True story: I was born in Denver. Sadly, aside from birth and two years of childhood, I am far from being an expert on the city of Denver. But, what I lack in knowledge about the city, I make up for with my expertise in partying — errrr, responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Even though I haven’t been going to the Great American Beer Festival for nearly as long as most of my colleagues in the beer industry, I have visited enough to have the down-low on Denver’s coolest bars for craft beer enthusiasts. It is important to note at this time that I am a cross-drinker and that, during GABF, I’m guilty of sipping on cocktails. This might sound sacrilegious, drinking booze during the country’s largest craft beer festival, but I assure you that palate fatigue happens to the best of us and more brewers than you think suffer from cross-drinking tendencies.
Regardless of whether or not you dabble in the spirits realm or only drink beer, I’ve compiled a list of what I think to be THE BEST booze destinations in the city of Denver — especially for craft beer lovers. So if you are headed to GABF this year, make sure to add these bars to your bucket list!
Photo Credit: Denver Nightscape by Dag Peak
10 Best Bars in Denver for Craft Beer Lovers
1919 Blake St.
Even if you’ve never been to GABF, you’ve probably heard of the legendary Falling Rock Taproom. Located a good stumbling distance from the Colorado Convention Center, Falling Rock Taphouse is, by far, the most popular place to be during GABF. Falling Rock not only boasts an always updating tap list of the most coveted and celebrated craft beers in the country, it is also home to some of the most epic and buzz-worthy events during GABF including Dr. Bill’s famous rare beer tasting. Not to mention, I spend about 80% of my GABF trip at Falling Rock — so if you want to find me, look there!
2137 Larimer Street
Located just blocks from Falling Rock, Star Bar is a great destination for cross-drinkers looking for a place to escape from all the hops and perhaps even belt out a song or two (yes kids, this is a karaoke bar on Thursday nights). But, don’t forget your beer swilling friends — Star Bar also boasts an outstanding selection of craft beers both on tap and in the bottle. Can’t choose between a cocktail and a craft beer? No worries! Star Bar is one of Denver’s premier spots to enjoy a really well-made beer cocktail.
1317 14th Street
For those desiring an orgasmic food & beverage experience, look no further than Euclid Hall. Fresh hand-cranked sausages, poutines to die for, and an extensive seafood selection — Euclid Hall is a carnivore foodie’s wet dream. They also have a full liquor license, mixing up some of the best cocktails you will find in Denver. Once again, if you can’t decide between one of their awesome craft beers and a cocktail, no worries! Euclid Hall is also a beer cocktail destination in Denver!
208 South Kalamath Street
For those who partied too hard during the GABF festivities, Rackhouse Pub offers the best hangover deal around: $3 Beermosas and Bloody Marys plus FREE Bacon on Sundays. Now, you don’t have to wait until Sunday to experience the boozalicious awesomeness of the Rack. Not only is the mac & cheese alone worth the visit, Rackhouse Pub is also a whiskey lover’s paradise. Attached at the hip to Stranahan’s Distillery, Rachkhouse boasts a whiskey menu 60+ varieties deep, offering whiskey flights to the experts & novices alike. And you guessed it, the Rack also has beer cocktails!
534 E. Colfax
Belgophiles rejoice! Less cheeky and more monky, the Cheeky Monk is a one stop destination for all things Belgian and beer. If you are a mussel freak, and I’m not talking about WWF, this place is screaming your name. Cheeky Monk is famous for its moules & frites, offering 7 unique award-winning mussel recipes including the ever popular Bacon & Gorgonzola and my personal favorite, the Mulligatawny. Cheeky Monk also serves an extensive selection of Belgian and Belgo-style craft beers, all properly served in their coordinating vessels.
1553 Platte Street
A little ways a way from the Colorado Convention Center activity, the cab fair to Colt & Gray is well worth the cash. Limited release beers, high-end cocktails, world class wines — Colt & Gray is serious about it’s beverage program. But don’t let the booze menu distract you too much, Colt & Gray is also a gastronomy haven. For the meat afficianados, Colt & Gray offers an amazing array of charcuterie — painstakingly made in house. Foie gras, tartare, sweatbreads and bone marrow are also amongst the amazingly decadent meat items on the menu. If there was one place to splurge in Denver, this would be it. Oh yeah, Colt & Gray is yet ANOTHER beer cocktail hot spot.
1530 Blake Street
The name says it all. Fresh food, craft beer and a fun atmosphere, Freshcraft is open early (11am) to help you start your day of beer adventures — or recover from the previous night. And vegetarian beer lovers can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Although the farm-to-table beer destination boasts a menu loaded with tasty meat products, Freshcraft also has a delicious selection of meatless treats including vegan sliders, fried pickles, and quinoa cakes. Hungry after midnight? Freshcraft is one of the only beer spots you will find the serves a late night menu till 1am on Friday and Saturdays. Facing palate fatigue? Freshcraft is yet another destination that offers a great selection of spirits and cocktails!
Located in the Oxford Hotel, 1659 Waze Street
No trip to Denver is complete without a pit stop at this legendary martini bar. The Cruise Room is downtown Denver’s first bar — opened the day after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. Always dark with beautiful Art Deco décor, the Cruise Room is original in its entirety. Now I know what you are thinking; Hot damn girl! All you have done so far is talk about cocktails, do you even drink beer? Well, that is what the actual festival is for, my friends. But, if you are like me and my fellow cross-drinking brewers, your palate gets exhausted after drinking liquid hops, lacto-bombs, and imperial this-that-and-the-other-thing all day and night. If you want to run into la creme de la creme of the beer industry, this cult classic cocktail bar would be the spot.
2201 Arapahoe Street
The list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning at least one brewery stop — and Great Divide tops my list as the best taproom in town. In addition to hosting some cool events during GABF, the Great Divide taproom is the perfect place to guzzle down awesome craft beers. Oh, and I hear it is a great spot for ogling cute beertenders (but don’t take my word for it — wink). Last year, Great Divide expanded its taproom, making it bigger, better and beerier than ever! And for those looking to start their craft beer adventures early, Great Divide is open early at the ripe hour of 10am Thurs-Sat during GABF!
2201 Larimer St.
For those who need that one last drink before calling it a night, Whiskey Bar is the spot for ensuring your arrival in hangover city. But you don’t have to wait until last call to get your whiskey fix, Whiskey Bar offers $3 specials all day every day and a $3 you call it (yes, you read that right — you all the shots) happy hour from 4-7pm. With 200+ whiskeys and a constant streaming of sports, Whiskey Bar is also a great place to escape the madness of GABF to watch “the game” (whatever that may be for you).
But outside of amazing craft beer, awesome food and cocktails, these bars all share something much more important in common — all boast great atmospheres and wonderful people.
As with all lists of this nature, I’m sure there will be a plethora of hemming and hawing and some hurt feelings — which is why encourage leaving feedback in the comment section below!