Black Shirt Brewing operates under the mantra of rebellion. Black shirts are both in their namesake and part of their standard apparel. A huge portrait of Johnny Cash flashes his middle finger to the entire tap room and every single one of their beers is a red ale in some shape or form. Yes, even the dark ones have a certain degree of malts that you would find in a red ale.
How many red ales could one brewery possibly make, you ask? A lot. The last time I saddled up to the bar they had 14 options on the board, each one unique in its own right. They have yeasty, malty, hoppy and sour options. On this particular night, I had tried all of the options except one, a barrel-aged coffee quad leftover from their 4th anniversary celebration. Naturally, I ordered it up.
I love quads, especially after they’ve been able to sit in a barrel for a while. A coffee quad though? It sounded like a unique combo. A rebellious combo. This beer hit your palate immediately with a massive coffee flavor that gave way very quickly to a the sweat bready and mild fruit flavors you come to expect with a well-made quad and finished with the smooth oak aromas. My mind was blown so hard I had to shove my brains back in through my ears.
For the hop heads, they have a blood orange IPA that is phenomenal; more into yeast-forward beers like saisons? Their Stringbender saison is an excellent staple beer, and they just started experimenting with two gigantic foeders that produced an amazing dry hopped foeder-aged version of Stringbender. It’s bright and the citra hops shine through like a beacon of light in a dark forest. Finally, for all you maltsters, you can go for their porter, stout or imperial stout (if you’re lucky enough to be there when it’s on draft).
The brewery itself is an homage to all things art in Denver. The walls are lined with paintings and work from various artists and their back patio showcases bands of all varieties on their stage composed of used pallets. Nothing can beat a cold beer on a warm day in Denver with some live music going on. As one of the early breweries to move into the River North (RiNo to us Denver folk) area, Black Shirt has established themselves well in the heart of a booming neighborhood and are among the best of what Denver has to offer in beer.
Next time you’re feeling a little rebellious (or just thirsty, I guess) in Denver, make the trip over to Black Shirt Brewing and see how many fellow rebels you can spot. Just look for the black shirts.