Great Beer at The Source

While in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival I worked to build my skills at what should be called “extreme beer tourism”. With the knowledge of my travel companions, local’s recommendations, and Denver’s extensive network of craft beer publicity we were able to knock out well over 15 different breweries and specialty beer bars. To pick a favorite would be impossible, but one place takes the cake for innovation in craft culture. In this case, not only is the brewery above and beyond par, but also the setting in which is sits excites the senses.

The Source is home to Crooked Stave, a brewery that is growing in notoriety for brewing with 100% brettanomyces and doing it well. Very well. As craft beer culture has grown all over the country, so has the market for those of us who love the wild, funky, and sour. Crooked Stave provided with over twelve taps of just that. Among my favorites was their Surrette, a 6.2% Provision Saison. They had batches 4, 5, AND 6 on tap, each progressively more sharply sour with age. But the beer that stood out the most to me was their St. Bretta. They had both the summer and fall versions on during our visit. St. Bretta Summer was brewed with blood oranges and the fall version with Valencia oranges. I think this is a great concept. The citrus definitely came through without overpowering the other flavors and enhanced the brightness that I desire in a brett beer. I was very pleased to snag a couple St. Bretta and Surrette bottles to bring home to Eugene, a town that has no major brett or lacto breweries. We also got to try L’Brett D’or, a “surreal golden sour”, Vielle, an apple whiskey barrel aged sour, and the Hop Savant Series (they had the Galaxy and Citra single dry-hopped ones on while we were there). With all this in mind, GABF weekend at The Source was buzzing with artisan consumers. Over the course of our three (yes! really) visits there, we enjoyed more than just a brewery but a community of mutual supportive businesses and that is what makes The Source the top of my list.

The Source is a mixed-use business complex that propels artisan consumer economics to the next level. Under one (extremely high) industrial/modern roof The Source is home to eight businesses and still growing. Beer is not the only thing flowing here. The businesses within run the gamut of available products and experiences with one common thread of quality craftsmanship.

Located at 3350 Brighton Boulevard, in the up and coming RiNo neighborhood of Denver, The Source is deeply set off the street tucked behind its’ large gravel parking lot. The first glimpse of the building is striking. The historic brick and metal roof of an 1880’s iron foundry are juxtaposed to the modern pop of bright blue accents, large simple fonts, graffiti and a clean, current landscape design.

Many breweries we visited, especially in Boulder, lived in commercial business complexes and industrial malls that look like Oregon’s suburban strip malls. This place is different. Not only is there a craft brewery tucked in the back corner of the complex, but as you scan the grand hall you find two restaurants crowded with hungry foodies, a glass window displaying a vegetarians worse nightmare- the Meathead Butcher, the bright colors of Beet and Yarrow, a florist, the rustic crust of freshly baked bread at Babette’s, an the enticing Mondo Food. Mondo Food is the type of shop I can never successfully ignore. The allure of a large cheese display, local hot sauces and pickled products, combined with imported spices and oils is basically my utopia. To boot, they carried our very own Olympic Provisions charcuterie. To keep the Portland vibe alive (some may call it European, but hey Oregon has it going on, too), The Source also houses a local coffee roaster, Boxcar Coffee. Originally based out of Boulder, Boxcar opened an outpost in Denver where they serve fresh espresso, with sparkling water backs just like Portlanders like it. Hard to believe, but there is more. A craft cocktail bar, distillery, and still vacancies in the building. I cannot wait to visit again on my next trip to Denver and see how the place is doing. All they need is a wine shop and I am in heaven.

If you make it out that way don’t be discouraged by the appearance of the neighborhood. The lack of sidewalks or bike lanes may make you you’re lost in an industrial area, but when you catch a glimpse of the building you will know you are in the right place.