Saturday, January 23, 2016

Denver's Enhanced West Side

When talk of Denver's best beer neighborhoods comes up, River North, South Broadway and the beer-bar-laden downtown all jump to the forefront. But in recent months, some new arrivals are doing their best to make sure the city's west side is beginning to get its due.

It's not like the vast area west of Interstate 25 has been a craft-beer wasteland. Hops & Pie is one of the best beer bars in the city, offering a variety of hard-to-find taps. Hogshead Brewery serves spot-on English-style ales. And Diebolt Brewing, after a relatively slow start, is making some exceptional ales, particularly its fig-infused Algerian Biere de Garde.

But the introduction of two new breweries in particular to the scene in the past six months is beginning to raise the profile of the area, and deservedly so. And as such, it's worth paying a little more attention to Call to Arms Brewing and Little Machine Beer.

Call to Arms, the brainchild of three former Avery Brewing workers, opened in July with a full 14 taps and is getting accolades for its craftsmanship as well as its variety of beers. Located on the northern end of the increasingly hip Tennyson Street corridor, it's also very family-accessible, as Lincoln (pictured with coaster) was one of four kids there for early happy hour during a recent visit.

The vast selection of styles almost ensures that no one beer on Call to Arms' tap list stands out,
though the bold, dandelion-esque Son of a Beesting IPA that was on this fall stood above many others. But the surprisingly hoppy sessionable Clintonian Pale Ale, open-fermented Burkhalter dunkelweizen and Oats and Hose - an oatmeal porter with a hint of dark cherry - rank among the brewery's other standouts.

Even more impressive in many ways is Little Machine, which opened in October in the Jefferson Park neighborhood north of Sports Authority Field. It presents a more experimental vibe and has been able to score touchdowns with a few of its efforts.

Most exciting has been its Coffee Oatmeal Stout, a Nicaraguan-coffee-infused version of its solid Tractor Beam Oatmeal Stout that has both a big coffee flavor and an almost creamy undertone. Another more limited release, the Alternating Currant Kettle Sour, offered a hard-to-nail-down raspberry/blackberry feel in a way that did not overwhelm the taste buds.

Among its more regular beers, Little Machine's Colorado Stock Ale has a hop-forward taste for a pale ale that, at 5.3 percent ABV, could be sipped through the night. And its The Reason Saison, if not challenging to the palate, is malty and very drinkable.

Like in pretty much every neighborhood in Colorado, more breweries are sure to follow. But Denver's newcomers on the west side, following in the footsteps of a couple of their predecessors, are making the area worthy of a full-day tour.

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