The following article was written by Mark Robinson, who writes Brewtally Insane, a website focused on the Colorado beer scene. Mark and I have been having a little fun with Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup and decided to give each other’s readers a glimpse into our respective beer scenes. Here is his take on Denver. You can also see my post about Seattle here.
Who’s ready for the Super Bowl? Seeing Denver all decked out in Orange & Blue is a beautiful thing. The energy and enthusiasm of our city has me charged up, but also has me wondering what’s happening with our opponents city. With a Denver vs. Seattle Super Bowl showdown set for Sunday, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for a friendly collaborative post with a Seattle beer blogger.
Geoff and I hatched the idea to promote and share our local beer scenes with each other’s readers. We’ve agreed to keep it clean (you’re off the hook this time Richard Sherman) and we’ve even set up a little wager based on Sunday’s outcome.
Enough chit-chat. Listen up Seattle, it’s time you met the Denver beer scene!
Denver, Colorado. The city known for its mile high elevation, stunning Rocky Mountain views, 300+ days of sunshine and an absolutely incredible craft beer scene. When it comes to ranking “America’s Best Beer Cities”, Denver routinely shows up near the top of any respectable list out there. Just ask CNN, Men’s Journal, Travel + Leisure, USA Today and dozens more.
Once Upon A Time, It Was All About The Beer…
Without question, Denver produces some of the finest beers in the country. Our Beer speaks for itself. Don’t believe me? Let me refresh your memory of the 2013 Great American Beer Festival (GABF). You know, the nation’s largest beer festival, the one we host right here in Denver that attracts craft beer fans from around the world. It’s kind of a big deal.
At last year’s GABF, Colorado brought home 46 medals, second only to California, who snuck past us with 52. We also took the most Gold Medals with 19. Just sayin’…
Behind those award winning beers are Denver’s crafty brewers, who come from a variety of backgrounds and seem to offer a beer to suit every type of palate out there. Our diversity of beer is unparalleled, partly due to the abundance of fresh, quality, local ingredients. Rocky Mountain Water? Check. Locally grown hops, barley, fruit and other ingredients? Check.
Denver is truly a brewer’s playground. Our brewers embrace it by getting creative with seasonal ingredients and continually pushing boundaries, limited only by what they’re capable of dreaming up.
With such an abundance of great craft beer in one place, the beer scene practically comes to our door. At last count, we had 29 breweries located within city limits, and countless others in the surrounding suburbs, along with loyal followers to sustain and support them. Many have carved out their own niche along the way, specializing in styles ranging from the authentic English Ales on cask at Hogshead to the complex Wild Ales over at Crooked Stave.
Did I mention there’s more on the way?! By the end of 2014, Denver could have nearly 50 breweries operating within city limits and well over 200 across the state! There’s so many breweries in town that we have an annual Festivus in December, to celebrate and toast another year of great craft beer.
Despite our reputation of being a craft beer destination, I firmly believe there’s much more to our beer scene than just breweries turning out great brews.
Community Brewed From Beer
While I could go on and on and on about Denver’s incredible beer scene, I’m going to shift gears in order to explain what sets us apart from the rest of the nation’s great beer cities. I want to take the opportunity to shine the spotlight on our incredible Community, because for me, our Community is what defines our beer scene. It’s the one thing that blows me away, time and time again (even more so than our locally crafted brews!).
Denver’s Beer Community is about Charity. The Community is quick to lend a helping hand and support those in need. This week alone Small Batch Liquors raffled off a membership to Crooked Stave’s Cellar Reserve club, raising $1,310 for Planned Pethood; the 12th Annual Strong Ale Fest at nearby Avery Brewing is almost completely sold out, with all proceeds going to charity; a raffle for rare beers was organized to assist with medical bills of an active and generous member of the community, whose son is currently battling leukemia. The Community continually puts others first and goes the extra mile to help others week in and week out.
Denver’s Beer Community is about Camaraderie. The guys (and gals) making our amazing brews look out for each other like family. If a brewery’s running low on a particular ingredient, often times a phone call and a high-five or two to a fellow brewer will turn up whatever they might be searching for. If a brewery’s launching a beer, they’ll often drop off a few bottles with their counterparts around town to sample and share. If an outsider threatens a brewery with a bullying law suit, the rally flag is waved to fight the good fight. There’s so many examples of teamwork and collaboration that the Colorado Brewers Guild is organizing a Collaboration Fest, coming up in March.
Denver’s Beer Community is about Celebrating With Each Other. The fans that line up for events like Zwanze Day or the next über rare, limited release, know how to do it in style. These events are the perfect excuse to organize a bottle share, cookout and talk beer for hours on end. Don’t have a bottle to share? No problem. Forgot your glass? We’ve got extras. Got shut out of a release? Someone’s always willing to trade or pop one to share.
If you like talking and sampling beer with like-minded individuals, you’ve come to the right place. Since moving to Denver 8+ years ago, my beer family has transitioned from “beer acquaintances” to “beer friends” to true friends. The type of people that’d come to my kid’s birthday parties even if there was no beer to be had. Beer brought us together and my life’s better because of it.
My point is that Denver’s Community is what shapes and defines our craft beer scene. Sure, we have a ton of great beer and probably more breweries than Starbuck’s locations, but it’s the generosity, passion and kindness of the people involved within our Community that truly sets us apart from any other beer destination in America. It makes me proud to call Denver my Home.
Seattle, we hope you come out and pay us a visit soon. Maybe you can come raise a pint with us next week when we celebrate our upcoming Super Bowl victory. Enjoy Sunday’s game and Go Broncos!