The title is not a euphemism. Denver is a great town for wanderers. You can easily skulk around the whole city in a day, and even better, explore a few neighborhoods thoroughly while stumbling around from bar to bar. Just a quick shuffle from the heart of the city you’ll find Great Divide’s original location, still one of my favorite spots. As you head down Arapahoe out of the city, you suddenly start to see a silhouette of fermentation tanks rise in the distance. Next to those tanks, is the tap-room. They also have a gigantic facility with an adjacent tap-room in the River North Neighborhood, but that will be for another post.
Upon walking into the Arapahoe location, the bar in the front room is the first thing you’ll likely see. Next you’ll probably notice a wall of tap handles, all ready to spout off some of Colorado’s finest beers. Walking around the bar reveals a modest back room for tables and additional seating. Glass windows give you a perfect view into the heart of the brew house. They still brew batches here at this location, mostly smaller and specialty batches. The larger facility is where their packaging and high-production beers call home base.
I’m a big fan of the size of the tap-room. A quiet weeknight can be a lot like sitting at your own basement bar with a couple of good friends pouring you beers. Music plays, the staff jokes around and you can strike up a conversation with your neighbor or tuck away into a corner and mind your own business. I used to do a lot of solo brewery hopping when I first moved to Denver, and I almost always met someone new each time I came to Great Divide. In contrast, if you walk in on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll most likely find yourself elbow to elbow with what seems like half of the beer drinking population. I’ve been present for some loud nights sitting at that bar. Yet, these were some of my favorite nights.
Nothing says (nay, screams) “Denver” like sitting back with a Yeti imperial stout in the middle of July. It’s one of the few imperial stouts I can think of that are brewed and served year-round, and it doesn’t hurt that the beer is delicious. If hops are your game, you can go with a Titan IPA or it’s stronger brother, the Hercules Double IPA. Not a fan of the strong stuff? Their Denver Pale Ale is pretty much a staple around the city and completely lives up to the namesake. Into more of a yeast-forward mood? Try their Collette, a fantastic farmhouse ale or Orabelle, their straight up Belgian style ale.
I could go on, but for some things you just need to shut out all of the noise and experience it for yourself. Great Divide should definitely be one of those things.