Visited on: Friday 15th June 2018
It seems that the founders of this brewery are a perfect match to start up a business of this kind. Jason Zumbrunnen was a brewer and had a punk band called the Fairlanes who signed with the Suburban Home label. Scott Kaplan worked for them and they connected.
Meanwhile in California Zach Lowery was operating Grey Flight Records. They have done a distribution deal with Suburban Home to distribute the label in Colorado.
Although they all knew each other they finally came together at Scott Kaplan’s wedding during the early 2000s and discussed their mutual admiration for good beer. Jason has been involved with beer for a long time, dating back to his attendance at the University of Colorado in Boulder where he consumed a lot of the products of the Boulder and Walnut breweries.
He then attended the Siebel Institute in Chicago and also went to Doemans Academy in Munich. He came back to Denver in 2010 and worked for Wynkoop Brewery. He then went to work for a satellite branch of Coors known as AC Golden where new craft-style brews were produced.
The three future partners were continuing to home brew and in 2010 they finalised their plan to start their own commercial operation.
They had almost given up on finding a location in central Denver when came across the former premises of Mile High Spirits, a distillery.
At this time the RiNo district was still a relatively quiet area and this concerned them. No need to worry though, as the district’s rapid increase of restaurants, speciality shops and of course brew-pubs and brewery tap rooms meant that the area had become a “destination” within a year.
The doors were finally thrown open on 14th February 2014. They did really well from the off and had to add extra fermentation capacity with in the first year along with more brewing staff.
Like most small brewers these days they are well into beers matured in wooden barrels and offer a number of varieties. Their plant’s capacity is twenty barrels (bbls) and big enough to supply other outlets in the city.
Walking along Larimer Street you can’t really miss the brewery as the building is painted in very bright colours, a scheme that continues to the interior. Apart from the décor another thing that struck Linda and I was the system of obtaining beer which was self-service, British style. The furniture is medium height wooden tables with benches and chairs at some. The usual row of stools can be found in front of the bar counter.
There was a good range of beers on offer: Domestica (4.9%), an American standard ale; Dear You (5.5%), a Citra French saison; Handwritten (5.1%), a Belgian abbey wit beer; New Wave (3.7%), a strawberry Berliner weisse; Repeater (6.1%), an American pale ale; Rented World (4.8%), an American session pale ale; Antidote (7.0%), an India Pale Ale; Continuous Thunder (8.8%), a double IPA; Hold Steady (7.5%)’ a dark Scotch ale and finally another Hold Steady (6.2%) also a dark Scotch ale yet with Novo coffee.
We tried five of this selection and our views are given below: Domestica American Standard Ale was a session ale that was not very hoppy. It tasted a bit like a lager, but was pleasant enough. Rented World Session IPA was strongly hoppy with citrus flavours and a peppery finish. Repeater Extra Pale Ale was more balanced with strong flavours. Antidote IPA tasted more like a pale ale than an IPA with a very soft finish. Continuous Thunder Double IPA had a nice aroma, a complex bitterness no doubt because of many different hops.
There are some really good beers here and Ratio is a “must visit” if you are in the RiNo district.
Ratio Beerworks, 2920 Larimer Street, Denver, Colorado 80205. Tel: 303 997 8288
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 12.00-23.00; Friday-Saturday 12.00-24.00
The 44 bus route is very useful as it travels through the RINO district with its many breweries and brew-pubs. It goes through the city centre on 15th and 17th Streets then goes north till it reaches 44th Avenue.
The 44 runs half hourly on weekdays, hourly from 19.00 and hourly at weekends.
Coming from down town alight at the Lawrence Street & 29th Street stop.
Walk a short way back to 29th Street. Turn right into it.
On the next block turn right into Larimer Street and the pub is on the right, same side.
Returning the city, go right out of the pub into Larimer Street.
The stop is outside the Odell Brewing Taproom.