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Where To Drink In Denver, According To Head Brewer Alyssa Thorpe


Alyssa Thorpe/Getty Image

Welcome to Beer This City! If you dig Eat This City and Drink This City but have always wanted more beer-ness, then this column is for you. We’re talking to brewers to get an in-depth look at the best places to pair amazing beer with exciting food in different cities around the world.

Alyssa Thorpe has come just about as close to mastering the art of brewing as a person her age might ever hope to. She’s dominating the game in Denver, one of America’s great beer cities, acting as the head brewer at a very local-feeling breweryJagged Mountain Craft Brewery. Thorpe is also Jagged Mountain’s biggest fan. She works amongst the tanks and barrels by day, then enjoys a pint or two in their taproom by night.

Thorpe tells us that the beers on tap at Jagged Mountain — each molded by her — range from “crushable German-style Pilsners to cherry sours with imported Japanese cherry blossoms.” There’s also a dope vibe in the spot, wherein you’ll be seated at communal tables that amp up people’s ability to meet new beer-friends and enjoy the best Denver has to offer.

We caught up with Thorpe recently to talk about the brilliance that is the craft beer scene in the Rocky Mountain State’s capital. Denver is having a boom in beer, food, and cocktails right now, and Thorpe is here to make sure you don’t miss the best of the best the next time you’re in town.

Let’s take a beer tour!

Favorite Bottle Shop — LITTLE’S WINES & SPIRITS

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There are honestly so many I think of right off the top of my head, but I’ve always loved our local spot in Englewood, Little’s Wines & Spirits. With a massive beer cave stuffed full of specialty bombers they also get some hard to find out-of-state cans. Every time I go in there’s always something new.

On top of that, they have an awesome, knowledgeable staff and a great selection of wines and specialty liquors. Little’s is hyper-local and hyper-craft.

Classic Brewery/Taproom Experience — GREAT DIVIDE BREWING COMPANY

One of the very first breweries I visited when I moved to Denver was Great Divide Brewing Company. Great Divide is one of the OG’s of Denver. Open since 1994, they still crank out some killer brews. A bright taproom set right in the heart of downtown is a must visit for anyone wanting to start their craft beer journey in Denver.

They recently launched new cans for the simple, yet delicious “Lager.” It’s a beer that I keep coming back to.

Experimental Brewery/Taproom — BLACK PROJECT SPONTANEOUS & WILD ALES

I have always absolutely loved Black Project, a little off the beaten track off South Broadway. It’s a gem. The bar top is made from an old airplane wing to give you an old-school aviation feel. Overall, the taproom has a very laid back “cool” vibe while still being comfortable. If you’re lucky, you can peek in the barrel/coolship room. They have rope lights hung from the ceiling to resemble a starry night. It’s very beautiful.

AND THE BEER…the beer is so delicious. The selection ranges from fruited spontaneous beers, cultured hoppy concoctions, and plenty of new things to try every time you go. The bar staff is top notch, and the music is always on point.

Beer Bar (that’s not a brewery) — FINN’S MANOR

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Finn’s Manor in RiNo is always a favorite. The bar inside takes me to New Orleans — candle lilt and eclectic with shrines and moss. This bar is not only cozy but extremely cool. Regular, out-of-state tap takeovers of sought after beer keep me coming back often.

Getting hungry? The outside portion of Finn’s doubles as a rad food truck park with options to choose from and plenty of seating. This is a hot spot in the summer months.

Dive for Beer — THE BRUTAL POODLE

The Brutal Poodle off South Broadway is always a favorite. It’s a dimly lit, chill bar that also has a killer kitchen with unique dishes. Whether you’re crushing PBRs or getting a locally brewed beer, this is a great place to go for that dive bar feel.

Hotel Bar for Beer – THE WOODS AT THE SOURCE HOTEL

On top of The Source Hotel, New Belgium just recently opened their new Denver beer garden/taproom, The Woods. The space is an elevated rooftop bar for house-made beers and great cocktails. The balcony has unbeatable, Instagram-worthy views of downtown Denver. The spot is still somewhat unknown and is the perfect place to have an intimate beer date.

Protip: Crooked Stave is slinging their deliciously crafted sour beers in the building right beside The Source Hotel.

Fancy Restaurant for Beer — LIBERATI RESTAURANT AND BREWERY

I rarely get too fancy, but Liberati Restaurant and Brewery is a perfect place for high-class Italian dishes and a relatively-new-to-me style of beer called Oenobeer. Combining grapes with grains, Oenobeers are the perfect middle ground for any wine or beer lover.

Dress up and bring a date, or come as you are and sit in the comfortable bar chairs. You’ll definitely find something you’ve never had before.

Place To Eat Pizza and Drink Beer — HOPS & PIE

Hands down, the answer is Hops & Pie off Tennyson in Denver. Not only do they have some of the best pizza in town, they always have an absolutely amazing tap list that surprises me every time. The tap list alone is a draw for all beer nerds out there.

They have a deal every Wednesday for $3 slow pour Pilsners from Bierstadt Lagerhause. When you pair that with the slice of the day for $2, you’ve got one of the best and tastiest deals in town!

Brewery/Taproom Run By A Friend — GOLDSPOT BREWING COMPANY

I’m Lucky to have so many friends in this wonderful industry, but I have to say one of my favorites has always been Goldspot Brewing Company. I came into this brewery the first day I started beer school at Regis University and instantly made friends with the now owner and head brewer, Kelissa Hieber. As a fellow female brewer, she has been a great mentor, collaborator, and all around good person. She’s extremely talented for making highly drinkable beers and makes sure the taproom is welcoming and comfortable.

I can always count on finding a great regular crowd, amazing bartenders, and a new, delicious beer every time I go into Goldspot. Kelissa and I have also been doing regular collaboration beers together, so you can always count on finding our creative stuff at both Goldspot and Jagged Mountain.

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