Brewery Travels #35: Denver, CO

A review of the craft beer breweries in Denver, Colorado

After spending time on the West Coast, it’s easy to get swept up in the amazing beer cities close to the Pacific. San Diego, Portland, Seattle, the list is quite impressive. Smaller cities tend to dominate the East Coast, such as Burlington (VT), Asheville (NC), Richmond (VA), and Portland (ME). Down south? Austin and to a lesser extent Nashville. And the Midwest has an explosive craft scene, from Grand Rapids and Cincinnati, to the Twin Cities, Chicago, and Milwaukee. But in the Mountain Time Zone, one city reigns king. Denver, CO. Set against the Rocky Mountains, the Mile High City is considered by most to be one of the top beer destinations in the country. Not only do they host the largest beer festival every year (GABF), but there is a plethora of breweries in and around the city. I unfortunately only had a couple nights here, but hope to someday return to dive deeper into the beer! For now, here were the four places that stuck out the most to me.

  1. Woods Boss Brewing: Denver, CO
  2. Ratio Beerworks: Denver, CO
  3. Epic Brewing: Denver, CO
  4. WestFax Brewing: Lakewood

Woods Boss

If you have read previous articles, you may have picked up that I am a fan of woodsy-themed taprooms that remind you of a rustic lodge. Well, as the name suggests there is definitely some of that at Woods Boss! Right in downtown Denver within walking distance of Coors Field, it’s an older brick building, but logs take over once you are inside. From the entrance and variety of tables, to the bar area complete with stick tap handles, it’s a gorgeous taproom. Saws are mounted up on one wall, and if you walk to the back you can view the brewery itself. Another note is that they support various partner organizations, many of which are local. Also, every time a piece of merchandise is purchased 10 trees are purchased. The sign up in the taproom said they had planted 560 trees at the time of my visit.

Delicious, diverse beer. It was tough to select a favorite from the 5 from my flight, but I’ll go with The Dreams That Stuff Are Made Of, a farmhouse ale. Really nice funk to this crisp offering. For my sour, I had Fruity Flash, which combined two fruits you don’t see forming an alliance often. Pineapple and blackberries mix in with three hop varieties (Ekuanot, Mosaic, and Centennial) to provide a refreshingly unique take on a kettle sour. Another unique choice was Start’n Early w/Chilis, a lager that showcases the chilis by letting them build without the drink becoming overly spicy. The Oswald was a NEIPA that features 10 lbs of rolled oats along with the hops. It’s a tropical experience, as I picked up notes of citrus, papaya, and mango. Finally, One For The Dogs was my dark beer, a sweet stout with coffee. Coffee seems to sit more in the front of the tongue than on the nose.

I enjoyed my stop at Woods Boss for several reasons. The location, the décor, the atmosphere, and most importantly the beer; everything was to my liking. There are a few other breweries (Great Divide and Jagged Mountatin) within walking distance as well, so you can make a day of exploring the neighborhood!


Located in the RiNo district that bumps up to downtown, Ratio is shacked up in the former Mile High Spirits building, which also served as a muffler shop in a previous life. If you visit the website, you can read a little history on the founders that brought Ratio to life, including a past heavily influenced by music. Walking up you see the large outdoor space off the side of the building with a large colorful mural looking down on those sitting in the fresh air. Inside is nice and open with plenty of more colors and hanging above it all is a small disco ball! You can also select from a variety of merchandise hanging up on one of the walls as well. The 20 bbl system sits in the back behind some glass double doors, allowing a brief glimpse behind the scenes.

And behind those scenes some good beer is made. Hold Steady squeaked out the victory for my top pick. This dark scotch ale is brewed with Novo Coffee (which is local to Denver). The malt character sticks in front before allowing the dark coffee to slip in behind. New Wave was a well-crafted strawberry berliner weisse. While the tartness is key, it punches hardest with the berries, making this a fruit lovers choice for sure. My IPA choice was the balanced Antidote that features both Centennial and Mandarina Bavaria hops. Solid West Coast style offering. My final two were both a little different. Dear You, a French Saison, and Handwritten, a Belgian Abbey Wit, both provide a nice change of pace from a normal flight. I preferred Handwritten, as it was bright and slightly tart with a somewhat bready finish.

Ratio is one of many breweries that have made the RiNo district a great beer destination. And if you want to remember your visit? Well they have a photo booth to snap a memory!


Editor's Note: 
Sommbeer writers have been here before!

Speaking of the RiNo district, Epic is a mere block and a half away from Ratio. Technically their original location is 517 miles away in Salt Lake City, UT, but in 2013 they expanded and added a facility in the Rocky Mountain State. And unlike the Utah location where odd beer regulations affect the taproom, in Denver there are no such restrictions. I was introduced to Epic before we started traveling, as their Tart & Juicy Sour IPA was the first time I tried that specific style and fell in love with it. So I wanted to visit the source! And they have a beautiful spot in Denver, with a large taproom complete with local art, a fireplace, and a beer to-go cooler greeting you up by the merchandise corner. And while they do not have their own food, they do often feature food trucks.

I already mentioned Tart & Juicy in the above paragraph, but that was not one of the choices I sampled while visiting. To tame my thirst for tartness, I ordered a Jammy Dark Berry Sour, a taproom exclusive. This one leans quite heavily on blueberries and boysenberries, and ‘jams’ your senses pretty good. The hoppy selection was a NEIPA called Drama Juice, which is brought to life by simcoe and comet hops. Dank, ripe fruits (especially mango and passionfruit), and a little citrus churn together. The big beer that took over my palate was Son of a Baptist, a Coffee Stout. There is a Baptist Collection that features several iterations that transform the original into a variety of Imperial Stouts (usually aged in some kind of barrel with other additives). I however stuck with the basic Baptist, and the soft coffee notes build as you sip and enjoy this 8%er.

Epic is a great addition to any Denver beercation, and the fact that it’s in the extremely walkable RiNo neighborhood makes it a perfect place to enjoy a night (or two) out.


The first three discussed were all right near downtown Denver. Now we venture a little West (though not too far) to the suburb of Lakewood. Part of the Lamar Station Plaza, WestFax doesn’t exactly stand out if you are driving down Colfax Avenue. But they excel at the most important part of a brewery: the beer. The area they are in has recently underwent some changes and is now known as the 40 West Arts District. To support this movement, you can find local art inside the taproom. The most unique part of the taproom is the amble Buffalo Bills memorabilia located up by the bar. This is prevalent because the founder is originally from western New York and still supports his team after moving. Other than that, the taproom is a nice, straight-forward space, and there was a food truck out front when I visited for hungry patrons.

On to the best part. The 7 bbl brewhouse dishes out a variety of brews. Three of the four I had in my flight were quite good, with Urban Lumberjack IPA taking the lead. Seven hops join forces in this juicy, hazy NEIPA, as the more common flavors of orange peel and mango are greeted by some nectarine that is especially present on the nose. Scottish Ales can be somewhat hit and miss for me, and Tears of our Enemies was in the former category. A big, strong malty background leads to a lightly toasted experience. And the sour fan in me enjoyed Peaches Be Crazy, a (no shocker) peach sour that balanced out the robust peach notes with a bright tartness. Dark Intent wasn’t my personal cup of tea, as this porter seemed a little muddled, but hey, I can’t like EVERY beer I try.

WestFax is not within that small circle of downtown breweries, but it isn’t that far off the beaten path, especially if you are on the west side of Denver (Mile High Stadium is right down the street). The excellent variety should be mentioned again, you will be sure to find something to your liking!


Denver is a phenomenal beer city. It is certainly a place that I plan on returning to someday, as only visiting seven breweries does not do this metropolis justice. GABF is also on my beer bucket list, so I would assume that a return trip is in the cards. I was fairly impressed with how many breweries were within a decent walk in downtown, as you could visit a new place every day for quite some time without straying too far. Also would like to mention that the natural beauty around Denver is real. Whether you are out hiking in the mountains, working out at Red Rock Amphitheater, or taking in a Rockies games at Coors Field, there are views everywhere you look. And once you include other beer hot spots like Fort Collins and Longmont (which are within an hour), it’s a destination that should be on every list!

Next Article

I have a special article planned for reaching my upcoming milestone of 400 breweries. I will be selecting my favorite brewery from each state that I have visited one in, along with my favorite beer from each state as well. Runner-ups will be mentioned for most as well, and I look forward to sharing some of my top picks from across the country!

Current Brewery Count

384 breweries across 166 cities in 37 states. Numbers current as of 8/11/18. For an up-to-date count and to follow along, check out my social media accounts:

Twitter: @brewerytravels

Instagram: @brewery_travels

Joel Geier

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