Just as California’s Napa Valley is known for its wine production, Colorado’s city of Denver is known for its booming American beer scene. To celebrate International Beer Day we’re diving deeper into one of the United States‘ fastest-growing big cities and asking why Denver’s long history as a beer brewing city is expanding at the same rapid pace as its population.
The ‘Mile High City’ is best known for its blue skies, panoramic mountain views and craft beer scene. Denver is a great city to tack onto an amazing trip through the state of Colorado, but equally brilliant as a weekend hop. From the giant Coors factory to 400 craft breweries and brewpubs, let’s look at why American beer finds its home in Denver, plus other cool things you can do while exploring the ‘Napa Valley of beer’.
Denver brews tonnes of American beer
King of the American beer industry, Denver is a major player when it comes to brewing hops and malt. Apparently the first building in Denver back during the gold rush was a saloon, so it makes natural sense that the city would develop a taste for a cold American lagers, APAs and blonde ales.
At the centre of this great beer town lies the Coors Brewery, the world’s largest, and while craft beer brewing is a 21st century phenomenon in most places, Denver’s Great American Beer Festival has been running for 40 years and showcases more than 1,900 American beers each time.
It’s said that on an average day, Denver is busy brewing more than 200 different beers. But the real reason it gets the nickname as the Napa Valley of Beer is the location. Surrounded by an epic mountain range, it’s the great taste of this Rocky Mountain spring water – a key ingredient in beer making – that makes the city’s American beer industry boom.
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But why else should you explore Denver?
Denver has 250 days of sunshine a year
Colorado locals like to say that Denver has around 300 days of sunshine every year, but recently they discovered that’s simply not true – which was a shock to everyone. Denver does still receive at least 250 days of sunshine a year and enjoys a brilliant mild, dry climate where the golf courses remain open year-round.
Denver has a thriving arts scene
Denver might not be the first place you think of when considering world-class arts and culture, but since the first performance took place here in an Old West saloon the city has been an arts-first place. Covering four square blocks, look to the Denver Performing Arts Complex for shows at 10 theatres where opera, symphony, ballet and touring Broadway shows take the stage. Then there’s the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, one of the finest acoustic venues in the world, and the refurbished Boettcher Concert Hall.
The Wild West defines Denver’s past
A gold rush in the late 19th century took Denver from nothing to a thriving place where some of the wildest Wild West events took place. Now you can explore the history of this crazy time at museums and in LoDo, the historic district filled with Victorian and turn-of-the-century buildings that houses around 90 brewpubs, jazz cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs. It’s the place to go in Denver for drinks with friends or to boogie on into the night.
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Denver makes a great base or starting point to explore Colorado
Denver, with its American craft beer pubs and thriving arts scene, is more than just a big city to pass through on your way to the real sights. But it does make a great starting point to explore the best of Colorado. If you make it to Denver, make sure you pencil in time to traverse the Rocky Mountains, travel the Georgetown Loop Railroad, admire Aspen, hike Mesa Verde National Park and venture to the Majestic Pikes Peak. You can do all of this (and more) on our Welcome to Colorado tour.
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Red Rocks Park is a must explore
If you’re a fan of nature you don’t have to leave the city to find the great outdoors. Denver’s Red Rocks Park is loaded with hiking trails and enjoys those Rocky Mountains vistas. Make sure to spend time exploring the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre on the city’s outskirts. If you’re lucky, you’ll snag tickets to a seasonal outdoor concert or event here – and if not, bring a couple of those American craft beers from town and enjoy a Denver drink in the middle of nature.
Soak your worries away at a beer spa
It’s not just all about drinking the local brews in Denver. A day spa and taproom in one, soak away your stresses and enjoy a massage in zero gravity chairs at the Beer Spa. Enter one of the Beer Therapy rooms where you can enjoy a frothy beer bath, sauna and rain shower experience, then while away time in the taproom up front.
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Catch a match at Coors Field
Of course the city’s baseball field is named for a largest and most famous beer brand. If sports fans can’t catch a game at the field, don’t fear. Look for the row of purple seats that mark the mile-high point that gives Denver its Mile High City nickname, then venture down to the onsite brewery.
So that’s why American beer and Denver go hand-in-hand, plus a few reasons why you should visit the rapidly growing city. Tell us your favourite craft brewery or style of beer in the comments….