Thursday, May 09, 2013

A Plus to the Colorado Brewing Scene

So many breweries open these days in Colorado that it's nearly impossible to determine immediately what the unique qualities are that each bring to the scene. But Colorado Plus Brew Pub, which debuts Monday in Wheat Ridge, has a lot going for it that jumps out right away.

First, it is a 56-tap beer bar/brewery in Wheat Ridge - with every beer coming from a Colorado-based brewery. Every craft beer haven that has come to the Denver area so far has planted itself in Denver - and with the exception of Hops and Pie, most are in about a one-mile radius of each other downtown. This is the first exceptional effort to take Colorado craft beer en masse to the suburbs, and one can only hope this effort to spread the gospel of craft beer takes root.

Second, it's a place that will offer beers from breweries that aren't mainstays in most bars. The first menu, rolled out for a Thursday-night soft opening, includes beers from Hall Brewing, Denver Beer Co., Telluride Brewing and Yak and Yeti - places you have to search pretty hard to find their taps outside their main brewhouses. With just 20 of the 56 beers expected to be constants and 36 expected to be seasonal rotators, the selections offer a lot of opportunity to explore the Colorado beer scene.

In addition to being a taphouse, Colorado Plus will begin offering its own creations for consumption in about a month. Adam Draeger, the full-time brewer at Yak and Yeti (pictured above), will also serve as the Colorado Plus brewmaster. His offerings will be unique. With the best Colorado IPAs on tap, he noted, he doesn't need to make one of his own. Instead, he'll focus on Belgian styles and hop bombs like a double IPA or Russian imperial stout that aren't readily available from elsewhere. That will add variety to the menu, and anyone who has tried his Yak and Yeti beers knows that Draeger knows how to craft something special.

And the menu, which also features Colorado wines and Colorado spirits, won't be shabby. Buffalo, lamb and pork sliders, mussels and tasty fries all blend well with the beers.

If there is one downside to the beer menu, it's that it might fall short of the expectations of hard-core beer geeks. While you have to respect the originality of any taphouse that  serves Breckenridge and New Belgium beers but not Avalanche or Fat Tire, there was a slight lack of daring in the first wave of selections. There was just one sour on the menu - Dry Dock's Ambassador - and nothing seemed to come from the vaults of one-time beers, as you see at places like Freshcraft or Hops and Pie.

But the atmosphere is welcoming, the prices are very reasonable (no beer over $7) and the fact this is opening in the suburbs is special. No question, it will be fun to watch Colorado's newest beer bar/brewery grow.

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