Reviews: Weldwerks Brewing Company and Brix Taphouse Brewery, Greeley CO

20150228 161959 Reviews: Weldwerks Brewing Company and Brix Taphouse Brewery, Greeley CO

 

 

It’s a lot easier to get loads of views on this site if I say a brewery is fantastic. When a review is glowingly positive the brewery in question will post it on their own website or share it on Facebook or tweet about it…but when the review is bland and forgettable people tend to stay relatively quiet about it.

Such is the case with breweries themselves: if a taproom is amazing people tend to tell their friends, but if it’s run of the mill it’s unlikely they’ll be spreading the word. Sadly, that’s the verdict (for now) on Weldwerks Brewing Company.

 

20150228 162024 Reviews: Weldwerks Brewing Company and Brix Taphouse Brewery, Greeley CO

 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Weldwerks. The building is acceptable — it appears to be a converted Discount Tire store or some other kind of former auto business, so it’s kind of a neat transformation, but really, there’s nothing terribly exciting or historic about a restored tire shop (if that’s what it indeed was). Furthermore, the paint, flooring and furniture are all quite nice — but are just kind of “there”. Nothing feels particularly personalized or exceptional about it.

Our service was similarly, well, serviceable. It was neither rude nor slow nor unpleasant in any fashion. They just got the job done, which is fine, I guess.

Lastly, the beer was totally alright. We settled upon a couple 20oz glasses of coffee stout that were absolutely quaffable, even outright good. But not wildly memorable. The prices, however, were more than fair: $6 for 20oz of good craft beer is a pleasant surprise for the pocketbook.

In the end, we had nothing bad to say about Weldwerks, but left feeling like there was no particular reason to make the trip twice. For Greeley locals it’s probably a nice addition to a small market, but for anyone considering road-tripping I’m not sure how we can recommend it. On the plus side, however, they aren’t even officially open until March 7th, so they still have time to personalize the taproom or add that je ne sais quoi that makes a place truly stand out. We wish them the best.

 

20150228 171141 Reviews: Weldwerks Brewing Company and Brix Taphouse Brewery, Greeley CO

 

A short walk away lies the Brix Taphouse and Brewery, located in what to these uneducated, non-Greeley-local eyes appears to be part of an historic main street area. While obvious modern renovations have been done both inside and out, there appeared to be a sense of history to this building that immediately caught our interest.

20150228 171045 Reviews: Weldwerks Brewing Company and Brix Taphouse Brewery, Greeley CO

 

The taproom itself has the long, narrow old-school bar/saloon-type vibe that not only feels less agoraphobic and more cozy, but is also more conducive to socializing and mingling. With exposed brick, early 20th-century style ceiling tiles and unique touches (such as a set of old apartment building mailboxes behind the bar being used for…I don’t know), the overall feeling was much more “urban meeting place” than “Jiffy Lube that serves beer”. So, for a town as decidedly rural as Greeley it’s a nice surprise.

While they had little in terms of in-house brew (just one collaboration beer on tap), they more than make up for it with a spectacular selection of Colorado craft beer — over 60 on rotation. What’s more, the ones they chose to serve were almost uniformly uncommon. Rather than the expected Breckenridges, Ska’s and New Belgium’s on tap, they had stuff from smaller breweries such as Broken Plow, City Star, Front Range, Pateros Creek, Horse & Dragon and 4 Noses. All told, their selection is comparable to any of the best taprooms in the state, including Falling Rock.

Lastly, our service was very fast, friendly and accommodating. We asked the beertender (who also happened to be the manager) when the building was built and she ran around for a good five minutes trying to ascertain the date. While she was ultimately unsuccessful, the fact that she put forth the effort was awesome.

When all is said and done, Brix Taphouse my well be THE new destination in all of Greeley. Highly recommended.

Reviews: Goldspot Brewing and Factotum Brewhouse, Denver CO

20150220 190151 Reviews: Goldspot Brewing and Factotum Brewhouse, Denver CO

 

I’ve written more than a few times about market saturation and breweries that simply don’t stand out from the massive crowd of over 230 Colorado taprooms.  I’ve also complained about recent openings that felt rushed or premature. Hell, I’ve even expressed a small amount of burnout at having to describe hundreds of breweries and not repeating myself.

Well, last night’s visits to the two latest additions to the Denver beer scene completely revitalized my enthusiasm for this whole enterprise. There IS plenty of life left in this market and there ARE new and exciting ways to serve up the world’s greatest beverage, and both Goldspot Brewing and Factotum Brewhouse proved it in different ways.

 

20150220 192101 Reviews: Goldspot Brewing and Factotum Brewhouse, Denver CO

 

First off, Goldspot doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but they certainly gave it some street-hugging tires and some fancy rims.

Perfectly encapsulating the concept of the “neighborhood pub”, this new watering hole adjacent to Regis University is the kind of warm, inviting and friendly environment you’ll want to spend more than a few snowy days within. In direct opposition to the cold and sterile warehouse vibe that seems to be plaguing many recent openings, Goldspot feels small (without being cramped), softly lit and surprisingly quiet. Meanwhile, the service (on what was essentially their grand opening weekend) was lightning fast and amiable. After attending two openings in the last month where the wait for a single beer stretched into the better part of an hour, this was an absolute gift from the heavens.

Lastly, the beer was ready. All the taps were pouring and the ones we tried were excellent. There was no indication that the brewer was still figuring out how to brew on a large scale, nor were there any hints of plastic-y lines or metallic weirdness that often ruin a new batch of brew.

In a neighborhood that still feels like a genuine neighborhood (and not a collection of modern apartments and cookie-cutter business franchises), Goldspot proves to be an awesome highlight. Absolutely recommended.

 

20150220 195035 Reviews: Goldspot Brewing and Factotum Brewhouse, Denver CO

 

Next up was Factotum Brewhouse, who are quietly opening to the public after seemingly decades of frustration in acquiring a suitable business space. While it’s unfortunate that they suffered so many set-backs, it seems that the end result justifies the wait: Factotum may very well be the most innovative and exciting new brewery to hit Colorado in years. Years.

20150220 195656 Reviews: Goldspot Brewing and Factotum Brewhouse, Denver CO

 

Focused almost exclusively on allowing home brewers access to their industrial-sized equipment and professional facilities, Factotum is an experiment gone wild. Quite literally anything can be on tap at any time, and the possibilities are endless. Yet, miraculously (perhaps due to their mentoring of home brewers or their impeccably good taste) everything they have on tap is fabulous. Plus, the sense of community fostered by this groundbreaking approach is palpable. We were introduced to several local brewers who were on hand and it felt much more like a collection of friends and family than anything one would typically associate with a dollars-and-cents business. The energy is so positive that it isn’t fathomable that this brewery will be anything other than a resounding success.

 

20150220 200110 Reviews: Goldspot Brewing and Factotum Brewhouse, Denver CO

Tank lights and upper loft area.

But brewing comraderie and collaboration do not automatically make a taproom worth visiting. Wonderfully, though, the building they ended up in after all the previous rented space debacles is fantastic. The design is the kind of industrial-cool that so many places aim for but fail to achieve, with custom lighting and recycled construction materials adding personality in abundance. Furthermore, the service is among the best ever. I’m not saying the service is among the best this year, or the best in Colorado. I mean the best ever. From the beer-tenders to the owners (who introduced themselves to us and chatted enthusiastically) this place is staffed by supremely bad-ass people who have such an obvious love for beer and community that you can’t help but love them immediately.

Just go. Go now. Go often. Leave gigantic tips. You can thank me later.

 

 

 

Review: Zephyr Brewing, Denver CO (and a small editorial of sorts)

20141206 154213 Review: Zephyr Brewing, Denver CO (and a small editorial of sorts)

 

20141206 154245 1 Review: Zephyr Brewing, Denver CO (and a small editorial of sorts)

 

It’s getting harder and harder to come up with new ways to describe the myriad new breweries popping up in many of the same familiar places and environments…and when a neighborhood as crowded as River North in Denver gets yet another new taproom it becomes almost like a case of deja vu.

Is Zephyr good? Yes. The beer is more than satisfactory (especially their milk stout and their raspberry chocolate stout).

Is the taproom nice? Yep. It’s got a cool, almost “underground” vibe to it (it is, in fact, about halfway beneath the street like a garden unit in an apartment complex). The lights are dim, the decor is shades of black and industrial concrete gray and the general feel reminds me a bit of old restaurants and coffee shops you might encounter under the “L” in Chicago. In a good way.

…But how many more breweries can this neighborhood sustain? And are they totally necessary? With the virtually endless supply of wide-open spaces and small towns in this gloriously massive state, why not reach out a bit further? Where are the breweries in Evergreen or Genesee Park? Or, (dare I say it) Commerce City or out near the airport?

I’m sure there are countless reasons why a business owner might choose a high-traffic and centrally located spot like RiNo, but given the insane density rate of breweries in this state I’d like to see a few more adventurous locations attempted. Sure, yes…it’s not my money being bet on this massive undertaking, but it’s just a thought.

Anyway, I liked Zephyr, and if you live in the area it’s gotta be a bit of a beer nirvana at this point…but perhaps it’s time to consider other locations that are “outside the box”.

Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing – Denver CO

20141114 2007121 Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing   Denver CO

I’m gonna try something a little different with these three reviews today. Rather than comparing them to the 220+ other Colorado breweries out there, I’m simply going to compare them to each other. The competition has become so busy and fierce out there that it seems only fair to try and limit who they have to live up to.

20141114 201611 Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing   Denver CO

 

First up is Fermaentra in the D.U. neighborhood. Consequently, being located in a college area has its advantages and drawbacks — it’s gotta be great for overall business, but the primary clientele means loud music (we were “treated” to throbbing dubstep and techno all evening) and bigger crowds, so if that’s your style you should check it out. As for this old codger, it was a tad less relaxing than I prefer.

The beer and service were both just fine, considering the brisk business. Both their lager and amber were good and modestly malty, while the Belgian-style Dubbel pleased my girlfriend.

The exposed brick taproom’s location on the heavy-traffic portion of Evans Avenue make Fermaentra an ideal spot for college aged kids looking to grab a bite to eat at adjacent eateries and down a few pints with fellow students, but for more low-key guests it may be a tad too hectic. If you enjoy places like the Denver Beer Company or Great Divide, this may be right up your alley.

20141114 200735 Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing   Denver CO

 

Up next was Locavore Beer Works in Littleton (just off the Santa Fe highway and Bowles Ave). Despite being in a “sleepy” part of town on a frigid and snowy 12 degree afternoon, the opening day crowd was massive.

20141115 162614 Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing   Denver CO

 

20141115 162634 Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing   Denver CO 20141115 162756 Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing   Denver CO

 

Luckily, Locavore planned adequately for the throngs of customers and had ample employees on hand to pour pints. Additionally, a gas-powered fire pit out front was burning at full-blast, so those of us who couldn’t find a spot in the standing-room-only taproom were (almost) comfortably warm despite the brutal cold.

20141115 163449 Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing   Denver CO

 

For a large, strip-mall location, Locavore had plenty of cozy atmosphere (helped in large part by the awesome inferno on the porch), but it will likely be even more enjoyable once the crowds die down a bit.

As for the beer, these newcomers knocked it out of the park. We had a delightfully creamy porter on nitro, an ESB that was served at an authentic “cellar” temperature of (I’m guessing) around 55 degrees (especially pleasant on this Arctic weather day), and a green chile beer that could hold its own among some of the strongest entries in Colorado.

20141116 142153 Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing   Denver CO

Finally, we hit up Alpine Dog Brewery off of Colfax in Capitol Hill. Regardless of the fact that the neighborhood already has Lost Highway Brewing within walking distance, it still felt like a very welcome addition to the scene (especially with the Ogden Theater being – literally – around the corner).

20141116 142218 Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing   Denver CO

We hit the taproom in the early afternoon on Sunday before the Broncos crowd could come crawling in, so it was nearly empty.

20141116 142224 Reviews: Fermaentra Brewing, Locavore Beer Works, Alpine Dog Brewing   Denver CO

 

The place looked great, and again, the location couldn’t be more ideal for anyone attending a concert or doing a crawl along Colfax. Furthermore, our service was genuinely friendly. The beer, however, wasn’t terribly memorable… but given the option between a modest pint of craft beer and a $6 can of PBR at the venue next door, it’s a no-brainer: Alpine Dog is indeed your best friend.

 

All of these new taprooms have their own unique draws: of the three newest entries in the Denver beer sweepstakes, I’d whole-heartedly recommend Locavore for anyone seeking fantastic beer, Fermaentra for any young people looking for a night out and Alpine Dog for anybody planning on seeing a concert someday soon. Choose accordingly.

Mockery Brewing, Denver CO – Review

20141108 154636 Mockery Brewing, Denver CO   Review

Here’s an odd conundrum: so many breweries have opened/are opening in Denver this month that I actually began this review a few days back and forgot to finish it among the chaos.

20141108 155002 Mockery Brewing, Denver CO   Review

Mockery is pretty great, despite my having completely spaced-out about it. The neighborhood (shockingly) can handle yet another brewery, the facility is first-rate, the beer garden is spacious and perfect for sunny days (unlike this past frigid week), the design is really neat (featuring some of the coolest bathrooms I’ve seen yet at a brewery), the service is quick and the beer is great, especially the amazing peach ale that sports over 200 pounds of Palisade peaches per batch — and you can taste every single one.

20141108 154535 Mockery Brewing, Denver CO   Review

 

 

Basically, this review will boil down to that: the Peach Ale is absolutely phenomenal, and shockingly, stands out in my mind even after I’d forgotten I’d visited the place. That’s gotta count for something.