Colorado is home to a great many breweries and distilleries, from the small time local brewery down the street, to the internationally renowned names such as Coors and Anheuser Busch. Whatever your taste, odds are that you’ll find a brewery or bar just for you. If you are in Denver then exploring these different brewers can be a fun, cheap, and buzz worthy activity for any day.
To start off this exploration into Denver’s mix of beers and spirits, outlined below is a daylong route and tour of three popular and relatively well known locations: Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, Coors Brewing Company, and the Denver Beer Company. Perhaps the best thing about exploring some of Colorado’s best is that the tours and samples are either free or very cheap. Follow this route and enjoy a day of eating and drinking for less than 40 dollars.
1. Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey—Start your day off strong and schedule yourself a free 10 a.m. tour at Stranahan’s, located conveniently right near down town Denver. Stranahan’s is a local whiskey distillery that has been growing in popularity in recent years. They are still independent and family owned, and still small enough to offer personally guided tours to their guests, complete with an explanation of the whiskey making, aging, and bottling process, the history of their distillery, and how to properly taste a sampling of whiskey. Tour groups are relatively small and offer an extremely informative look into whiskey making. Tour and sampling will take less than two hours. If you are lucky, you might even get the chance to have Rob, the head distiller, stop in and answer some questions too! For more information about Stranahn's check out the bourbonblog.com.
2. Coors Brewing Company—Stranahan’s is conveniently located right next to I-25, and as soon as your whiskey tasting is done, you will want to hop on the highway and head up to Golden Colorado. In about 15 to 20 minutes you will find yourself in designated parking for the Coors Brewery. It’s a quick drive, which is good, because getting to Coors before noon will save you a lot of waiting time. All visitors park in the designated parking and are driven up to the brewery in small sets via the Coors buses that stop by about every 10 to 15 minutes. Be advised, no bags or purses will be allowed, so make sure to grab your I.D. and be ready to go!
Your bus trip to the brewery will cover a quick intro to the city of Golden and its history, and the history of the brewery finding its way there. The tour is free and you have your choice of using their audio tour or for those with some technical savvy, you can enjoy the tour on your own smart phone. The tour is self guided, meaning you can take as much or as little time as you need and at the end you can enjoy three full glasses of your choice of Coors brand beers. What makes this tour even better? On the bus ride back, be sure to ask your driver for a Golden Ticket, which will score you 10% to 20% off at any number of local restaurants. Check out the Blue Canyon Bar and Grill where if you play it right, you can eat well for about $10 with your discount (be willing to load up on water after all that beer).
3. Denver Beer Company—After lunch it’s time to head back to Denver to enjoy your next destination, the Denver Beer Company. This stop does not offer a tour, but rather a look into the small scale, homegrown, brewery and bar that is common in the Denver area. Located conveniently right down town, it’s only about 15 minutes from Coors. The Denver Beer Company, created in 2011, is a popular location, dog friendly, and offers a great open air experience. It also always has events and activities lined up. The beauty of this place is that you have the chance to check them out right as their popularity is taking them to bigger and better places, as they are growing! Parking can be tough, but be sure to check the back of the bar for some extra open spaces. Try two flights of samples, at $5 a flight, to get a good sampling of all their different beers, including seasonal specials.
By this time, you have had the chance to try out some of Colorado’s best known and unique whiskey, checked out the Coors brewery out in Golden, and then tied it all up with a local’s experience at a small brewery and bar for some cheap sampling. This should hopefully serve as a good introductory experience to some of the different spirits of the Rockies that can be enjoyed in the Denver and Colorado areas. Enjoy and drive safe on your sampling adventure!