By Neill Pieper
Denver’s River North District is hopping. Better known as RiNo, this artistic, up-and-coming neighborhood is making a name for itself in the world of craft brewing. Rivaling the likes of the famed Pearl District in Portland, Ore., RiNo seems to be adding a new brewery every few months.
Small craft brewers (Mockery, Crooked Stave, Black Shirt) and heavyweights alike (Blue Moon, 10 Barrel and soon New Belgium) are nestled in just north of downtown. It appears this once industrial neighborhood has reached beerhalla.
Whether you are a local or just in town for the weekend, you can't miss this eclectic culmination of breweries if you want to understand the craft beer craze sweeping the state. Uber, bike, walk, light rail or skip around the new bastion of craft nirvana. The district is bounded by Interstate 70 to the north, I-25 to the west, Park Avenue West to the south, and Arapahoe Street to the east. The neighborhood can be experienced in any time frame, depending on how many stops you want to make.
But don't take our word for how great the once-industrial area has become. We suggest you taste your way through and decide for yourself.
Crooked Stave – If funky farmhouse styles and sours are your thing, look no further. Crooked Stave is making phenomenal beers and their taproom is located in The Source, a culmination of artisan businesses in an old 1880's foundry building.
Great Divide Barrel Bar – Great Divide opened their Barrel Aging facility last year in RiNo and is pouring some of their aged creations in this unique space. Look for big beers on draft here, barrel aged versions of their Douple IPA Hercules and Yeti Stout.
Epic Brewing – Originally from Utah, their beers are ... well ... epic. If they have any of their limited beers available during your visit, try the Big Bad Baptist, anything from the Brainless Series and the southwest inspired Utah Sage Saison.
Mockery Brewing – Mockery's motto is “The only thing we take seriously is beer” and we believe it. For the 500th anniversary of Reinheitsgebot (the German purity law) they have brewed an oaked hefe, spinning this “traditional” German beer into something more ... American #getsome.
Blue Moon – Locals know Blue Moon as a subsidiary of behemoth Coors. Nonetheless, we really like what they've done with their new RiNo brewery. European influenced fung shui pairs well with both their small batch beer and culinary offerings.
Bierstadt Lagerhaus – This newly opened lagerhaus garnered its equipment from an old German brewery. Now, that equipment is being used to churn out crisp, clear and consistently great lagers and pilsners.
Beryl’s Beer – More barrel-aged beers here than you can shake a stick at. Beryl's goal is to make traditional beer recipes unique through barrel aging. Check out the Colorado 1876 Ale, which is made with all-Colorado ingredients. A portion of the proceeds go to charity.
Black Shirt Brewing – Check the calendar and then hit up Black Shirt Brewing for live music and on-point Red Ales, which is what they proudly proclaim to do. Music and reds can’t be beat.
Zephyr Brewing – Just a few blocks from Coors Field, Zephyr is perfect for enjoying a handcrafted brew on the patio with a Bavarian pretzel in hand. And save time to catch a Rockies game.
Ratio Beerworks- Chocolate Rye Scotch Ale and French-style Saison are must tries at Ratio. The Saison exemplifies drier, earthier notes than its sweeter Belgian counterparts and the stout speaks for itself, described as “complex yet approachable.” The flavor profile is well rounded for a robust beer.
Look out for New Belgium, Oskar Blues (ChubBurger) and 10 Barrel Brewing, all of which will open in RiNo in the coming months. We’ve heard that 10 Barrel is aiming for a soft opening during the Great American Beer Festival and look for New Belgium’s new space in The Source Hotel.