Black Shirt Brewing Company – Denver, CO

Black Shirt Brewing Company is located in the River North (RiNo) district in Denver, near the intersection of Walnut and Downing. Just north of the brewery, maybe a couple hundred yards away, is a stop for RTD’s A-Line Light Rail line. Many travelers either heading out to DIA or coming from DIA to Denver, stop at Black Shirt Brewing to try a fresh Colorado craft beer. Due to their unique location, Black Shirt has loyal fans all over the country that enjoy stopping in when they visit Colorado. Black Shirt is one of the must-try breweries in the Denver area whether you live nearby or you’re planning to visit from another state.

Black Shirt Brewing Company’s story began in 2011 when brothers Branden and Chad Miller along with Chad’s wife, Carissa, decided it was finally time to realize their dream of owning a brewery. The siblings had the idea to make this happen as far back as 1999, but like they say, “good things take time”. With help from Carissa’s brother, Aaron Holstad, they worked long hours to transition the old brick building into a functioning brewery. The building is thought to be from the 1920s and there are varying stories as to its exact history. From a furniture store in the 50s to a disco in the 60s-70s, to a brothel sometime along the way (not confirmed), the building had a lot of history.

The owners worked hard to begin the next chapter for the building as it transitioned to a brewery. For nearly two years (one year, 9 months) Branden, Chad and Aaron worked to renovate what they could as they were paying for improvements as they went. Due to the fact they had a small budget, every single piece of the brewery was touched by one of the three. There are some really cool touches to the construction that have unique stories. For instance, the barn wood was brought in from Branden and Chad’s hometown.

Black Shirt Brewing Owners Branden and Chad Miller are Colorado natives, having grown up in the Southern Colorado town of Westcliffe, CO. They will proudly tell you that they are in fact, 5th generation Coloradans. The brothers gravitated towards skateboards and the music of Johnny Cash, while preferring their clothes to be black. It wasn’t what all of the popular kids did, it was what Branden and Chad did. When they decided to open the brewery, Branden and Chad thought it was important to stay true to their style and design things to fit what they liked. When you walk in Black Shirt Brewing, you quickly notice pictures of Johnny Cash and many references to music on the walls. You will hear music playing and it might just be coming from the back patio.

The Beer:
One of the questions we like to ask at Colorado Craft Brews is what makes a brewery unique from the others. For Black Shirt this is an easy question to answer. Black Shirt specializes in Red Ales, a style of beer that is an uncommon focus among most breweries. Sure, most breweries brew a Red IPA from time to time, or a Red Ale for a seasonal, but very few focus on primarily brewing Red Ales. When we asked Branden Miller why he chose to brew Red Ales, he quickly told the story of his dad and the fact he believes it’s best to one thing and do it better than everyone else.

Branden and Chad decided to pursue brewing Red Ales for a number of reasons. Colorado is a Spanish adjective that means “red”. Early Spanish explorers named Colorado for the red that could be found around the state. A great example of this is the area in Southern Colorado where Branden and Chad grew up. This area is known for being the home of the Sangro de Christo Mountains. Sangre de Christo means “the blood of Christ” in reference to the red hues of the mountain range. Branden thought Red Ales were being done well but there was definitely room for improvement. Ultimately, it seemed fitting that in a state known for its red soil and red rock formations, he could brew Red Ales and brew them better than anyone else.

We sampled a number of Black Shirt’s beers and were impressed by the variety and quality of the samples. While difficult to pick a favorite, we thoroughly enjoyed the Frontmaniac IPA. Hop lovers will enjoy this big, bold IPA with a smooth finish. The Baritone Black IPA stood out for the earthy, piney notes – definitely a beer we will be trying again. The Colorado Red Ale (Black Shirt’s flagship beer) has floral and citrusy notes that make it a favorite for American IPA drinkers. If you prefer lighter, less hoppy beers, the Semitone Saison, Common Red Kolsch are great options. One thing we noted in trying some of the higher ABV (alcohol by volume) beers was that they were not overpowering, each was smooth and balanced. Often times, higher ABV beers can be either too hoppy or too malty. Overall, we enjoyed the tastings and would recommend Black Shirt’s beer to anyone from craft beer fanatics to those that are looking to try craft beer for the first time.

Beer List:

  • Born to Hula (Nitro) – Sour Ale: 6.5% abv – Sour Ale conditioned atop Pineapple and Coconut, dry-hopped w/ Citra
  • Common Red – Kolsch: 5.5% abv – Crisp, clean, and crushable
  • Semitone – Saison: 5.4% abv – Petit Saison brewed with sweet orange peel
  • Stringender Saison – Saison: 7.5% abv – An amplified, resonant and expressive Saison
  • Timekeeper Rye Pale Ale – American Pale Ale: 6% – A precise, balanced and crisp Rye Pale Ale
  • Colorado Red Ale – Amber Ale: 7.3% abv – The flagship beer, a floral citrusy Red IPA
  • Frontmaniac IPA – IPA: 7% abv – Hopped to a rate of over 5 lbs per barrel of Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic hops
  • Blood Orange – Double IPA: 8% abv – Double IPA conditioned atop fresh blood oranges and double dry-hopped w/ Mosaic and Amarillo hops
  • Ocean of Noise – Gose: 5.4% abv – Gose brewed w/ Yuzu, Lemongrass, Hawaiian Red Gold Sea Salt, dry-hopped w/ Equinox and Hallertau Blanc
  • Fourtrack Porter – Porter: 6.3% abv – American Porter w/ notes of milk chocolate, caramel and toffee
  • Baritone – Black IPA: 7.5%: Dark and brooding Black IPA inspired by the original man in black Johnny Cash. Warrior, Chinook and Simcoe hops
  • Black Beacon Storm Nitro – Imperial Stout: 8.5% abv – Imperial Rye Stout aged in a variety of bourbon barrels.
  • Frontman IPA – IPA: 7.3% – A mic’d up, hoppy and loud IPA brewed w/ Chinook, Simcoe and Mosaic Hops.

Black Shirt Brewing distributes their beer in many liquor stores around the metro Denver area. You can also find Black Shirt in a handful of mountain towns including, Buena Vista, Gunnison, Salida and Crested Butte. If you want to find a location near you that sells Black Shirt’s beer try their beer locator. The best way to enjoy a Black Shirt beer is to visit the taproom. If you can make it on the first Wednesday of the month, you’ll be able to try a new release beer and help raise money for local charities. $1 from each sale of the special release beer is donated to a local charity. If you are not able to make it on the first Wednesday, you can still try the new release beer for the entire month, until the next special release (and your purchase still helps raise money for charity).

We mentioned that you may hear music coming from the beer garden at Black Shirt. They have a stage in the back that is a hot spot for artists in the local music scene. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Black Shirt hosts live bands on the stage and welcomes fans to enjoy music with a fresh craft beer.Be sure to check the schedule as there are many events going on throughout the spring and summer.

We would like to thank Branden Miller for taking time to chat about Colorado craft beer. It was apparent in our discussion how passionate Branden is about brewing high quality beer. We encourage anyone reading this to make a trip to Black Shirt Brewing to enjoy a delicious beer, you won’t be disappointed. If you would like to learn more about how they got their start, you can see Black Shirt in a craft beer documentary called Crafting a Nation.

Black Shirt Brewing Company
3719 Walnut St.
Dener, CO 80205
(303) 993-2799

Joyride Brewing Company – Edgewater, CO

Joyride Brewing logoJoyride Brewing Company is located in Edgewater, CO across the street from Sloan’s Lake, a popular Denver park for walking, biking and even boating. Due to their location, Joyride has become a hot spot for visitors of the lake. If you’ve never heard of Edgewater, it’s because the city is less than one square mile in size. The area has a unique history that Joyride embraced in many aspects of their operation. From the logo, to the names of the beer, there are some really cool facts about the area that have been integrated into the brewery and taproom.

History of the Brewery:
Joyride Brewing Company opened for business on July 16, 2014 to great fanfare. There was a great deal of excitement for the opening because the building had been vacant for a couple of years, and Joyride would become the first brewery in Edgewater. The first day was crazy as group after group kept coming and the staff realized they were not quite ready for the amount of people that showed up. Thanks to great support, and the amount of people that visited the brewery early on, Joyride streamlined their processes and can now handle large crowds.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Bergen, Brewmaster and Owner of Joyride Brewing. Dave went to college for management of business computers, but it wasn’t something he was really excited about. He ended up going into sales, but felt like he wanted to do something different. Dave bought his dad a Mr. Beer homebrew kit, but his dad wasn’t really into it. He got the kit back from his dad and started getting really excited about brewing, and the science behind it. He then got a second Mr. Beer kit and started brewing more and more. In late 2008, Dave reached the point that Mr. Beer was too limiting, and he got into all-grain brewing so he could try new things, and of course, brew better beer. Eventually he joined a homebrew club, Foam on the Range, and began gaining notoriety for brewing good beer.

After a few years of learning, and gaining experience brewing quality beer, Dave and two friends, Grant Babb and Brent Smith, decided they wanted to partner up and open a brewery. The trio decided to treat their goal like being in a band, and they dedicated regular time to brewing, much like a band having regular practices. After about three years they started writing a business plan, looking for investors, and searching for properties for the brewery. They found the location in Edgewater after walking about fifty buildings. They signed a long-term lease on an abandoned pawn shop that had been vacant for about two years. The building Joyride Brewing occupies had been various businesses, including a pawn shop, a record store, and Edgewater’s first grocery store and meat market. The building was built in 1910 and operated as Knoll’s Meat Market.

Sloan’s Lake also has an interesting history. Thomas Sloan, a cattle rancher, was digging on his land in 1861 and hit an underground aquifer, creating Sloan’s Lake (which people dubbed Sloan’s Leak when it first happen). Sloan would cut ice blocks from the lake in the winter and sell it to breweries. This fact inspired Joyride to name a beer “Ice Cutter Kolsch” in honor of the German breweries that were prevalent when Sloan was supplying them with ice blocks. Manhattan Beach opened in 1881 on the shore of Sloan’s Lake and was the first amusement park west of the Mississippi River. Roger the Elephant was the first elephant that P.T. Barnum (founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus) purchased, and he spent time at the Manhattan Beach Amusement Park at Sloan’s Lake. Roger had a woven basket on his back, and gave kids rides around the park. There was an accident and Roger was put down, then buried nearby at 20th and Depew. Joyride Brewing really embraced the great history of the area, and this why they have an elephant in their logo. Dave is very knowledgeable about the local history, and says that it’s a good reminder that life’s about the journey instead of the destination. Joyride Brewing1 (1)Another historic aspect of the Joyride story, is that their building had a mural detailing the history of Edgewater. Unfortunately, they had to tear off the mural to meet the city regulations for having windows for a minimum transparency from the outside looking in. Where the garage doors are now located, there used to be a mural detailing much of the history of Edgewater, and Sloan’s Lake. Joyride’s ownership was really bummed about taking down the mural, but they were happy to have helped bring more people to the area, which has helped many of the local businesses. I’m very impressed with the level of knowledge of local history, and the amount of history that Joyride incorporated into their operation.

The Beer:
Joyride boasts a diverse mix of beer, with options for people that like all different beer styles. They embrace having people visit that may not have a lot of experience with craft beer, and educating them on different beer styles. Dave loves the discovery aspect of craft beer, where he can try new beers. He even plans his vacations around being able to check out new breweries and brewing styles. The brewers at Joyride (Dave + three assistant brewers) brew six regular beers, but they try new styles, and are constantly looking to evolve their skills. They use a wide variety of hops in their beers, where some breweries use the same hops for many of their beers.
Joyride Brewing1 (2)Regular Beers (descriptions from the Joyride menu):

  • Ice Cutter Kolsch5.5% ABV, 25 IBUs: In the winter after Thomas Sloan flooded his farm, he would cut ice from the lake and sell it to local breweries. As most brewers in the day were of German decent, a Kolsch style beer could have been produced. Joyride’s Kolsch is a classic interpretation of the style, very smooth and drinkable like a lager with a light fruit flavor from ale fermentation. It has moderate levels of bitterness and noble hop flavor and a crisp, dry finish. Nothing pairs better with our Lakeside view than our Kolsch.
  • Bear Paw Oatmeal Milk Stout7.2% ABV, 45 IBUs: The Bear Paw is a deliciously decadent Sweet Stout that is robust and silky smooth. Seven different malts create chocolate, roast, caramel and coffee flavors, while five pounds of lactose sugar per barrel balance it out with a velvety sweetness. The flaked oats contribute to a luscious mouthfeel that will leave you wanting another glass. It may seem cute and cuddly, but at over 7%, this one’s got some claws.
  • Cougar Pale Ale5.1% ABV, 40 IBUs: Cougar Pale Ale is west coast inspired with English character. We use a method known as “hop bursting” and add all of the hops after the boil during our whirlpool. This gives the beer an extremely soft and pleasant bitterness while maximizing hop flavor and aroma. We also add Maris Otter malt as about 20% of the grist to provide a more toasty and bready malt backbone. The result is a very balanced American Pale Ale without the hops or malt being over the top. Take a Cougar home tonight!
  • Dry Hopped Antelope Amber5.3% ABV, 50 IBUs: Antelope is a bold rich and hoppy American Amber that leaps across your tongue. Antelope weaves caramel, nutty and dark fruit flavors from six premium malts with the citrus characteristics from four types of American hops to create a delicious Amber Ale. For this batch, we dry hopped with Amarillo hops to increase the grapefruit and floral aromas. Let this one run wild.
  • Edgewater IPA6.5% ABV, 70 IBUs: Edgewater IPA is a west coast style IPA that bursts out of the glass. We use obscene amounts of Apollo and Chinook with a touch of Amarillo hops to layer citrus, piney, resiny and floral characteristics across your palate. The hop explosion and dry finish make this extremely drinkable and enjoyable. Edgewater. This is our town. This is our IPA. Take it for a ride.
  • Joyride Double IPA9.3% ABV, 100+ IBUs:  Intended to be seasonal but the response was strong it’s now always on tap. Calling all hop heads, this beer is for you! We used three pounds of hops per barrel to give our Double IPA an aggressive and delicious hop profile. We used 4 different types of American and German malts, but the hops are definitely the star here. We did 7 different additions of Simcoe and Citra hops to layer piney, citrus, tropical fruit and melon flavors into this dangerously drinkable ale.

Seasonal/Rotating Beers:

  • Black Razz Blonde
  • Give Peach a Chance Berliner Weisse
  • Sloan’s Pale Ale
  • Emerald Irish Stout
  • Batch 69 Hoppy Wheat Ale

As described above, Joyride offers a diverse mix of beer to fit nearly any taste. I was impressed by a few of the beers, but my absolute favorite is the Antelope Amber. I’m not normally a huge fan of Ambers, but the dry hopping makes this one unique and flavorful. My next favorite is a tie between the Ice Cutter Kolsch and the Batch 69 Hoppy Wheat Ale. Both are simply easy drinking, complex, tasty beers. Joyride switches out their beer menu about once per week, so the list above may not be exactly what they will have when you stop in. They’re looking at doing limited canning through a mobile canning provider, but that has not been finalized. For now you can only get Joyride’s beer at the brewery. You can purchase a 64oz glass growler for $20, or a 64 oz stainless steel growler for $60. The cost to fill a 64oz growler is $12. You can also purchase a 32oz growler for $8.

I would like to thank Dave Bergen for sitting down and talking craft beer with me. The team at Joyride is extremely knowledgeable, and create a fun environment for beer lovers to enjoy a fresh local brew. I definitely recommend a trip to Joyride for anyone that is looking to try a new brewery. The taproom is a fun, open room that is normally full of people enjoying a beer and a conversation. Denver Westword recently awarded Joyride as the “Best New Brewery Taproom” and the “Best Brewery Taproom Ambiance”. So get some friends together and take a trip down to Joyride Brewing, you won’t be disappointed!

Joyride Brewing Company
2501 Sheridan Blvd
Edgewater, CO 80214
(720) 432-7560

38 State Brewing Company – Littleton, CO

38 State Brewing Company is our first featured brewery in Littleton, CO, and they’re also the first brewery/taproom located in Littleton. The name 38 State Brewing is in honor of Colorado becoming the 38th state to join the union in 1876. I had the opportunity to get some background information on 38 State Brewing from Brett Blazek, VP of Marketing, and one of the 4 part owners of the brewery. 38 State Brewing Logo

38 State Brewing started much like everyone else (homebrewers), and decided to take their passion for brewing to the next level after friends and family gave them ample amounts of positive feedback about their product. Initially they began brewing as a hobby, never thinking it would escalate to anything more than that, but friends can be quite persuasive, so they decided to take 38 State to the next level and open their very own brewery.

38 State Brewing is currently located at 8071A S. Broadway in Littleton, which makes them the very first brewery/taproom in the city. 38 State is strictly a brewery, so they don’t have the capability of preparing any food on site (like the Old Mill Brewery/Restaurant – also in Littleton). The team at 38 State is quite excited to be labeled with the distinction as Littleton’s first true brewery/taproom, and look to cater to those locals who have desperately wanted a place to call their own. The brewery and taproom is located just north of C-470 & Broadway.

The four owners of 38 State Brewing are: Mike and Kim Keating, Jason Virzi, and Brett Blazek. When you take a married couple, high school friends, and literal neighbors… and put all of that together, along with their backgrounds (Mike – Master Gardener, Kim – CFO of a payment processing company, Jason – Aviation Project Manager, and Brett – a humble school teacher), you get the heart and soul of 38 State Brewing Company! 38 State Brewing is glad they could come together and give Littleton something that it has been missing, and hope they will continue to do so for decades to come. In my visit with Brett Blazek, it was evident there is a ton of passion behind what is being done at 38 State Brewing. Great beer, good friends, and a fun place to get together is how I would describe what the owners of 38 State have created.

38 State is about as small as a nano-brewery can get. The brewery is currently running a one-barrel system made by Ruby Street Brewing (out of of Fort Collins). Head brewer, Mike Keating, along with two assistant brewers put in long hours the one-barrel system to ensure that 38 State can meet the demand of its patrons. 38 State opened to the public on May 10, 2014 and had such a positive turnout that they actually went light on a couple of their beers due to demand being so high. This was great news for the brewery, but meant that they would have to crank up the production schedule.

38 State Logo

38 State Brewing’s  logo – spray painted mural in the taproom

The team at 38 State is quite fond of their little one-barrel system as it allows them to not only produce their staple beers, but gives them the freedom to try new things, recipes, ideas, etc. knowing that if lightning doesn’t strike, they’re only out one barrel as opposed to twenty. This freedom and creative approach is what they began with back in the garage while homebrewing, and they continue to keep the same thought process day in and day out. One of the many things that 38 State is proud of is the truly “hands-on” approach to what they do. According to Brett Blazek, “Each day our grains are milled by hand, and that hands-on process doesn’t leave until that beer is poured into a guest’s glass. Milling, steeping, stirring, transferring, pouring… it’s all done (by hand) by our fantastic staff who understands what it takes to make a great pint of craft brew.” Brett Blazek 38 State Brewing

The Beer: In addition to the list below, 38 State plans to constantly introduce new styles to keep their beer selection fresh and different. Since their opening they’ve also showcased a small batch of Broadway IPA (a traditional IPA), and have two others debuting within 10 days time. As Brett Blazek puts it, “Again, we have this creativity per our one-barrel system, and we couldn’t be more excited to give the people something new time and time again.”

One thing I think is really cool about 38 State Brewing is that they’re still figuring out which beers are the most popular. Since they’ve only been open about a month, they’re taking feedback from patrons to figure out which beers should become a staple. Visitors of 38 State have the distinct opportunity to help shape future beer offerings by trying different beers, and providing feedback to the staff. It’s pretty cool that the people coming in to try a fresh craft beer, may also be the reason one of 38 State’s beers becomes a local favorite.

38 State’s current stable of beers consists of a little something for everyone. Keep in mind that with the current system, styles will be rotating frequently. The beer listed below may not be available tomorrow. The good thing is that overall, 38 State brews awesome beer, so you’ll be able to pick at least 1-2 that you’ll really enjoy when you visit.

Beer List:

  • Golden Lemon-Honey Wheat: This beer is created using fresh lemons, organic lemon juice and local Colorado honey. This American style Wheat beer has a crisp and refreshing taste that will help you get through the dog days of summer – or any time of year! Not too tart, not too sweet, we dare you to have just one! ABV 5.4%
  • ColorAmber Amber Ale: This American style Amber Ale focuses heavily on the special blend of both Munich and Biscuit malts which create a flavorful beer that is unbelievably drinkable. Add to that the pairing of Fuggle and Willemette hops, and you have an Amber Ale complete with superb taste and feel, making it a truly well-balanced session beer. ABV 4.3%
  • Great Plains Scottish Ale: This ale undergoes an extensive boil to help achieve its remarkable flavor and crisp bronze color. The high levels of fermentable sugar in conjunction with the gentle hop balance make this beer a special blend of savory malts and rich aromas that is sure to satisfy. ABV 6%
  • Two Buttes Double IPA:  A brew for serious hop heads! This robust and genuinely flavorful Double IPA is inspired by the old world style of brewing, making it a favorite amongst beer drinkers. A strong Double IPA, this beer endures a lengthy boiling process to guarantee maximum flavor from its special blend of grains. This recipe’s meticulous attention to detail of both malt and hops creates a “beast” of a beer. ABV 9.2%
  • Chocolate Stout: This is a very creative recipe inspired by both classic English and Irish stouts. We use an awesome blend of chocolate and coffee malts. This stout is lightly hopped to complement the roasted flavors unleashed during the boiling process which leads to an easy drinking beer. ABV 6.5%
  • Littleton Kolsh: This one’s brand new! We’ll have a description and ABV soon!
  • Chocolate Oatmeal Stout: Chocolaty, a little smokey from the oatmeal, and a good choice for fans of stouts.
  • Dunkelweizen: Dark in color, smooth, refreshing beer for a hot day. Well, any day really.
  • Lunch Pale Ale: A great summer Pale Ale with a subtle hoppy flavor. This is a great beer for someone that may have avoided hoppy beers in the past. Try this one out, and you will see what you’ve been missing.
  • ESB: A smooth ESB, with a subtle bitterness.
  • IPA: We didn’t try this one, but it will be back soon.

After visiting 38 State Brewing, and sitting down with part owner, Brett Blazek, I can say without a doubt that beer drinkers will enjoy visiting the first brewery and taproom in Littleton. The atmosphere is inviting and the feel of the taproom is unique. 38 State is located in an area that is predominantly automotive. There are repair shops, dealerships, and other automotive business close by. The building they’re located in is actually an old garage that has been revamped, and now has the feel of a modern cabin. There’s nice woodwork on the walls, flights are served on hand-crafted wooden serving trays, and the old garage doors open to give the taproom an outdoor feel. Of course, if you want to sit outside, there is a nice patio in the front as well. It’s fitting that 38 State opened in an old garage, as that is how the owners began brewing together years ago. I look forward to seeing the growth of 38 State Brewing, and will definitely be heading back to try more of their outstanding Colorado craft brews. Check them out at the link below.

38 State Brewing Company LLC
8071A S. Broadway
Littleton, CO 80122

Ironworks Brewery & Pub – Lakewood, CO

Ironworks logo - FINALIronworks Brewery & Pub is located in Lakewood, CO on Alameda Pkwy. Ironworks sits on the eastern edge of Green Mountain, a popular area for mountain bikers and hikers, and is only a 15 minute drive from Downtown Denver. Ironworks has been brewing craft beer for nearly 25 years, or as they describe themselves, “Suppliers of great beer to all beer drinkers of Lakewood, Colorado, since 1989” (

Ironworks Brewery & Pub was opened by a working class, blue collar iron worker that loved beer, and saved enough money to open his own brewery. The atmosphere at Ironworks is a direct reflection of the original owner’s blue collar roots, and has an industrial, hard-working feel. You’ve probably seen a movie where the main character works hard with their hands all day and can’t wait for the day to end. On the way home they stop at the local pub for a fresh beer from the tap, and have a beer with all of the other hard-working folks from the neighborhood. Ironworks could be the set for this type of scene. While Ironworks has an industrial, tough as nails appearance, their beer is outstanding, and as fresh as you will find anywhere in town.

Ironworks Brewery

Owner, Mike Mader (left), Master Brewer, Mike George (right)

I was able to meet with Owner, Mike Mader, and Master Brewer, Mike George. It was great to find out the background of the name, and the history of Ironworks Brewery & Pub. Ironworks was the first craft brewery in Lakewood, CO, and went nearly 25 years as the only brewery in Lakewood (Caution Brewing opened earlier this year). Ironworks has great history, and is a staple to those living in the Green Mountain area. The brewing equipment at Ironworks is the same equipment that was originally used in 1989. While the equipment is the same, ownership has changed, and the production at Ironworks is on the rise. Mike George was proud to share that Ironworks averaged 350 barrels per year, prior to last year. In 2013, Ironworks produced 852 barrels of beer! The goal is to increase this number in 2014, while keeping the same great quality that Ironworks currently offers its loyal beer drinkers.

Mike George has been brewing at Ironworks for two years. Prior to that he was a regular patron at Ironworks. Mike decided he wanted to try his hand at brewing, and started training at Estes Park Brewery. New to brewing, Mike worked at Estes Park Brewery and at Ironworks in order to learn as much as he could, often putting in 90 hour weeks. Eventually, Mike became the Master Brewer at Ironworks. Mike has been on a mission to improve the quality of all the beer at Ironworks, while also trying out new styles along the way. In my visit with Mike, it was obvious how much he loves beer, and that he puts everything he has into brewing great beer. He’s not happy sticking with the status quot, and is constantly stepping outside the box to try something new.

A cool new addition in 2013 was a hop garden in the back of the building at Ironworks. Ironworks has been busy growing hops of different varieties that will eventually be used in some of the beer at Ironworks. If you’ve never seen hops grown, you’ll have to check out the hop garden at Ironworks. Mike’s passion for hops is not just evident in the hop garden. He’s working on a coop with 30+ breweries in the Denver area to ensure they have great hops available to them. There have been shortages of hops in the past, that have made it difficult for some smaller breweries to have the hops they need. To find out a little about Mike’s hop coop, check out this link:

The Beer! Ironworks has 9 beers available at this time. They rotate seasonals in addition to their regular lineup. Ironworks has a good assortment of different styles, and there is something for nearly any taste in beer. My neighbor, a beer lover and someone that visits a different brewery each week, says his favorite beer of any brewery he’s visited is the Green Mountain Pale Ale. I agree with him, the Green Mountain Pale Ale is an outstanding beer. Below is a full list of the current beers at Ironworks Brewery & Pub:

  • Alameda Amber (5.1% ABV): Employees and patrons have been having fun with this one! The Alameda Amber is an approachable blend of nutty malt character and a touch of citrus hops. It is a good all-around ale “with training wheels”. The hops won’t knock you out; nor will the malt sweetness glue your mouth shut. You will enjoy the subtle addition of Rye and Honey Malts that round out Alameda Amber.
  • Agave Wheat (5.4% ABV): Everyone’s favorite easy going style just got a new twist! This wheat beer includes the unique nuance of pure organic Agave Nectar and a hint of lime zest. The result is a sweet yet crisp and refreshing American Wheat. The allure of the agave leaves you wanting more.
  • Golden Crisp IPA (6% ABV):
  • Raspsody Rye Pale Ale (5.1% ABV)
  • Green Mountain Pale Ale (5.5% ABV): For those that enjoy hops but can’t commit to the extremes of India Pale Ale, we offer Green Mountain Pale. This Pale Ale is a pleasant blend of malt and hops. Enjoy the heady, mouthwatering aroma of citrussy domestic hops without the debilitating alcohol content. At 5.5% ABV, it won’t put you under the table before you’re ready!
  • Hop Killa IPA (6.8% ABV): The “Hop Killa” defies hop shortages, bringing you the resiny citrus blast that you crave in an American IPA. This beer has a fresh, clean hop presence that will leave you wanting more.Flavor and aroma additions include Summit, Mt, Hood, Northern and Columbus hops.
  • Krausen Kolsch
  • Chocolate Milk Stout (7% ABV)
  • The Bitchen’ Belgian White (5% ABV)

Ironworks brewed 32 different styles of beer in 2013. They plan on brewing 40 styles in 2014, as they’re constantly looking to try new things. The beer at Ironworks is extremely fresh. It goes straight from the fermentation vessels to the serving vessels, then over to the tap! At this time, Ironworks does not distribute their beer outside of the pub. They do fill growlers, or any 64 oz container for $11 (IPAs are $12.50). If you want to purchase an Ironworks growler, they go for $5.

Recently a bet between Colorado and California Congressmen included an Ironworks brew. If the Denver Broncos had lost to the San Diego Chargers last week, Ironworks would have sent their Pigskin Porter to California Congressman Scott Peters. According to Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter, “In Colorado, craft beer is as important as water to economic and job growth in our communities. As a Colorado Native, I’m confident the Broncos are going to Sic ‘Em when the Pigskin crosses the goal line.” While the Broncos won, and Ironworks didn’t ship off any of their beer, it’s pretty cool that they were included in this bet. I think it speaks to the quality of the beer at Ironworks that they were included in such a high profile bet.

Activities: Ironworks has many activities throughout the week. Below is a list of the activities included at Ironworks.
– Monday: Trivia Night
– Monday, Wednesday: Free Pool
– Tuesday: Service Industry Night
– Thursday, Sunday: Karaoke
– Saturday: Live Music

I had a fun visit with Mike George and Mike Mader at Ironworks Brewery & Pub. I was able to try out some of their beer, and really enjoyed the Battlecat Black IPA, and Green Mountain Pale Ale! Ironworks is a great example of a Colorado craft brewery that brews awesome small batch beers! I highly recommend visiting Ironworks, you will not be disappointed!

Ironworks Brewery & Pub
12354 West Alameda Parkway
Lakewood, CO 80228
Phone: 303-985-5818

Colorado Winners: 2014 World Beer Cup

The World Beer Cup is put on every other year by The Brewers Association, which is headquartered in Boulder, CO. The World Beer Cup is a popular event among brewers and brewing companies, as it brings together the best and brightest in the brewing industry. The 2014 World Beer Cup and Craft Brewers Conference took place in Denver, CO, and included a whopping 4,754 beers, 1,403 breweries from 58 countries and 94 styles of beer! Colorado brewers fared well at the World Beer Cup, bringing home 24 medals (10 Gold, 5 Silver, 9 Bronze).2014-world-beer-cup-banner

According to The Brewers Association, “The mission of the World Beer Cup is to create greater consumer awareness around the world about the quality and diversity displayed by the various beers of the world. The World Beer Cup is dedicated to recognizing both the traditions and innovations shared by the entire brewing industry as well as those customs unique to specific countries and regions. The World Beer Cup also promotes the responsible consumption of beer as an alcohol-containing beverage and urges beer producers and distributors to encourage beer enthusiasts to savor the flavor of beer responsibly.”

Colorado Winners @ The 2014 World Beer Cup:

  • Fruit Beer (57 entries) GOLD: Cherry Kriek, Strange Brewing Co, Denver, CO, SILVER: Apricot Blonde, Dry Dock Brewing Co Aurora, CO
  • Chocolate Beer (51 Entries) GOLD: Shake Chocolate Porter, Boulder Beer Co Boulder, CO
  • Coffee Beer (109 Entries) GOLD: Big Shot Espresso Stout, Twisted Pine Brewing Co – Boulder, CO
  • Indigenous Beer (37 Entries) GOLD: Wild and Crazy Rye, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Boulder,CO / Huntington Beach, CA
    BRONZE: Got Beer, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Boulder, CO / Huntington Beach, CA
  • Wood & Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (112 Entries) BRONZE: Bourbon Barrel Aged Mountain Man, Verboten Brewing – Loveland, CO
  • Baltic-Style Porter (44 Entries) SILVER: The Baltic Gnome, Rock Bottom – Denver, CO
  • American-Style Lager / Light Lager or Pilsener (53 Entries) GOLD: Coors Light, Coors Brewing Co Golden, CO
    BRONZE: Coors Banquet, Coors Brewing Co – Golden, CO
  • American-Style Amber Lager (34 Entries) GOLD: Winterfest, AC Golden Brewing Co – Golden, CO
  • Australasian-Style Pale Ale / International-Style Pale Ale (33 Entries)
    SILVER: River Runners Pale Ale, Eddyline Brewing Buena Vista, CO
  • French & Belgian-Style Saison (91 Entries) GOLD: Saison, Aspen Brewing Co – Aspen, CO
  • Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale (46 Entries) BRONZE: Jean-Claude Van Blond, Wit’s End Brewing Co Denver, CO
  • Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale (41 Entries) SILVER: Deceit, Funkwerks – Fort Collins, CO
  • Ordinary / Special Bitter (37 Entries) GOLD: Sawtooth Ale, Left Hand Brewing Co – Longmont, CO
  • English-Style Brown Ale (49 Entries) BRONZE: No Name, Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co – Glenwood Springs, CO
  • Oatmeal Stout (57 Entries) SILVER: Pure Imagination, Verboten Brewing – Loveland, CO
  • British-Style Imperial Stout (42 Entries) BRONZE: Weapon of Self Destruction Imperial Stout, Riff Raff Brewing Co – Pagosa Springs, CO
  • Irish-Style Red Ale (46 Entries) GOLD: George Killian’s Irish Red, Coors Brewing Co – Golden, CO
  • Foreign-Style Stout (38 Entries) BRONZE: Devil Dog Stout, Red Leg Brewing Co – Colorado Springs, CO
  • American-Style Pale Ale (122 Entries) BRONZE: Featherweight Pale, Cannonball Creek Brewing Co – Golden, CO
  • American-Style Amber / Red Ale (90 Entries) GOLD: Runoff, Odell Brewing Co – Fort Collins, CO
  • World Beer Cup Champion Brewery & Brewmaster – Large Brewing Company
    Coors Brewing Company, Dr. David Ryder – Golden, CO