As the number of breweries and taprooms has exploded over the last decade, it has often come at the demise of craft beer bars.
When Denver’s leading beer slinger Falling Rock Tap House closed up shop in 2021 after 24 years, owner Chris Black pointed not-so-subtly to the changing beer landscape and specifically taprooms, where beer makers can circumvent the middleman and cash in on the retail dollar.
While there’s undeniable appeal in going straight to the source, there’s also still immense value in the beer bar, where you can belly up and try something old or something new in a friendly environment that welcomes beverage exploration and education alongside something to soak up the suds.
These five Denver spots check all those boxes, offering pints, flights and more.
Bull & Bush Brewery
Sure, Bull & Bush is a brewery that serves its own beers on draft alongside a menu of pub grub, but that’s only part of the allure. In addition to rotating guest beers — there are more than 35 taps total — it maintains a robust cellar of bottled beers. Such a luxury is rare at modern beer bars. The archive here not only includes vintages of Bull & Bush specialties like Release the Hounds barley wine and Nappy Nap Time barrel-aged honey strong ale, but also guest bottles dating back to the early 2000s. Go on, treat yourself.
4700 E. Cherry Creek South Drive, Glendale. bullandbush.com
Ephemeral Rotating Taproom
Every day is a tap takeover at Ephemeral Rotating Taproom, which as the name suggests, changes its menu frequently. But unlike other spots that rotate through taps, this newcomer to Denver’s bar scene spotlights one brewery at a time, offering drinkers a deep dive into a beer maker’s catalog with up to 20 draft options. The goal is to showcase breweries that are not widely distributed in Colorado. However, it also recently hosted Greeley’s WeldWerks Brewing Co., which brought 19 different beers to the Mile High City.
2301 E. 28th Ave., Denver. ephemeraltap.com
Goed Zuur means “good acid” or “good sour” in Dutch, which is the mantra at this specialty beer bar in Five Points. Sours dominate the menu, whether you’re craving a geuze, framboise, Flanders red, Oud Bruin or Berliner Weisse. The bar also collaborates with local breweries on exclusive recipes, such as the now-available Acid Jazz Vol. 5 fruited sour brewed with Westbound & Down Brewing Co. Goed Zuur offers a select menu of cheeses and sandwiches to cut through the tangy and tart pours.
2801 Welton St., Denver. goedzuur.com
Hops & Pie
Pizza and beer are a quintessential Denver pairing, and you may find no better selection of both than at Tennyson staple Hops & Pie. In addition to culling coveted Colorado beers, the restaurant serves libations from renowned American and international breweries on draft, in bottles and in cans. Pair your pint with a Detroit-style, thin crust or traditional pie, which as of late September will feature a house-made sourdough crust. Bonus: On Wednesdays, craft cans cost $2 from 5 p.m. to close.
3920 Tennyson St., Denver. hopsandpie.com
Walter’s303 Pizzeria & Publik House
Nestled in a brick building on a corner lot in Uptown Denver, Walter’s303 serves up excellent pies and pints in an unassuming environment where every guest can feel like a regular. The bar’s 25 taps rotate through local and national delicacies; on a recent visit we snagged a pint of Russian River Brewing Co.’s Pliny the Elder. And if you’re looking for something other than beer, it boasts a commendable selection of whiskeys and cocktails. Can’t make it to Uptown? Check out Walter’s303 in Lowry (Denver), Littleton and Colorado Springs.
1906 Pearl St., Denver; and 200 Quebec St., #109, Denver. walters303.com
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