Sep 18, 2018


January, 2000

By Bobby Bush

Wow! The final hours of an exhilarating, whirlwind trip through Denver, west to Vail and back again is just about to come to an end, well at least the Colorado portion is. Tomorrow morning would find me on a plane to Las Vegas, just to slow down a bit.

But time was a-wasting, Denver nightfall was near, so I decided to try my luck at Breckenridge Brewery and BBQ, which opened in June 1997, seven years after the original brewpub in micro and just a few miles from the LoDo section where Denver Breckenridge brewpub resides. Really a microbrewery with a small, rough but ready pub, called The Tasting Room, and some pretty darn good barbecued pork, chicken, brisket, sausage and smoked turkey, the many-barrel Breckenridge Brewery and BBQ is the workhorse of the Breckenridge Brewery organization. Kegs for distribution and bottled case after case of their mainline brews - Mountain Wheat, India Pale Ale, Avalanche and Oatmeal Stout - emanate from this big brick structure for distribution almost nationwide.

Breckenridge’s Corporate Offices are also on site. The Tasting Room, with large picture windows to observe the brewery, is after a hometown crowd. The room has a homey feel, bar stools for eight and table space for about 50. Tuesdays serve all-you-can-eat ribs. Ski poles serve as tap handles for the regular beers as well as specialty brands like Raspberry Porter (raspberry-mocha that turns annoyingly sweet after five or sax sips). Seasonals scheduled for other times of the year include Ballpark Brown, Autumn Ale and Christmas Ale. All are easily drinkable and well made, as four GABF wall plaques attest. See more information.

I’d heard nothing but good things about Falling Rock Tap House and an amazing selection of beer. Even their motto - “No Crap On Tap” - struck a soft spot in this ol’ beer boy’s heart. So it was with much anticipation that I found my way into the unassuming LoDo establishment, plopped my big butt in front of a beer menu and introduced myself to proprietor Chris Black, whose business card lists his title as “King.” I wasn’t about to argue. He had the beer. There were 75 tap handles scattered over the back bar. I’m not quibbling just because one was root beer. Some joker was drinking Coors and orange juice (what a waste of citrus) as I studied the list on the wall of newly arrived beers such as Oasis Zoser Stout, Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus, Mr. Hoppy, H.C. Berger Mountain Kolsch, Bristol Winter Warlock, Rockyard Rye P.A. and O’Dells Pale Ale. There were plenty of bottled beers, micro and import, as well. One cask conditioned ale, Phantom Canyon IPA, was ready for the asking. A table card advertised an upcoming Barleywine Dinner with an astonishing selection of those potent, malty strong ales. I was in heaven.

Between my conversation with fellow beer-head/bartender Black and constantly wrenching my neck to scan the multi-colored tap handles and bottles, I have no idea what I drank. Next time I’m in Denver, one full day will be dedicated to the nooks and crannies (and beer cellar) of Falling Rock. See and you’ll see why.

Burnout was coming soon. I could feel it in my fingers. I could feel it in my toes. But the night was still relatively young, so I slipped over to Denver Chophouse. Part of the Rock Bottom chain, this busy brewpub, circa 1995, is one of my favorite places to eat and drink in Denver. But instead of food I placed my last dollar on a sampler tray and came up a winner. Of the six draft and three cask beers, most memorable were a malty Doppel Bock, a cask Bourbon Stout (mouthwatering bourbon meets cream stout flavor) and the frothy cask Red Wing whose warm thick mouth was unusually malty.

Fifteen brewpubs, one micro, one tap house, the silhouette of behemoth Coors; all in three fun-filled days. Denver is a good place to get lost in, for at least a week. But now it’s on to the real city that never sleeps, Las Vegas. Zzzzzz.

(This article continues in Lost Wages).

This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.

© Bobby Bush


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