Denver (Lower Downtown), Colorado:
Jagged Mountain Taproom
Visited on: Tuesday 12th June 2018
The story of the Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery, to give it its full name, began in 2013 with three founding partners Wayne Burns, RJ Banat and Randy Stinson. They opened the brewery and tap room in November 2013 in what was previously an old frame-makers shop on the corner of Lawrence Street and 20th Street in LoDo (Lower Downtown).
The new company’s catchphrase was “Adventurous People, Adventurous Beers”, a reference to the owners’ liking for winter mountain sports.
The actual Jagged Mountain is a very distinctive peak around 200 miles from Denver in the San Juan range.
From the start most of the brewery’s output was of very strong beers. Wayne Burns who was the brewer, liked these types of beer. He had previous experience the Mountain Sun group of Boulder, CO, also Bell's Brewery and Kuhnhenn Brewing, of Michigan. Just over a year after opening, Wayne left Jagged Mountain in December 2014 after personal disagreements.
As they didn’t have brewing experience the remaining two partners employed a new brewer, Adam Glaser. He had previously worked for the Fort Collins Brewery in Colorado.
Very soon none of the beers brewed in the first year of their existence remained. However, that wasn’t the end of very strong beers, see below for proof. Now, about two thirds of the production are of lower alcohol content, and they even include session beers.
It was an ever-pleasant day in Denver as Linda and I walked across the intersection to the pub. Once inside we found a well illuminated large room. The light flooded in from big garage-type windows on either side. Turning right towards the bar counter we passed a multitude of tables and chairs including two very large examples close to the bar itself.
The many beers on offer are displayed on a large board at the rear of the bar. On the 20th Street side of the building the counter leads to a place where water is available, this is law in Colorado. What was different from the norm was that it was advertised with “Hydration Station” displayed on a neon-tube sign. Also, the area was guarded by a large teddy bear! The brewery equipment could be seen behind this area.
With more than a nod to the owners’ liking for adventurous sports and mountain climbing the draught beers have been graded into low- , medium- and high strength. These correspond with “Trail Head”, “Base Camp” and “Summit” on the beer list.
So in order of rising strength we begin with “Trail Head” as follows: Sweet Huffy Bro’ (2.7%), a grapefruit radler; Grizzly Peak (3.8%), a English porter; Bach to Back (4.5%), a blonde ale; Hey Diddle Diddle (4.8%), a wheat ale with apricots, blood orange and rose petals; Playing Hooky (5.0%), a cherry wheat ale and Four Pass Pils (5.0%), a German pilsner.
Next we move up a grade (in strength) to ”Base Camp” with Rocky Mountain Chowder (4.6%), a New England session IPA; Über Slayer (6.4%), a Japanese Saison (!); Wolf Pack (6.8%), a black saison; Cougar Slayer (6.8%), a blackberry saison; Sawatch (7.0%), an American IPA and Ninja Donkey (8.2%), a juicy Imperial IPA.
Finally we arrive at the “Summit” and we are offered these four missile propellants: Sadlers Banana Hammock (12%), a Belgian trippel with bananas, blood orange and powdered do-nuts!; Thunder Thighs (13%), a Belgian quadruple; Voodoo Goat (15%), an English barley wine and Devil’s Abyss (16%), a Russian Imperial stout.
We tried four beers from this impressive collection and these were our comments on what we thought of them: Bach to Back Blonde Ale was good, a bit like an ale / lager cross. Was it made with lager malt? Grizzly Peak English Porter we though was more of a brown ale, very malty as that style of beer is. Rocky Mountain Chowda was very cloudy with an extra dry taste along with slightly peppery bitterness. Sawatch IPA was a medium brown colour. It was quite smooth with a dry bitter finish, certainly not a usual American IPA.
From the above you can see there are many good reasons to visit Jagged Mountain. It’s close to the Denver Convention Centre and just three blocks from Coors Field, home of the Denver Rockies baseball team.
Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery, 1139 20th Street, Denver 80202. Tel: 720 238 7575
Hours: Monday-Thursday 14.00-22.00; Friday 14.00-23.00; Saturday 12.00-23.00; Sunday: 12.00-21.00
There are many bus routes passing along Lawrence Street and 20th Street and also more have stops on streets only a couple of blocks away.
Also, it should take no longer than fifteen minutes to walk from Union Station.