Denver’s newest brewery has managed to become embroiled in an artificial controversy, one I’d like to dispel right up front. According to a reader published in the Denver Westword newspaper, Spangalang Brewery may very well be the “poster child for gentrification”.
I call bullshit.
Located in the historic, predominantly black neighborhood of Five Points, the new brewhouse does indeed attract a primarily white, middle class clientele (just like virtually any other brewery in existence), and may very well boost the property values in the area…but the stigma of gentrification should not be hurled in its direction (at least not the “poster child” epithet). Spangalang bought an old DMV. It’s not like they threw a Starbucks into a space where an 80 year old soul food restaurant once occupied. This was an unused civic building that some enterprising entrepreneurs purchased. No one was displaced, nor was there some devious corporate neighborhood planning involved. Furthermore, it’s not as if Spangalang is the first business of its kind in the area — Cervantes is across the street and it was once a 1930′s Jazz landmark that has become a haven for jam bands, dubstep and other anglo-centric genres.
Long story short, Spangalang may be a symptom of gentrification, but it is wildly unfair, inaccurate and narrow-minded to label them as the “poster child”.
End of rant.
…anyway, they opened on April 9th to massive crowds, but the service still managed to be quick and professional within this nicely decorated and inviting urban space. Boasting cool blue hues, soft lighting and a theme centered around jazz (with old jazz LPs lining the walls, free jazz playing from the sound-system and jazz influenced beer names like “Love Supreme”), the taproom seems in some ways more respectful of the area’s history than the music venue mere feet away.
We tried the IPA and the Imperial Stout and both were fantastic. The IPA was a huge, hop-intense monster without any hint of unpleasant bitterness, while the Imperial Stout had giant coffee and chocolate notes and a high ABV percentage while still being remarkably user friendly.
Since it was a grand opening we didn’t stay long due to the near-deafening volume and standing-room-only space available, but Spangalang left enough of a great impression due to fantastic beer, quality service and cool atmosphere that we feel determined to go back very soon.
So the debate may continue to rage about the perils and evils of gentrification, but it is in my estimation that Denver’s newest brewery is about as respectful of their place in an historic neighborhood as anyone could hope. This isn’t a stucco condominium, an Applebee’s or a Bed Bath and Beyond — it’s a place where people go to drink beer, and what ties a neighborhood together better than that?