Denver (Lower Downtown), Colorado:
Great Divide Brewing Ballpark Brewery and Taproom
Visited on: Tuesday 12th June 2018
This is the original Great Divide brewery and is located on the margins of Lower Downtown (LoDo) and the Five Points district. Lower Downtown is normally associated with the area south of Union Station and this brewery is a bit further away yet it is still in LoDo, as it often gets abbreviated to. This outlet is known as Ballpark because of its proximity to Coor’s Field, the home of the Rockies Major League Baseball team. So avoid match days if you want a quiet drink! There is another outlet; please see the article on the Barrel Bar.
Great Divide’s history goes back some time. Founder Brian Dunn spent a lot of time in the 1980s working in developing countries. During this time he picked up a liking for the various types of beer available.
On his return to Colorado he began home-brewing and enrolled in graduate school. He qualified in 1993 and immediately set about finding a site to open a small commercial brewery.
The brewery and tap-room opened during the same year in a former dairy processing plant. Brian didn’t look back although on his own admission the early years were tough when he was the sole employee.
The brewery expanded with greater capacity on the same site as he struggled to keep up with demand. Great Divide certainly came to the attention of the drinking public. It won seventeen awards from the Great American Beer Festival and five in the World Beer Cup.
By 2011 there was no room to expand any further on this site. In 2013 they purchased five acres of land to build a new brewery. They started building in 2014, by 2015 they had a new brewery, canning plant and eventually a tap room, the aforementioned Barrel Bar opened.
As usual it was a pleasant day when Linda and I approached the brewery. After all, Denver gets over three hundred days of sunshine during the year.
Although the building is quite large the tap room itself is fairly small. It has an L-shaped varnished wood bar counter.
Interestingly there are no loose tables and chairs, except on the small patio. However there are shelves all around with plenty of stools.
The room extends narrowly around the back wall of the bar and there is a window through to the brewery.
They had an amazing selection of ales when we visited and not a lager in sight! The choice from the regular range first was: Denver Pale Ale (5.0%); Heyday Modern IPA (5.8%); Colette Farmhouse Ale (7.3%); Roadie Grapefruit Radler (4.2%); Velvet Yeti Nitro (5.0%); Strawberry Rhubarb Sour (6.2%); Yeti Imperial Stout (9.5%); Hercules Double IPA (10.0%) and Hazy IPA (6.2%).
Then there were the specials: Bono Ohno (6.2%) a pale ale with spruce tips; Sonic Weapon Barrel-aged “Old Fashioned” (9.8%); Rumble Oak-aged IPA (6.2%); Vanilla Yeti Oak-aged Stout (9.5%); Sugar Coated Kettle Sour (5.1%) with sweet and tart cherries and L.K. Yeti Stout (9.5%) with coconut and macadamia nuts. Finally, in the Woodwerks small batch series there was: Flemish Sour Brown (9.7%) with strawberries.
We tried three of these beers and this is what we thought: Denver Pale Ale had a nice bitterness with a half-dry taste. It was refreshing and was almost a session beer. Heyday Modern IPA was quite bitter with a medium-dry after taste. Rumble IPA, despite being aged in American oak barrels was not particularly smooth. Nevertheless it was well liked with a strong bitterness.
Some normal and eclectic beers from an award-winning brewery. What’s not to like!
Great Divide Brewing Co., 2201 Arapahoe Street, Denver, Colorado 80205. Tel: 303 296 9460
Hours: Sunday-Tuesday 12.00-20.00; Wednesday-Saturday 12.00-22.00
Bus stops are close by. Broadway/Curtis Street is served by the 8, 44 and 48 routes in each direction. The stops are a few metres either side of Curtis Street. Go to that street and find the junction with 22nd Street.
Go north for one block on 22nd and Great Divide is on the opposite corner.
Please look at the RTD website to see the times, frequencies and destinations for the above bus routes.