Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cheers to the All-Colorado Beer Bars

While Colorado Plus gets a lot of well-deserved attention from the beer geeks on the west side of Denver, there is another recently opened all-Colorado beer bar on the east side meriting the same kudos.

Stapleton Tap House, which owner Michael Kearns (above left, with fearless assistant Justin) debuted seven weeks ago in the Northfield shopping center - and which the Fearless Tasting Crew visited last night - offers up 35 Colorado craft brews on tap. Kearns adds the twist, though, that not only will he not serve you out-of-state crap, but you won't even find the likes of the state's largest craft brewers - such as New Belgium, Breckenridge or Odell - on his tap list. (Kearns acknowledged, however, that he would think about tapping a rare or one-off beer from the "big" boys if offered.)

Instead, patrons get to choose from the likes of smaller gems, such as Trinity or River North, or even breweries you won't find at a lot of places yet, such as Copper Kettle or Echo. Upslope IPA is as mainstream as you get at Stapleton Tap House - and while that's a tasty brew, Kearns noted that he doesn't sell much of it, because people are keen to try things they haven't quaffed before.

Stapleton Tap House also eschews food trucks, but for a more practical reason - there's a half-dozen restaurants within steps of its front door happy to serve up to-go plates for you to bring back to the bar. While many are larger chains, one is Jim ' N Nick's BBQ, whose local owner, Paul Bestafka, is a big supporter of craft beer.

In its first visit, the tasting crew enjoyed a variety of quality beers that included Crabtree Cezanne Apricot Saison, Trinity Soleil Farmhouse Saison, Elevation Little 'Mo Porter and Twisted Pine Hoppy Boy IPA. The night was complete only when Stapleton kicked a keg of the excellent Copper Kettle Mexican Chocolate Stout but stifled our tears by replacing it with River North Hoppenberg Uncertainty Principle, arguably the tastiest beer made in Colorado.

One can question the business sense of opening a craft beer bar in shopping center surrounded by chains; several times we were shocked to see that there were a number of open tables at the taphouse on a Friday night. But you've got to give credit to what Kearns and his staff are doing, and it gives you a reason to head east for craft beer for a change.

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