Friday 1st June 2018
There is a clue to the speciality of this brewery in their title. Banded Oak is a reference to wooden barrels and barrel-aged beers are the focus point of this house. This is the greatest next thing in the USA.
That may be, but it is a fantastic way to age beer giving them a really deep flavour gained from the previous occupant of the barrel. Here it is mostly wine but could be whiskey or brandy.
This brewery was created by co-founders Will Curtin and Chris Kirk. The genesis of their venture began when they were both employees of Great Divide Brewery in Denver. Will greatly admired a beer brewed by Chris which was an experimental barrel-aged sour dessert ale. He thought they could make similar beers on their own and so it came to be, and Banded Oak opened its doors for the first time on Saturday June 4Th 2016.
A small explanation is required on what these beers are. Barrel-aged beers are usually brewed on standard brewery equipment and fermented out in the normal kind of fermentation vessels to completion or near completion. Then they are placed into wooden barrels previously used for another alcoholic drink, usually wine or spirits.
Here at Banded Oak they are left to continue maturation for another six to nine months. This enables the beer to develop flavours from the wine (or other) infused wood of the barrels providing it with deep and smooth flavours.
Just a reminder; these are not barrel-fermented beers, they are something else. That is when freshly brewed beer is fermented in a wooden barrel, quite a risky procedure because of possible contamination.
The pub, brewery and tap room are all quite small; the premises was previously used as an auto body repair shop.
When we entered the main door we could see the bar counter on our immediate left. On the wall behind a flat screen displayed the current beer list.
Apart from the stools at the bar, where we settled, the remainder of the room was occupied by a few loose tables and chairs. The patio outside was well occupied.
In this friendly pub we soon got to know who was who. On our side of the counter was Tim from Rotherham, an ex-pat working in Denver who liked the pub. We had a short conversation on the merits of other breweries in Denver. Behind the bar was Johnny who was very helpful and introduced as to Chris, the brewer who was one of the founders and he took me to the ten-barrel (bbls) capacity brewery which was just around the corner of the tap room.
Now, on to the beers. Firstly we had American IPA (6.8%). It had a medium body taste with a very bitter aftertaste. Next was Pinky Promise Biȅre de Garde (8.8%); matured in Syraz barrels and it had a distinctive wine taste. It was much better than expected. Next was Double IPA (10.2%), said to be a US / UK hybrid. It was not as bitter as anticipated, a superb beer! The best was last with Atomga Imperial Stout (10.5%) matured in whiskey barrels, which was a true Russian Imperial Stout, the best version of this style I have ever had.
When we visited the weather was good and the patio outside was very busy. They have a canning machine for take-away orders; this can be seen on the right of the photograph above right. This is an excellent pub with some very good beer and should not be missed if you are in Denver.
Banded Oak Brewing, 470 Broadway, Denver, Colorado 80203 bandedoakbrewing.com Tel: 720 479 8033.
Monday-Tuesday: 16.00-20.00; Wednesday-Thursday: 16.00-22.00;
Friday: 13.00-23.00; Saturday: 12.00-23.00; Sun: 12.00-20.00
Banded Oak Brewing is on North Broadway. This major road is served by Bus 0.
This route starts at Union Station on the Bus Mall underneath the platforms.
After negotiating the Downtown area it runs south along Broadway.
To reach the pub from the North you should alight at the Broadway/West 5th Avenue stop.
Continue in the direction of the bus. Cross over 5th Avenue and cross again to the other side of Broadway.
The pub is to be found a little way further south.
Returning to the city centre you turn right, then right on East 5th Avenue. Go one block east to Lincoln Street. Look right at the intersection and you’ll see the bus stop. The 0 route goes north on Lincoln Street.