River North Brewery – Denver, CO

River North Logo

River North Brewery & Taproom is located in Denver, CO. a few blocks north of Coors Field in the ballpark neighborhood. The area around River North is a fun, lively and popular area with many breweries, galleries and restaurants close by. This area, called RiNO (River North Art District) was once a rough, mostly abandoned part of Denver, but has been transformed with redevelopment. RiNO includes many 100+ year-old brick buildings that have been renovated, giving the area a historic look and feel.

River North was started by Matt Hess, a former Engineer for Lockheed Martin. Matt was tired of the “cyclical nature of the aerospace industry”, and wanted to do something different. He had experience in homebrewing, and decided that starting a brewery was his ticket to doing something different. Matt had been homebrewing in 5 gallon batches, then splitting up the 5 gallon batch into smaller 1 gallon batches to try new ideas. Each smaller 1 gallon batch gave Matt an opportunity to tweak his recipes, or to add something completely new. With 2-3 years of experimentation, Matt was able to create some great homebrew recipes that he would eventually use to brew beers at River North Brewery. Matt has not only been the driving force behind the beers at River North, he also designed the logo. He has done a great job in creating a clean, distinctive brand that is easily recognizable. When he’s not brewing, Matt also handles deliveries and sales, manages the taproom, and many other tasks that arise in the day-to-day process of running the business side of the brewery.

Patrick Annesty is the Director of Communications for River North, and was nice enough to give us a tour and share their excellent beers. Patrick joined the River North team just after they officially opened last year. He came to Denver from Ft. Laurderdale, FL., after graduating from the University of Florida. Patrick was looking to move to a fun place with a good beer culture, and Denver was a prime spot for that. After coming to Denver, Patrick visited local breweries hoping to use his journalism and homebrewing skills to help out a local brewer. A few weeks after Parick visited River North, Matt Hess called Patrick and asked for help — opening weekend was bigger and busier than Matt ever imagined! Since then, Patrick has taken on a jack of all trades role, and does a bit of everything. Patrick is Matt’s right hand man, and does everything from generating buzz on social media to brewing to making deliveries.

River North officially opened in February 2012. In their first year, River North produced 300 barrels, and made a big name in the Denver community. The business plan for River North was different than many breweries that simply start a taproom and hope to distribute someday. Matt Hess started the brewery with the plan to bottle and distribute immediately. The facility behind River North’s taproom is huge for a smaller brewery, and provides a great deal of room for expansion going forward. If you visit the taproom, you will see just how big River North plans to become. The plan for 2013 is to produce 900 barrels, or 3x the amount of beer River North produced in their first year! River North Taproom

Matt Hess enjoys brewing Belgian-style ales, and American style ales with a Belgian twist. River North brews exclusively in the Belgian style, and is dedicated to always brewing quality beers. Ingredients are brought in from the best sources around the country in order to consistently brew high quality, great tasting beers. River North has an eclectic beer list, and does not focus on having all the American style beers that are typical at most breweries. We really enjoyed all of the beers, but especially the BPR (Belgian-Style Pale Red), the Hello, Darkness (Black IPA) and the Unified Theory (Oaked Imperial Wit).

Beer List:

  • River North White White Ale / Belgian-Style Wit 5.0% ABV
  • Hello, Darkness Black IPA: 6.2% ABV
  • BPR Belgian-Style Pale Red Ale 6.4% ABV
  • J. Marie Saison / Farmhouse Ale 7.5% ABV
  • Hoppenberg Uncertainty Principle Belgian-Style Double IPA 9.0% ABV
  • Quandary Quadrupel 9.6% ABV
  • Unified Theory Oaked Imperial Wit:  8.5% ABV
  • Avarice Belgian-Style Imperial Stout 9.3% ABV

Barrel Series (Limited Availability):

    • Barrel Series No. 1 – J. Marie Aged in Whiskey Barrels
    • Barrel Series No. 2 – J. Marie Aged in White Wine Barrels
    • Barrel Series No. 3 – Quandary Aged in Whiskey Barrels
    • Barrel Series No. 4 – BPR Aged in Whiskey Barrels
    • Barrel Series No. 5 – River North White aged in white wine
    • Barrel Series No. 6 – River North White aged in whiskey
    • Barrel Series No. 7 – Avarice Imperial Stout aged in whiskey
    • Barrel Series No. 8 – Barrel Reserve 2013 (currently available).

In Bottles (22 oz. bombers) Click here to see the River North beer locator

    • J. Marie
    • Hoppenberg Uncertainty Principle
    • Quandary
    • Unified Theory
    • Avarice

River North has a membership program for anyone that would like to become part of their local club. The program will be announced in July, and the details for this year are not available yet. Last year, members paid $50 and received a member’s only glass, $4 beers all day/everyday and had access to a special member’s only barrel aged IPA. The program for members will be different this year, but there will be great opportunities to get exlusive access to some cool offerings from River North.

Festivals: This only includes a couple that are already booked. To find out about all of the festivals and activities River North will be part of, check out their Facebook, and Twitter pages.

We had a great visit to River North, and look forward to seeing bigger and better things from them. They provide great beers, and a fun, laid-back atmosphere at their taproom. They recently opened up a patio which provides a nice place to enjoy fresh air and a little scenery. A great time to head to River North would be before a Rockies game. With the close proximity to Coors Field, it’s only a few minutes walk to enjoy a fresh beer. Thanks to Matt Hess and Patrick Annesty for their hospitality, and for sharing their story with us!

River North Brewery
2401 Blake St #1
Denver, CO. 80205
(On the corner of 24th & Blake)
303.296.2617

Wit’s End Brewing Company – Denver, CO

Wits End Brewing logo

Wit’s End Brewing Company is located in Denver, CO, and is a self proclaimed “Impossibly small Denver nanobrewery fueled by dreams and inspired by the limitless potential of craft beer.” Wit’s End was started by Scott Witsoe, a transplant from Seattle, WA. After coming to Denver, Scott realized there was a beer culture similar to Seattle, and the dream of starting a brewery was born.

The moment the light bulb turned on for Scott Witsoe was when he first attended the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). Scott had seen the event on TV, but always thought it looked gimicky, basically like an informercial. There was no way this event was as great as advertised…well maybe it really was. Scott couldn’t believe the amount of brewers, the different types of beer, and all the people that were so passionate about craft beer! The wheels started turning, and Scott began dreaming about becoming a brewer.

As Scott became more familiar with Denver, he quickly found great local craft beers. Great Divide became his favorite craft brewery, and happened to be in Scott’s neighborhood. Avery, another local brewery, turned Scott onto Belgian style beers. After getting some ideas and trying different types of beers, Scott began tinkering with his own recipes via a homebrew kit he acquired from his father-in-law. The kit had been collecting dust, so Scott simply needed to dust it off and pick up ingredients to make his first homebrew. Scott’s hombrewing quickly got him excited about opening up his own brewery. As Scott describes it, “opening the first beer, hearing the sound, and smelling the first beer, I knew what I wanted to do.” By his 5th homebrew batch, Scott filled his first keg. Scott’s friends tried his beers and the response was great…it was time for Scott to realize his dreams. 

Scott was laidoff from his job in the MMA industry in March 2011. It was at this point that Scott, and his wife Heather decided it was time to pursue his dream full-time. They made the decision to go through the difficult process of starting a brewery with no back up employment to fall back on. As Scott put it “Without the support of my wife, I would not be doing what I am. She has supported me completely, and she deserves a ton of credit for that!” After months of paperwork, planning, inspections, licensing, painting, construction, and a lot of long days, Scott and Heather officially opened Wit’s End Brewing in September 2011! Immediately, Scott realized how much he enjoyed watching people build relationships at Wit’s End, and he knew he was finally doing what he was meant to do.

Wit’s End is a small taproom that offers up fresh beer, and a neighborhood feel that is hard to find these days. Scott has placed an emphasis on fostering conversation instead of sitting and staring at TVs like at a typical sports bar. Each person that came to Wit’s End during our visit was personally greeted by Scott, and made to feel at home. If you want to enjoy a beer at a fun, friendly taproom, Wit’s End is a great place to go.

Scott has creativity that shows in his beers. With names like “Jean Claude Van Blond” and “Mick Jaggery” the beers at Wit’s End offer options that are a little outside the box. Standards are not necessarily followed, and are not meant to be. Scott has made an effort to do things his way, and does not worry about following institutionalized “style” guidelines. It’s more fun to do something different, and to create a unique recipe.

Beer List: Our favorite beers were the Wilford, and the Green Man Ale! The Wilford won an Award at the Colorado State Fair. The Green Man Ale is Scott’s oldest recipe and was modeled after the 1st craft beer he had in Seattle (Redhook). Wits End 40sIf you head down to Wit’s End, you can try many different beers from the tap. Availability changes from time to time, but there are always some great options to choose from.

If you want to purchase beer to take home, Wit’s End has a really cool option. They have 40oz. stainless steel “40s” that are very popular. In fact, Westword awarded Wit’s End with the “best new beer to go idea” for their 40s. You can even find Wit’s End’s 40s in the A-Z exhibit at the Colorado History Museum in the beer section. Wit’s End will also fill any seal able container with the beers they have on tap, so bring in a growler, Nalgene, or any other seal able container.

  • Jean-Claude Van Blond: Inspired by the action hero in all of us. It features a Belgian yeast strain and is built on a lighter malt profile with just a touch of oats for a silky body and some additional depth. You will find this beer intriguing and hard to define—which is just the way we like it.
  • Wilford: Introducing the Belgian Oatmeal IPA! Flaked oats play a major role in this Belgian-American porridge. Pungent spicy noble hops, citrusy American hops, and a Belgian yeast all wrapped up in a silky blanket of oats–yes please! We will not make any claims as to the health benefits of using oatmeal in beer, but if there are any, then…it’s the right beer to drink, and the tasty way to do it!
  • Super FL I.P.A. : A no nonsense Black IPA—can you dig it? This bad-ass beer features nine different malts, as well as a combination of Columbus and Cascade hops. After the fermentation, it is then dry-hopped and rests on just a touch of real cedar wood chips. The game it plays it plays for keeps!
  • Green Man Ale: Inspired by the malty and hoppy beers of the Great Northwest, Green Man Ale is a rich and layered beer that lies somewhere between an IPA and a Red Ale—not exactly radical, but not quite the conformist, Green Man Ale just is.
  • Kitchen Sink Porter: What started out as a basic porter recipe evolved by adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that, using a wide variety of malts not typically seen in a porter. This includes various types of rye and a dash of smoked malt. The result—a roasty, spicy, chocolaty glass of goodness. We just threw in the Kitchen Sink moniker for good measure.
  • Experimental Beers: There are many of them…probably too many to list here! Check out the beer list or see what is available when you visit. The experimental beers are available from time to time. To view Wit’s End’s beer list, click here

We had a great visit to Wit’s End Brewing, and were impressed with the beers, and the passion behind the making of them. Scott Witsoe has created a great environment to enjoy a beer, or as he puts it “slow beers for fast times.” Wit’s End is all about personality, and making it enjoyable for people to visit. If you’re looking for an unpretentious environment, and are open to exploring new types of beers, Wit’s End would be a great taproom to visit. Thanks for the hospitality Scott!

Wit’s End Brewing Company
2505 W 2nd Ave. Unit 13
Denver, CO 80219
http://www.witsendbrewing.com/

Taproom Hours
Thursdays
4:00-8:00pm

Fridays and Saturdays
2:00-8:00pm

Sundays
2:00-6:00pm

The 2013 Breckenridge Spring Beer Festival was a great event!

The 2013 Breckenridge Spring Beer Festival was held Saturday, April 6th in Downtown Breckenridge, CO. There was a lot of buzz as beer enthusiasts gathered to sample some of the best craft beer Colorado, and the United States has to offer. From big national brewers like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada to smaller regional brewers like Palisade Brewery and San Luis Valley Brewing, the event provided visitors a chance to sample many different types of beer. Several Colorado favorites were available with AC Golden, Breckenridge Brewery, Great Divide, Left Hand, Odell and Oskar Blues providing their popular craft beers.

The atmosphere in Downtown Breckenridge was lively and fun as beer enthusiasts from all over gathered to sample a great mix of quality craft beers. The event catered to an audience of all ages, and many families came to enjoy the festival. Live music created a nice vibe as many participants danced in the street to the music of 7Horse, Mountain Standard Time, and Max Gomez. There is nothing quite like drinking a fresh beer, while listening to good music with the mountains above Breckenridge in the background!

 Breck Beer Fest (2) 4-6-13 Breck Beer Fest 4-6-13

Best Beers (in our opinion). Keep in mind that there were so many great beers available to taste, we didn’t even come close to trying all of them! To see a list of all brewers that participated in the event, click here.

  • Wheat: Pug Ryan’s Morningwood Wheat was outstanding. A smooth taste, with very subtle spiciness and a nice finish.
  • Stout: Left Hand’s Milk Stout was really tasty. The subtle taste of coffee, without being overpowering. The Milk Stout has a nice creamy/frosty finish and goes down really smooth.
  • Belgian: Avery’s White Rascal has a spicy, sweet and unique taste. As we overheard someone say “It tastes like Christmas!” While that is not how we would describe it, the saying actually works.
  • Lager: Colorado Native was our favorite lager of the day. A distinct malt flavor with some bitterness and an overall clean, crisp taste.
  • IPA: The Odell IPA was our first beer of the day, and just so happened to be our favorite IPA as well. Great hoppiness, with smooth, subtle hints of fruity finish.
  • Pilsner: The Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils. This beer has a bit of a different flavor than most Pilsners. A rich, smooth and subtly hoppy beer with a nice finish.
  • Most Unique/Unusual: Breckeridge Brewery’s Roasted Habanero Lucky IPA. This crazy beer has a subtle kick from the habanero, but is not overpowering. It’s a creative twist on the IPA, and was unlike anything else we tried!   

We had a great time at the Breckenridge Spring Beer Festival! If you were unable to make it to the Spring edition, plan on making it to the Summer edition. The Breckenridge Summer Beer Festival will be held July 13, 2013. To find out more check out http://breckenridgebeerfestival.net/july/