We realize that it’s been some time since the “big day”. Regardless, we wanted to write a quick article to let you all know what we did on St. Paddy’s Day!
We drank a little Guinness (not the beer highlight of the day, but a St. Paddy’s Day “tradition” non the less), we wore green (most of us ) and we had a great time with good friends.
In true Saint Paddy’s tradition, we got an early start to this beer filled day. We started the day with a bike ride down to the parade on Blake Street. Realizing that none of us much cared to push and shove our way through the suffocating cluster of a crowd only to spot the occasional passing float, we turned to each other and asked ”Do you really care about the parade?” “Nope! Let’s grab a beer.”
We headed down Blake Street to River North Brewery, located at 2401 Blake Street. It’s directly on the parade route so we figured River North was the best of both worlds; some great craft beers and the occasional passing float. Local Denver food truck, The Crock Spot, was even parked out front offering some awesome grub. 11am may be too early to start drinking any other day of the year but on St. Paddy’s Day, it’s a given! The place was already packed. They usually don’t get things rolling until 3pm but on this most special of drinking days, they make an exception and open their doors bright and early, at 8am. We were lucky enough to get a seat at the bar and watch the parade pass right over our shoulders as we sipped on our beers. Meg had Hello Darkness, a Black IPA with a Belgian twist and Tyler had one of their latest creations, Hypothesis, a Double IPA weighing in at 9% ABV. A great way to kick off the day!
After a few beers, we met up with a buddy of ours and headed down to Freshcraft (at 1530 Blake Street) for a bite to eat. It was a bit of an escape from the chaos. If you’re a beer fan in the Denver area, you’ve probably heard of Freshcraft. With twenty rotating taps and dozens of bottles to choose from, you’ll always find something interesting to try. Plus, they offer up plenty of unique and seriously delicious eats! We chowed down on some sandwiches (with a pretzel bun, need I say more?), had a couple more beers and then decided to get out of the havoc that was LODO.
We hopped back on our bikes and cruised (or squeaked in Meg’s case, as she has an old 1960′s cruiser that is more cute than functional) down to what we consider to be two of the best micro/nano breweries in the Denver area by the names of Strange Brewing Company and Wits End Brewing Company.
Judging a book by it’s cover would be a mistake in this case. From the outside both Strange Brewing and Wits End look industrial, to say the least. You could easily cruise right past them, never discovering the sudsy gems hidden within.
Our journey continued at Strange Brewing Company, located in Denver at 1330 Zuni, Unit M. Strange Brewing Company is the realized dream and “plan B” of two out of work but enterprising home brewers, John Fletcher and Tim Myers.
It was crazy windy when we got there but that didn’t stop the mob of beer drinkers swarming the taps. In stark contrast to its industrial outward appearance, the sunlight pouring into this place offered an inviting space to share a good beer and a moment to stop and enjoy the afternoon.
Just outside there was even a sizable crowd of suds enthusiasts, willing to defy the unusually strong winds and hunker down in the packed “patio area” along side a food cart. After a quick struggle through the masses to reach the bar, most of us ended up with their Farmhouse Ale, a spicy Belgian ale that seemed to do the trick for all who partook.
Other notable brews on tap were their Cherry Kriek, it’s not a kriek by traditional standards but a lighter beer drenched in cherries. Great if you’ve got a lady who’s not super into beer. Britt (with camera in hand) even enjoyed sipping on this one! (We’re slowly working her into the wonderful world of craft beer; Meg and Tyler have made it a sort of… personal mission to bring her over to the malted, hoppy and sudsy “dark side” that is beer.) Strange Brewing also offered up two dark beers; Paint It Black Honey Coffee Stout and Cherry Bomb Belgian Stout, both on nitrogen and both with huge creamy heads.
After a few brews it was time to move on. The rest of the crowd must have been on the same page because by the time we left there were only a handful of souls left to carry on the night with Strange.
On to Wits End Brewing, located at 2505 W 2nd Ave, Unit 13 Denver, CO 80219, just down the street from Strange Brewing! Wits End is the passion of one man, Scott Witsoe. Scott is a transplant from the Seattle beer scene who has really taken his home brewing talent to the next level.
Wits End Brewing operates on a one barrel (31 gallon) system. His equipment is only slightly larger than what many home brewers have (or in our case are working on building) in their garage. Scott gladly gave us a quick tour of his set-up, which is really an inspiration for anyone looking to go big without a lot of financial backing. He makes damn good beer with it too.
It seems the fine folks at Wits End Brewing are also fans of the T.V. show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is awesome because so are we! We were immediately greeted with a loud and surly, “WHAT’S UP BITCHES?!” upon entering. The fact that Doug was wearing a ”Paddy’s Irish Pub” shirt might have tipped them off to our love of “The Gang”.
Of the beers on tap, the Super FLI.p.a. stands out as a sure winner. A black IPA with the perfect combination of rich malt flavor, it delivers a great hoppy kick in the mouth. Meghan, who isn’t exactly a hop-head, is even a big fan of this one. Another popular brew is Scott’s Green Man IPA, not your traditional IPA, a throw back to the old school hoppy-malty beers to come out of the Northwest, with a clean taste and a bright amber color that flirted with the fading sun as the night settled in around us.
Our St. Paddy’s Day ended a bit early. A quick stop at a crowded, pricey and somewhat over-rated “Irish” pub told us all we needed to know. The best of the brews had already been drunk. The commercial stuff just wasn’t measuring up to the craft beers we’d been enjoying all day. It was time to head home if we wanted any more good beer.
We’ll leave you with the wisest of Irish Proverbs;
When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to Heaven. So, let’s all get drunk and go to heaven!