABF; Optics and Design, a dry rye Irish stout featuring malted rye from Leopold Bros.; the Tahitian vanilla bomb that is The Big Expense, a collaboration barleywine; and plenty more.

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company Ruth Tobias

Denver Beer Co Platte Street

Denver Beer Co Courtesy of Denver Beer Co

It’s expanded to three locations since its establishment in 2011, but the colorful Platte Street flagship is still a must-visit for not only its high-energy vibe indoors and out — luring drinkers all day long with food trucks, board games, and sunshine — but also the fact that it’s really two breweries in one, what with Mexican-inspired sibling Cervecería Colorado right next door. On one side are the beers that built this mini-empire — raspberry kölsch Princess Yum Yum, juicy IPA Juicy Freak, Graham Cracker Porter — and on the other, beers that are pushing its boundaries such as Poblano Pils (a GABF silver medalist in 2020) and Churro Stout.

Denver Beer Co Courtesy of Denver Beer Co

Hogshead Brewery

Hogshead Brewery Ruth Tobias

In the British tradition, expertly cask-conditioned ales star at this tiny taproom on the border of Sloan Lake and West Highland: For the full experience, sample a flight that includes Chin Wag Extra Special Bitter and Gilpin Black Gold London Porter while taking in a soccer match on the big screen.