By Bobby Bush
We started this particular beer journey in Denver at Pintís Pub. Probably the smallest
brewpub in the Mile High City, this very-English pub was voted 1998ís Best Brewpub by
the readers of Westworld, a local nightlife tabloid. Accompanied by a variety of piped-in
music- from opera to bagpipes to Beatles -our fish Ďn chips lunch went down well with
Pintís Pubís six house brews. The reddish-brown ESB-style Dark Star Ale and Lancer
IPA, hoppy but not obnoxiously so, were the two cask offerings. The mild Phonebox
Amber, hoppy Airedale Pale Ale, creamy headed Alchemy ESB and Scottish Export style,
i.e. malty sweet, Gael Force Ale were entirely quaffable.
Pintís Pub also features an extensive list of imports, including several Fullers ales,
Felinfoel, Newcastle, Guinness, Boddington Pale Ale and Tennent. And, as if there wasnít
enough going on in this small bar, the single malt scotch whiskey menu features over 100
different choices, including one at $65 per shot. Pintís claims to have the largest selection
in the US.
Leaving imports and whiskeys behind, but departing with fond memories of the
smooth Dark Star, we left, in search of another Denver brewpub.
Itís hard to believe that a city as profoundly versed in craft beer as Denver is- 15
brewpubs, not counting suburbs or microbreweries -would have room for one more. But
there, in the southside warehouse district not far from Breckenridge Breweryís
microbrewery/keg/bottle operation, we found a brand new brewpub. Heavenly Daze
Warehouse Brewery & Bar is a sprawling complex incorporating two dining areas, a
long bar, a 30 barrel brewing system and a 1962 vintage bottling line that perviously
packaged olive oil.
Open since June 1998, there are 14 televisions, four Ventura pro pool tables and
nine most excellent brews. But letís review a little history before the fun. Named for a ski
run that terminates at the brewpub, the original Heavenly Daze opened in 1991 in
Steamboat Springs, CO. Owned by the Crider brothers, sibling Pete is responsible for the
Denver franchise. His brewer is Rick Whitehouse, who formerly worked as brewer for
Breckenridge. Rick was pushed for time, but spent a few minutes talking about his
brewery and beers. With an annual capacity of 7,000 barrels and nine fermentation tanks,
he has plenty of capacity to be creative. The seasonal Winter Heat Strong Ale, which
revealed strong alcohol power (9% by volume) and biting sweetness, is a Belgian-style ale
boosted by 350 pounds of candi sugar in the boil. Whitehouse keeps three yeasts in
propagation, which assists in style flexibility.
Other Heavenly Daze beers proved just as enticing. Thin but flavorful, Sunrise
Rye Ale was golden clean, departing with short bitterness. Crafted from five malts, wheat
and oatmeal, Colorado Cream Ale presented a fruity body and sweet finish. The quick
berry taste of Raspberry Wheat evolved into a nasty koolaid aftertaste, while the Munich
Red left a suggestive burnt caramel flavor. The six malt recipe of Dogs Breath Brown
was balanced by proper hopping. Steamboat Scottish was out-of-balance, decidedly too
malty and marginally medicinal. Back on track, Paramount Porter was medium- medium
body, medium roast flavor, mildly bitter with a tinge of harshness mid-taste. Though
dry-hopped, Backpacker IPA could have used more bittering and hops flavor. All-in-all,
good beer, definitely something for everyone.
Only time will tell if Heavenly Daze can make it on the low-traffic south side of
Denver. My fingers are crossed.
[Note, both Heavenly Daze closed in late 1999. The Denver brewpub re-opened in mid-2000 with new owners].
We had time for one more quick stop before heading to higher elevations. Just
because we hadnít been there in a while, downtownís Rock Bottom Brewery was our
destination. Open since November 1991, this Rock Bottom was the Boulder-based
chainís first out of town brewpub venture. Back about 1994, I noticed a de-emphasis in
beer and deterioration of beer quality. Iím happy to report that brewmaster Debbie
Svoboda seems to have a better grip on the brewing side. Her cask Pale, though colder
than it should have been, was cloudy gold and brimming with pale ale taste. In
comparison, the Falcon Pale Ale was thinner and less hoppy, just what was expected.
Black Diamond Stout was also a winner; rich, full bodied and roasted flavor, close to
Imperial style and close to perfection.
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush