Thirty years ago, I made my first trip to Denver. It didn’t start out as a beer tour but I made my acquaintance with the then-exotic Coors on the plane ride out (remember Continental’s “Flying Pub”?); with Mexican food, still a rarity in the Midwest; and in the local bars. And, like thousands of other Americans, including President Ford and Burt Reynolds, I smuggled some home.
The same pioneering spirit that lured Adolph Coors west has drawn a new generation of brewers to Denver’s Lower Downtown neighborhood.
The Coors mystique has passed into the realm of history; the brand went national years ago. But today, Denver is more of a beer destination than ever. According to the Chamber of Commerce, more beer is brewed in and around the city than anywhere else in America. That’s largely true because the Coors brewery in Golden turns out more beer than any other brewery in the world. Still, it’s the quality and variety of the beer that makes Denver special.
The same pioneering spirit that lured Adolph Coors west has drawn a new generation of brewers to Denver’s Lower Downtown neighborhood. When I first visited the city, LoDo was a “don’t go there” district, full of derelict warehouses left over from the days when tons of merchandise were shipped by rail. It continued to decline for years, thanks to an economic slump followed by collapsing energy prices.
City government turned things around. It offered incentives to preserve the district’s historic buildings and lobbied major league baseball for an expansion franchise. Once the Colorado Rockies became a reality, work began on Coors Field, a beautiful new ballpark that has become LoDo’s centerpiece. The warehouses have been turned into lofts—some 5,000 people live there—as well as dance clubs, restaurants, and, of course, bars and brewpubs.