gabf: where to get your grub and sud on 2018

Posted on: September 18, 2018

In the grand tradition of only updating my GABF selections three times a decade, here are my updated choices of places to visit while enjoying GABF 2018!

These are updates to my posts GABF: holy crap it’s been another year and GABF: so I guess we are here again – both of which contain my past (and still solid) suggestions for taphouses, breweries, and noms in the Front Range area.

Colorado has so much to offer when it comes to eating and drinking – don’t just limit yourself around the Convention Center or Downtown Denver; between Lyft, the light rail, and buses, you have plenty of opportunity to at least get out into the outer fringes of Denver, if not beyond. Colorado was founded on the pioneering spirit – so go out and have an adventure!

Great Taphouses

  • Goed Zuur, Denver. The sour bar to end all sour bars, Goed Zuur has an extensive and impressive selection of sour and wild beers from around the world, including beers difficult to find outside of their home brewery, state, or country. Goed Zuur also serves up beautiful charcuterie trays, a butter flight, and ramen on Sundays (you’ll need it this Sunday). Be forewarned – you’ll leave with a happy heart and belly, but a lighter wallet as there is just so much good to be had.

Great Breweries

  • Bruz Beers, Denver. Bruz is offering up some of the most authentic Belgian-style beers west of De Panne. Brewmaster and co-owner Charlie Gottenkieny is the king of Belgian styles with over a hundred competition metals, two AHA Homebrewer of the Year awards, and a nationally recognized beer judge and beer educator. Along with his fellow brewers, they are putting out sublime Belgian-style beers from Hellraiser Belgian Golden Strong Ale (my personal favorite) to a variety of saisons, strong ales, Trappists, and experimental brews. They embrace all that is wonderful about Belgian beer and do their best not to muck it up.
  • Jessup Farm Barrel House, Fort Collins. A really cool, unique location putting out consistently interesting, delicious beers. You can find some of their beers on tap or in bottles in Denver, but it’s worth the trip to Fort Collins.
  • Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Denver. Authentic German-style lagers brewed in a shared space with C-Squared Ciders and the Rackhouse pub. Right now they have their excellent märzen on tap for Oktoberfest alongside their year-round standards. You can’t lose regardless of what you try.
  • Green Mountain Beer, Lakewood. One of Colorado’s many, many neighborhood breweries looking mostly to cater to the immediate area offering comfortable digs and great beers. Their märzen and schwartzbier are outstanding at the moment.
  • Primitive Beer, Longmont. Primitive is one of the few brewery openings I’ve been to this year where I’ve been truly excited about the beer and the concept. Utilizing a coolship and barreling, they are producing “Méthode Traditionnelle” beers, aka lambic-style, still beer. Their beers are available either through hand pulls or in a box (yes – a box!) I even made a video giving folks a taste of their boxed beers. Usually they are only open two Saturdays a month, but during GABF they have more extensive hours, so check their Facebook.
  • Cannonball Creek, Golden. How have I never mentioned them before!? Cannonball Creek is another neighborhood brewery putting out world-class beer (with the medals to prove it). If you’re looking for a break from the sea of hazy/New England-style IPAs, Cannonball is a required stop. Their Trump Hands Session IPA and Featherweight Pale are two of my personal favorites. (They always have at least one gluten-reduced beer on tap – so ask!)
  • Diebolt, Denver. Diebolt is taking a unique approach to brewing, focusing primarily on French and French-colonial beers and brewing traditions. They just celebrated their fifth anniversary and you can find their Reunion Gose with gray French sea salt and pink peppercorns on tap, a great end of summer treat. Their Magdalena Double IPA is a great, lighter DIPA for those looking to be able to maintain their sense of taste.
  • Metric, Colorado Springs. A brand new brewery putting out a wide array of well-crafted beers in a cool spot in the Springs. Their brewer and co-owner, Chase Perry, is a microbiologist who worked for BSI as well as other breweries prior to opening Metric and his beers reflect his pedigree. Check them out before they get big – because they will if they continue along this path.
  • 105 West, Castle Rock. You can usually tell when a brewery was started by someone familiar with the industry – more refined beers from day one, solid branding, a defined focus. All of these are true of 105 West, which redefined beer in Castle Rock when they opened in 2015 with Kjell Wygant, a professional brewer, and Eric Seufert, owner of the local homebrew shop, at their helm. They are a gratuity-free brewery, donating any extra funds to local causes. They always offer a wide variety of brews, but Jelly the Elder DIPA and Chocolate Booze Cake are particularly good right now. If you can, try to taste their Deez Nutz – it’s got a cult following for a reason. (The majority of their beers are gluten-reduced).
  • Burly, Castle Rock. Burly opened about a mile from 105 West, making it an easy twofer for great beer. Opening early this year, Burly already has two dozen+ beers on draft. They have managed to balance the experimental with the traditional and really the ground running with solid quality throughout. Their Vienna Lager is a great light-drinker, but I particularly like their Hey Porter! Let Me Ryed rye porter for it’s unique take on the style.
  • CO-Brew, Denver. You would never expect to find such sublime beers in such an unassuming home brew shop on Broadway, but here we are. Not only does CO-Brew make their own beer, but they offer the ability for nearby apartment dwellers (and anyone else) to come in and brew their own beer on their home brew setups. It’s a great concept and it is carried off with aplomb. Their Meyer Lemon Gose is inappropriately good as is any chili beer they choose to make.

Previous mention updates: 

  • Big Choice now has a kitchen serving pizza and has moved to a much larger building in Brighton.
  • Paradox finally opened their Divide location, which has some of the best views in Colorado and has a small provisions kitchen.
  • Shine no longer brews, but you can find their health shots at their new location in Boulder and at health food shops around the Front Range.
  • Happy Leaf Kombucha has moved to Edgewater, where they have a small taproom serving their wares.

Great Distilleries

Colorado has become a destination for spirits, as well as beer. Of the over 50 Colorado distilleries we have visited, here are some standouts from along the Front Range.

  • Bear Creek, Denver. While I love their rye vodka and Yeti barrel whiskey, their cocktails elevate their spirits to another level. The Red Panda is unique and great for those who love bloody marys, but don’t want another meal. I also like their Dalmatian, which I always ask for with just a touch more black pepper simple syrup.
  • Devil’s Head, Englewood. The only place we’ve visited that is primarily focusing on aquavit, a Scandinavian spirit distilled with caraway seeds. They are making a large selection of flavored aquavits and vodkas, all made by hand with high-quality ingredients. It can be a bit hard to find as it’s tucked back off of Broadway down a side-street, but it’s worth the tiny adventure.
  • Black Bear, Green Mountain Falls. From tiny adventure to bigger adventure, Black Bear is located between Manitou Springs and Woodland Park, so is a great stop on your way from Manitou Brewing to Paradox Beer. They are located in an old cabin-style restaurant with the second-largest fireplace in Colorado – and it’s constructed out of petrified wood! The space itself is so effortlessly old west, and without cell service, you’ll forget that it’s 2018. They distill several products, but their Irish-style whiskey is the shining star – and they are the only ones making the style outside of Ireland. They do require scheduled tours and tastings, so make sure to give them a shout before heading out.

Great Noms

  • Blue Pan Pizza, Denver. There are so many great pizza places in Denver, but Blue Pan is doing up Detroit-style pie right. If you like cheese and pepperoni, this is your spot.
  • Fire on the Mountain, Denver. Wings are one of my absolute favorite foods, and so few places do them right. Often, they are too big, so they don’t get nice and crispy and can be chewy on the inside, and the sauce can be all over the map. FOTM is using humanely raise chickens that produce smaller appentages, resulting in crisper wings where the meat comes easily off the bone. They offer 12+ different sauces that you can taste before you order, so you get exactly what you want, instead of someone else’s idea of “hot sauce.” My favorite is doing half medium traditional and half cilantro lime (literally the only time I’ll eat cilantro). They also have a solid beer list.
  • Hops & Pie, Denver. I have previously listed them only under great taphouses – but that’s doing my favorite restaurant in Colorado a disservice. Not only is their beer menu diverse, well-curated, and always changing, but their food matches their passion for their beer. The pizzas have perfectly crisp crust, their sandwiches come on house-baked bread with premium fillings, and their mac & cheese is worth the ~458,285 calories in each spoonful.

Previous mention update:

  • The Cherry Cricket now has a new location in the old Breckenridge Brewery across from Coors Field and just down from Falling Rock – so even easier to visit during your GABF adventure!

This list is so far from exhaustive as to be ridiculous. There are just so many amazing places to eat, drink, and be merry in Denver and beyond that it’s impossible to list them all here. This was just my attempt to spread some love by sharing my favorite places with all of you. Please let me know what places you’d like to see included in 2021’s list!

Let the festivities commence!

Cheers.

Note: I’ve used primarily Facebook links to allow you to get the most updated information from all of the establishments listed.

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