Updated: Jun 10, 2022
Hello viewers. A few days ago, I went to Denver Colorado to visit my friend Steve for my birthday, and to hike some mountain trails. Craft beers are a part of Colorado's identity, so I took notes on the brews I enjoyed throughout my stay.
Nashville, TN is one of those cities located in the centralized area of the United States that holds the responsibility of hosting travelers from all over the country. Over the years, I have served and bartended for many interesting and dynamic folks from every part of the US, but I’ve found that the most interesting drinking stories seem to come from only a few states in the country, and Colorado is one of them. Coloradoans love to boast about their mountains, their weed, their weather, and their beer. In fact, Colorado is home to over 250 breweries and over 90 distilleries, including Coors, Avery, and New Belgium brewing companies! I’d long ago guessed that the curious imbibing visitor from Colorado's exaggerated stories had quite a bit to do with the state's high elevation and low oxygen level, but I’d now also place a hefty bet that the quality of the malts and hops they source for their brews, the pure, mineral-filtered water they use from the springs and mountains, as well as their rigorous brewing standards and methodology make up the total of the quality of the beers that got remembered. And the weed too, don’t forget about the weed.
There are a few reasons why I took this trip to Denver, the primary one being so I could reconnect with my old friend and high-school-bandmate-turned-web-developer Steve. After I left my bar manager position last year and took some time off, I caught up with Steve over Zoom, and he had mentioned how he now develops websites. I ended up telling him about my plans to form Drink Like Royalty LLC, and he offered to develop my website! I thought, how lucky am I that my friend now works as a web developer. The synchronicity! He is also an avid outdoorsman, and I hadn’t been on a good hiking trip in years. I had some time in my busy schedule between recording drum tracks for Beset. and running Drink Like Royalty, so when Steve offered to host me for a few days, I said “Let’s do this!”, and booked a flight.
When we got to his house from the airport, he handed me a Finkel & Garf Red IPA – floral hops and tart fruit made this a sippable and crisp, almost sour style beer. I should note: the lower oxygen level found at the Denver-high altitude mark is no joke! In the first 48 hours, one beer will hit you like two, and a moderate hike feels like you ran a marathon, so be aware! A couple of days later, we spent a day exploring the Mule Deer and Horseshoe trails at Golden Gate State Park, which was wonderful. On the way home, we stopped for a beer at Cannonball Creek Brewing Company (www.cannonballcreekbrewing.com) in Golden, Colorado. We got there, and Basic Kneads Pizza truck was parked out front (perfect), so we ordered a round and a pie (www.basickneadspizza.com). Steve had Cannonball's Mind Bender West Coast IPA. He said it was hoppy and smooth, landing somewhere between floral and piney. There was a sharp grapefruit taste on the tongue. I had the Strat Boy Dry-Hopped Pilsner. Dry, crisp, and slightly hoppy, it was a good first round before consuming a pizza topped with sausage, onion, rosemary, and olive oil. I had the Octavio Vienna Lager for my second round. It impressed me by keeping its original effervescence as I drank through it. It was pretty malty, with slight notes of burnt toffee sugar and a wonderful red-amber color to round out an enjoyable brew.
My favorite beer from the entire trip was the Octavio Lager. I personally enjoy lager style beers,
so this one naturally took the top spot for me. It was wonderful as a palate cleanser after some food. I could enjoy a couple of those beers over an evening of discussion with a friend, or even with a late dessert!
After seeing the rather unignorable presence of craft beers and breweries within Colorado's culture, I will be sure to plan out an extra day or two the next time I visit Denver so I can do some more brewery/distillery hopping! Thanks again to Steve for making this trip happen, also for this wonderful Drink Like Royalty website. Drop me an email if you want to get in contact with him for your web development needs! He’s a pro.
Leave a comment below of anywhere else you think is a primary drinking state in the US! Maybe your state has what it takes to place in the top (or bottom) 5, depending on how you look at it.
Until then, cheers! 🍻
A panorama of Dillon Reservoir in Summit County, Colorado
A different view of Dillon Reservoir
Loveland Pass and views from the Horseshoe trail in Golden Gate State Park, respectively
My buddy Steve and I, and more scenes from Golden Gate State Park
Basic Kneads Pizza: The "Wiseguy" - olive oil, mozzarella, sausage, onion, and fresh rosemary.
A view of the taproom at Cannonball Creek Brewing Company.
From left to right: the West Coast IPA, Strat Boy Pilsner, and Octavio Lager.
Video showing the Octavio Lager's bold effervescence