Colorado is third in the US for the number of breweries. For craft beer lovers, its capital city is nirvana. Belly up to the bar at Wynkoop’s to peruse the day’s selections and you might just start making plans to extend your trip. More beer is brewed in Denver than in any other American city, including nationally recognized brands like Oskar Blues and the behemoth Coors — the world’s biggest brewery. Denver is host to the Great American Beer Festival, the place where the industry hands out its highest honors. Get the most out of your beer-fuelled visit with our guide to Denver Breweries!
Join a tour…
The fast and easy way to get a good sampling of the local microbrew scene is to sign up for a tour with a company like Banjo Billy’s, the Denver Brews Cruise, the Colorado Brewery Bus, or the Denver Microbrew Tour. Prices range from $29 to $60 depending on the transportation and what kind of brewery samples are included.
…Or just make your own tour!
You can arrange your own tour and save a few bucks though by putting on some good walking shoes and utilizing Denver’s free 16th Street Mall bus. When it’s time to head wherever your temporary home is, you can catch the four-line light rail system or get the pub to call you a cab.
Many of downtown Denver’s breweries are located quite close to each other. Here’s a brewery and brewpub walking tour that takes advantage of a cluster of them. You can do this tour in the order here, or reverse it if you’re already staying somewhere close to Union Station. If you hit the 3:00 or 4:00 daily brewery tour at the two big ones that offer free tours, you’re bound to find some happy hour deals along the way.
Let’s begin at the Great Divide
Go back to the early days of Denver’s microbrew scene at Great Divide Brewery, which will be celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year. The brewery provides 30-minute tours daily with a tasting pulled from their wide array of styles. Check their site for the schedule:
Climb the Jagged Mountain
Go two blocks southwest on Arapahoe Street, then right one block on 20th to Jagged Mountain Brewery. They have a dozen or so flavors available in their tap room, from the Zero Gravity Saison style beer to the Barrel Aged First Descent, which is definitely made for sipping (alcohol by volume of 15.5 percent).
Hit Rock Bottom
Retrace your steps back to Arapahoe Street and head southwest again for four blocks. Go left and to the 16th Street Mall bus. Near Coors Field baseball stadium at 22nd Street Mall building on your left you’ll find the Rock Bottom Brewery. It’s a worthy stop because the company started in downtown Denver and after a pint or sampling here, you can give your feet a rest by hopping on the free 16th Street bus.
Visit the first of many
Take the bus six blocks northwest to Wynkoop Street, which houses the great Wynkoop’s Brewery two blocks northeast at 18th founded in 1988 as the city’s first brewpub by John Hickenlooper, who went on to become mayor and then governor. In the tap room with pool tables, you’ll always find something interesting to taste from the 12 to 15 varieties brewed on site. Come back the next day at 3:00 or 4:00 and take a tour of the brewery, sampling the styles you may have missed.
Who doesn’t love happy hour?
If you still have some stamina left, continue one more block to Wynkoop and 19th you’ll find a historic building with columns that looks way too nice for a bar. It’s the Denver ChopHouse and Brewery. If you’ve managed to make it here before 7:00, you’ll find happy hour prices on nine styles, including a Dortmunder Lager. There’s another branch at the Denver airport for one last sampling before you leave.
For more information, see the beer section of the Denver Tourism site, where you’ll also find links to the tour companies and individual breweries. If you have some time and some wheels, see the listings in Boulder and Longmont for more options.