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Best of Denver breweries, part 1

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Renegade Brewing Company

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One of the best newer breweries in Denver resides in the Santa Fe Arts District. Open for two years, Renegade Brewing features excellent and varied beers, a fun atmosphere, and kooky theme nights.

The space is fairly large though crowded with tables. Nonetheless, this place is often standing room only. If one is lucky enough to snag a table, don’t leave! The bar has many seats as well, but nearly all of them have their back to the door—bad for those of us who adhere to feng shui or at the very least feel uncomfortable in such circumstance.

Like so many breweries these days, drinks compose the whole of the menu, but food trucks are available to serve eats. There is a large garage door that provides fresh air and good standing space in summer. There is a little concrete section out front, but as this is not fenced in, it does not serve as an actual patio—leave the beers inside. The inside, however, is dog-friendly, so Fido is welcome to come with you.

The beer menu usually consists of seven to eight beers, some the “classics,” some rotating, seasonal, or special. All are clearly identified by type of beer as well as percentage and IBUs. The stronger varieties come in 10 ounce tulips. You can also order 1 ounce tasters individually, or a whole flight of all the offerings.

Prices are reasonable, whether for a single pour, a four-pack of cans, or to fill a growler (either 32 or 64 ounce). If you’re a member of the AHA, be sure to ask for your discount.

One of the classics is the “Redacted” Rye IPA. Formerly known as Ryetous, the name had to be changed (and cleverly at that) to avoid copyright infringement. This beer is a masterpiece, well balanced, sharp, with nice flavors of hops and rye in perfect proportions. The Hammer and Sickle, the Russian imperial stout on the menu, consists of great flavor, but is not for the faint of heart at 9 percent.

Other regulars on the menu are 5:00 Afternoon Ale and Elevation IPA. The former lives up to its name, though it could just as easily be “noon ale.” Made for pounding down after a strenuous afternoon, this beer is light on flavor but exhibits a nice balance and is better than your average domestic lager. The Elevation IPA is another for the sturdy at heart, at 11.2 percent and with 100 IBUs. Yummy!

Seasonal or specialty beers make appearances too. The Golden Shower—fun to order! Fun to drink!—is a Belgian special ale. It adheres closely to its description: a hint of sour tang, almost like a really nice apple, it rolls around the mouth with a subtle richness. Una Mas, Renegade’s chili beer, is a solid entry in the genre. Even for someone who does not favor chili beers, this one is a winner.

Currently on tap is Black Gold, an imperial peanut butter cup milk stout. Smooth, rather cloyingly sweet, but delicious. But at 11 percent, beware if its subtle bite. You can also order mixtures of the beers. An interesting combination is the Una Mas with the Hammer and Sickle—dark, spicy, and unusual.

Now about those theme nights. Every Monday is MaxFund Monday, where a designated beer supports this no-kill animal shelter with $1 from every pour ordered. Tuesdays are Connect 4 tournament night (you remember that game, right?). First Fridays are celebrated, as this is right off the beaten art path. Occasional beer dinners are on tap too, so check the website for details: http://renegadebrewing.com/.

The crowd is fun but definitely skews hipster. In fact, one may feel slightly naked without a beard here. Nonetheless, you will find like-minded beer drinkers for conversation.

Denver beer drinkers have a home here, and this beer drinker hopes that Renegade continues to push itself in new and interesting directions. Be sure to visit the other location, by University of Denver, that also has a food menu. Cheers!

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