Beer in Denver

This is long overdue, but it’s time to examine the beers that we imbibed in Denver!  We were pretty busy with wedding activities, so you’ll have to forgive us for not having the same, comprehensive list that we created in Beer in Portland.

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Obligatory(??) Coors at a Red Rocks concert- Tap the Rockies 🙂

We lived in the Capitol Hill/Five Points area, and we prefer to explore breweries within walking distance (for obvious reasons).  We also like dog friendly breweries so the pup can join us for a brew after a hike!  However, we found that the week we moved to Denver, the health department said Dogs were no longer allowed in breweries [or patios]!  Boo, Denver.  This was enforced even on patio areas, where the dog needed to be outside the gates.  Don’t get me wrong- I don’t need the dog around all time, I prefer her like while we’re eating, but when we want to grab a beer after a hike (when we have her along), it would be nice to sit on the patio because she can’t stay in the car on those sunny, hot Colorado afternoons.

Denver does have a healthy brewing scene.  The difference here is that you will not always find them filled with bearded beer connoisseurs that spend a good portion of their income on beer; on the contrary, Denver breweries are full of beautiful, young, polo-wearing yuppies!  And if I were a brewery/taproom business owner, this would not be a bad thing.  I’m just saying, it’s not our scene.

Grandma’s House is an eclectic stop on Broadway, South of downtown Denver.  The whole area is very hip and up-and-coming.  This place features doilies on the tables, rocking chairs, and a Super Nintendo on an old tube TV.  The beers are solid, though the smaller production can make it tough to try everything they produce.  Order some take-out from some of the restaurants in the area; we ordered from Maria’s Empanadas, which was a great combo with the beer.

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Crocheted taps at Grandma’s House

Ratio was a good example- a Saturday afternoon will have you in the middle of a Match.com meetup, dodging happy peddlers, and looking for a table so you can sip the delicious suds without having a bro talk about how crazy last night was and how great tonight will be (see the background of the photo).  Ratio has solid offerings, and there are many breweries in crawling distance in this RiNo area, so check it out.  We had wings from a food truck posted out front, settled me down a bit about the other patrons.  There is one plus- we ended up talking to a professional “grower” for 20 minutes or so- God bless Colorado’s lax weed laws.

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Epic Brewing hit a good note for me.  It’s also in the RiNo area and features a large brewery and tap room.  They have a big fireplace which would surely be wonderful to huddle around in the cold Colorado winters.

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Lost Highway brewery is on the Colfax, “the longest, wickedest road”, just East of downtown.  We enjoyed this hole-in-the-wall feeling, chill brewery.  It has a small-er facility and brew with some interesting ingredients- They do an almond porter where they actually start with almonds and not just extracts, pretty cool.  It was a great spot to run for some weeknight brews.  They also will can 32 oz “crowlers” right in front of you–this is a tall-boy that would be easy to take on a weekend camping trip.

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Twisted Pine in Boulder is a nice stop after tackling some foothills mountains in the area.  It is just East of the downtown area and offers a good selection of food with decent beers.  We did this with Beth’s parents one lazy Saturday afternoon.

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Great Divide has been brewing in downtown Denver for quite some time, and puts out solid beers.  It’s a busy place, but you should be able to find a spot as long as a giant bike group hasn’t just walked in to celebrate a good ride.

Barrels and Bottles Brewery is another Golden brewery that served decent beers, but the more interesting feature is the wine dispensing system they use–very high tech!

Mountain Toad in Golden offered some good beers and a solid selection of rotating food trucks!  This is actually the place we went to get the pizza food truck, Basic Kneads to cater our wedding- delicious!  Dogs are everywhere here, since it is not in Denver and does not need to adhere to the Denver No-Dog policy.

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Avery has quickly become one of my favorite breweries, period.  They just do really good beer, all round.  We took down quite a few of them on this list; including my favorite here, the 17% Imperial Stout with Espresso- Tweak!  The brewery was packed with people, but the servers are really good at finding you when you arrive, so it was a pleasant experience despite having to eat while sitting on a bench; which reminds me- great, upscale food!

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Declaration has a beautiful patio area and nice indoor spot about 4 miles South of Denver.  Solid beer, and great place to hang out on a sunny weekend day (dogs are NOT allowed, unfortunately, since it’s still in the Denver metro area).

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During our wedding we did some 5.5 gal pony kegs of Upsloap Pale Ale and Great Divide Titan IPA.  Sorry no pics, not even the keg stands… 😀

 

Greece Island hopping

[This is the second half of our honeymoon!  Sit back and enjoy, we sure enjoyed doing this. -Matt]

After our week in Africa, we hopped on a plane headed to the Mediterranean. Greece has been at the top of Beth’s travel bucket list for as long as she can remember so this was literally a dream come true. We had initially planned to spend the first half of the week in Athens and then the latter half in Istanbul, but with all the unrest in Turkey we decided to extend our stay in Greece and travel to some of the islands instead. We ended up visiting Crete, Santorini, and Athens; all of them were beautiful and so different from each other despite being in such close proximity. Our main goal was to relax and enjoy ourselves with not much on our itinerary.

Our first stop was Crete, which is large enough to spend an entire week exploring. We took a flight from Athens to Heraklion and stayed right on the Gulf of Heraklion in the Sea of Crete. Our hotel room overlooked the port so we saw ferries coming and going all day. We stayed at the GDM Megaron and loved it. Our first day there started slowly with an indulgent breakfast – this hotel had one of the best continental breakfast spreads we’ve ever seen, including house-made confections and any specialty coffee you’d like –  and some time at the rooftop pool. The weather was hot and humid but the water was refreshing.

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Rooftop pool in Heraklion, Crete, Greece

From there we decided to explore the city on foot. Heraklion is a large metropolis with lots of people and shops. We found a Greek coffee roaster and picked up some beans to take home with us. While wandering around we stumbled upon an old bastion around the city. Since we were the only ones there, we ended up spending the entire day walking along the bastion and viewing the city from above. It encircled the city and ended at the water where we dipped our toes before eating some fresh seafood and gyros. The food in Greek was so fresh and delicious. That evening we found a small beach and went swimming; it was crowded even at 8pm! The water was so salty, calm, and buoyant that we were able to float without exerting much energy. It was incredibly peaceful and a lot a fun.

[The Greek coffee at this roaster left a bit to be desired, but we use it for some good cold brew once we add a bit of coconut milk. -Matt]

We had read that the Samaria Gorge was one of the must do things in Crete, so the next day we drove across the island to do the 11 mile hike. Let’s just say, before we even made it to the trailhead we knew our time would’ve been better spent staying in Heraklion. The drive itself was about 3 hours, which should’ve tipped us off to skip this adventure, but the hikers in us pushed on. The trail was relatively easy: it was very rocky and a bit technical, but it was all downhill. We finished the 11 miles in under 3 hours. The trail ends in Agia Roumeli where we had some ice cream and dipped our feet into the Libyan Sea. From there we had to take an hour long ferry ride to Sougia followed by a 2-ish hour bus ride back to the trailhead. It was an exhausting day to say the least. Overall we would NOT recommend the hike unless you’re staying in Chania and have more than 2 days on the island.

[I agree- if you have only a few days in Crete, skip the all-day (and expensive) trip to Samaria Gorge.  And if you have been to a place like the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, you have seen better, in my opinion. -Matt]

From Crete we took a 2 hour ferry ride to Santorini. Santorini is idyllic Greece and is likely what you picture in your head when you hear the word. We had a little issue with the rental car company, which ended with us being charged a ridiculous amount for a Smart Car, but that’s a story for another day. We stayed in Oia surrounded by gorgeous whitewashed cave houses topped with bright blue domes. Matt booked us an amazing cave house in Finikia, just a short walk to Oia. If we had more time here (sadly we only had about 30 total hours) we would’ve gladly holed up in the cave. These houses were former wineries and maintained much of the original structure including large vats in the floors used to collect the grape juices.

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Santorini, Greece – This is one of the postcard views

We trekked down 300 stairs to Amoudi Bay and swam in the warm waters (highly, highly recommended if you go), ate fresh fish at a restaurant on the water, and watched the gorgeous sunset on our way back up. It gets very crowded at sunset because it’s apparently a very famous spot to watch, so restaurants fill up and the narrow streets get packed like sardines. Before we had to leave the next day we stopped for some beer at Santorini Brewing Company – we tasted the Red Donkey, Yellow Donkey, and Crazy Donkey (our favorite of the bunch) and took a bottle of Slow Donkey (a wine barrel aged brew) to enjoy outside.

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Sunset in Santorini; how romantic!

Our last stop of the vacation was Athens. We stayed in downtown and were walking distance to everything. Our hotel had a spectacular view of the Acropolis; it’s pretty amazing to have breakfast and cocktails surrounded by ancient ruins. We spent most of our time in Athens leisurely exploring the city on foot. Our first full day we went to the Acropolis – word of warning it is very crowded in the morning. We ended up paying more for a private tour because the line was so long, but if you go later in the day there is practically no line. Between the Parthenon, the temples, and the theaters (which are still used for concerts!) we were in awe the whole time. The amount of architecture they’ve preserved is amazing – in order to restore the buildings they must have 70% of the original structure. [You can see the restored pieces are much more white-colored than the original pieces which are more yellow/beige -Matt]

We spent a couple of hours walking around the grounds and exploring some of the sights not pointed out on the tours. If you walk around the perimeter there are caves to the gods, churches from the Turkish rule, and so much more. [You HAVE TO walk round the perimeter of the Acropolis, around the Festival Road, since so much of it is off the beaten track, but still so much a part of the history of the Acroplis-Matt]

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Heavy construction on the front side of the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis

Walking down the street you’re likely to see some ancient ruins preserved right next to a modern high rise; the juxtaposition was unreal. We visited the gardens and walked around the Agora as well. We ate a lot, napped a little, and capped off our evenings with a glass of wine or Ouzo just enjoying the last of our vacation and the start of married life.

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Acropolis night shot from our hotel rooftop bar

Combined with Africa, this truly was a trip of a lifetime and one we’ll never forget.  [It was a long trip to get from South Africa to Greece, which had it’s own story to it, but it was truly beautiful and we are glad we had such a diverse experience even in the short time we had for the honeymoon. -Matt]

 

Aspen Wedding

We finally got our wedding photos back!! The day started a little hectic with furniture rearranging and last-minute cake icing, and ended with photobooth shenanigans and bride and groom keg stands. Suffice to say it was perfect.

Aside from a few sprinkles when we left the house, the weather was absolutely perfect: sunny and warm. Our ceremony was at Maroon Bells, which provided a breathtaking backdrop, and our reception was at our rental house. It was an intimate, low-key affair and we loved every minute of it.

Rather than rambling on and on, I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Maroon Bells Amphitheater
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Just married

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A HUGE thank you to our friends and family for your continued support and for making the long trip out to celebrate with us. And to Katrina for capturing these beautiful photos, and the wonderful people at Basic Kneads for making sure no one was hungry.

If you’d like to peruse the whole gallery, you can find it here. Password is bells25.

The End of Denver

Well, our Denver adventures have come to a close. While I’m sure it will always hold a special place in our hearts (it is where we got married, after all), we were definitely ready to end this chapter. We’re settling in for a couple of very busy months, but wanted to give Denver its final farewell.

Denver Report Card

Food C+
Beer B
Walkability C
Cost C-
Weather A+
Parks B-
Activities C
Overall C+

Oh Denver…where to start? We knew at the start of this adventure that Denver would be a stop – it was actually our only planned destination; it just made sense with the wedding being in Aspen and we couldn’t wait for summer in the mountains. As excited as we were to come here, it’s no secret that we just didn’t love Denver. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why we didn’t like it; maybe it’s because we came from Portland – which we loved – or maybe we just had our expectations too high.

I will give Denver this: the weather is top notch. It’ll be hard spending summers anywhere else after this. While it did get hot (upper 90s), the low humidity made it bearable if not downright enjoyable. We also loved the hiking; the foothills of the Rockies were just a short drive away, and we took full advantage of hiking nearly every weekend we had. Unfortunately the food and beer scene left us wanting more. While there is no shortage of breweries or restaurants, all of the restaurants seemed to have the exact same menu – American fare – which to two cultural food junkies was just meh. The breweries were good, and we would definitely go back to Avery (Matt said it might be his favorite brewery of all time), most of them were large and corporate, not like the local craft breweries we love in Portland and Asheville. There are lots of parks and open spaces in the city, and we enjoyed going to Cheesman and City Parks to let Snickers run around. Our biggest drawback to Denver as a whole was the car-centricity and total disregard for pedestrians. As frequent pedestrians, we often felt like we were walking on interstates just to go the 1 mile to downtown, and probably couldn’t even count the number of times we almost got run over by cars or bikes taking over the sidewalks. At home, we typically don’t drive unless we have to, but here we had to drive pretty much everywhere. In fact, going the 5 miles to the gym often took upwards of 45 minutes – that’s how crazy traffic is.

Would we go back? For a week to ski or hike, sure. Would we live there? Not unless we had to. We do love the mountains, though, so maybe we’d try Boulder on for size.

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Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers

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Declaration Brewing
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Afternoon cocktails at Avanti
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Hiking Twin Sisters
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Concert at Red Rocks

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