We went there on a direct flight from the tiny town of Provo, UT, for an extended weekend, to partake in the Great Beer Festival of 2012. As it often happens with most travel, we went there to spend some time with a friend over beer tastings, and we came back much more rich in memories and experiences.
Destination: beer! - with my tasting glass and pretzel necklace, all ready to go!
I have thought about this blog for a while now (we went there a month ago, or so), and I think the easiest way to describe the Denver experience is to say all the reasons why we were both in love with the city and now (semi)seriously consider to move there! Maybe this will give you all an idea what Denver is all about.
- It’s a “walkable” city (I like this word better than “walking”). Or at least its downtown is. Streets are clearly marked, and numbered, for the most part. The downtown is buzzing with people, and you will not be a weirdo if anyone sees you walking instead of popping in and out of your car at every corner.
- Along these lines, it feels like a small city. It’s not rushed. Its downtown is cozy, and people are not in a hurry (like New York or Boston). They strut, and stop, and talk and clutch on cups of coffee, and take their time. Most of them look like they live in the swanky condos that line every street – new buildings and old, redone ones, as well.
- There are opportunities to get sidetracked and pop into a store, a mall, a park, river front, a book store (about which more, in a sec), a brew pub, a museum at every corner. We were there for three almost full days and we never rode the tram, or took a cab, but we filled the entire time with just walking and “store”-ing and eating and snacking and … Even if you’re not shopping, the architecture alone is beautiful, unique, a mixture of Old West meets 1800’s Old America, and 21st century svelte construction. A photo opp on every alley.
an area of about a quarter or a square mile, it has three huge book stores: two
Barnes and Noble(s) and one local
store (“The Tattered Cover”). And
they don’t look like sad ghost towns inside, either. They’re full of people
reading and buying books. (this comment will make my nephews chuckle 20 years
from now. I just know it!)
have a Brueggers’ Bagels shop! Ever
since I moved to Utah almost 3 years ago, I have missed this delicious place! (
if my husband were writing his blog, he would replace this one with “They have
- Wynkoop Brewery is just one of the way many downtown brew joints. But its Two Guns Pilsner is the reason I wound move for: the best draft I have tasted in a long, long time.
- The Titled Kilt
(just get over the skimpy outfits, please!) has the best garlic mashed potatoes
in at least two continents that I know of! The garlic butter is oozing in
plentifulness on top of creamy, lumpy mashed taters! The famous mashed potatoes at The Kilt - can you see the butter?!
else in the world did I find fried trout for breakfast nonetheless, but Sam’s #3 on Curtis?! The place is almost
as historic as the city itself, and the wait is long, but so worth it. It’s not
just the food, it’s the whole sassy attitude of it that would probably bring me
back every Sunday morning! Yeah - that's a WHOLE trout!
- Although in the heart of Western America, the city is very much connected to the world. It was the central bastion for the western railroads, back in the day, and today, its airport feels like it’s connecting people to any place in the nation and the world, as well. Everyone flies to and from Denver. Even if you need to go a tiny place like Provo, UT!
- For those of you who know me well, you know I cannot live far from mountains. So, the very last reason why I would love to move to Denver (but not the least) is that looking around town, you see the beautiful Rockies peeking up in the horizon at every step! You are in the Mile High City, after all, and gems like Breckenridge and Boulder and even Vail are only a short car ride away! The air is clear and fresh, like you would expect, too. None of the “inversion” mucky air we breathe in Salt Lake.
And a word or twelve about the beer. The Great American Beer Festival was one of the strangest (in mostly a good way) experiences I have ever had. I have been to wine festivals before, but they were in the open air. The beer festival was inside the Convention Center in Denver. After you waited for sometimes hours in the line that wrapped around The Center at least twice, you were inside the huge, main events hall. The air was infused with alcohol smell. It smelled like an old, old, old pub where the wooden floors have been imbued with spilled beer for decades! You could have gotten drunk from the smell in the air alone.
You got a plastic tasting glass (the wine festivals give you a real glass) and you started to walk around, elbowing the crowds, to visit every booth (if you could) and taste whatever beer sounded good by its description or name. The booths are laid out by region (Northwest, Midwest, Southeast, etc), and each brewery pours a taste of several (or just one) of their crafted beers from (plastic) pitchers.
Although all three of us have very different preferences in beers (our friend makes his own, so his palate is very sophisticated compared to ours), all three of us agreed that the most surprisingly good beer we found after two days of tasting was one called “Orange blossom” from the Papago Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ. It’s a vanilla and mandarin wheat ale – and it is just delicious!
We tasted everything! We tasted beer that had coffee in it, and beer that was brewed, it felt like, in an old meat smoker! Beer that tasted like hot chili peppers and some that tasted like coconut. We now know that you’re only limited by your imagination when you decide what to add in beer for flavor!
At the end of a couple of hours of tasting, I am not sure whether we wanted to leave because we were feeling too buzzed, or because we could not take the progressively louder and worse smelling crowd around us?! But about an hour and a half to two hours was my tolerance for the event.
And then, there was the pretzel necklace – for palate cleansing between tastings. And the cheese sampling table. My favorite part about the festival is how it transforms the city! Everyone you run into, in a restaurant waiting line, or in the elevator, or in the shuttle ride back to the airport is asking you if you’re here for The Festival. And then you end up exchanging experiences and “brew talk” about the beers you tasted and what you have “learned”. It gives the city a happy, familiar, friendly heart, even more so than its native, originally beautiful one.
...It was a beautiful October day, 2012 ...
Please click on the picture for the whole photo adventure ...