My Beercation To Beer Mecca & Beyond: Tennyson Street
After spending the better part of a day in Denver’s River North Neighborhood, I think I have seen it all. Well, I have a lot to learn about the neighborhoods of Denver and the beercation wonders they keep. Tennyson Street is a historic thoroughfare in Denver that is famous for shopping, eating, and drinking. I didn’t realize how amazing this place was until I really dedicated time strolling it streets and sipping it beery delights. If one wants to, they could easily hit breweries in a very close concentration. While I am not planning on hitting all seven, I am looking to go to the spots that locals have told me about.
FlyteCo Brewing Company
A beer blogger walks into a bar and sees an airplane cabin. That is not a dad joke, it is a statement describing my first few seconds inside FlyteCo Brewing Company. This place is incredible. Lots of space and the floors look like the tarmac of an air field. Heck, even the flight boards are shaped like airplanes!
I love it when I walk into a brewery’s taproom and immediately feel excited about coming to the right place. The taproom space is unique and is quite sprawling. The building used to be an old service station and you can tell if you look carefully at the walls and beams. What they have done with the space at FlyteCo Brewing is incredible.
I order up a flight of beers. There are quite a few things on tap and this will be a two flight situation. Or, I guess I should say that I will be catching a connecting flight? Will you continue reading if I check another airplane pun?
Beer Flights at FlyteCo
The beers span the continuum of styles. Anyone who lives close to Tennyson Street is a probably a frequent flyer here. FlytCo Brewing has something for every taste. Anyone can find something they like on the list here.
A Light Start
We start off with the cream ale. There is a bright grassy note to go along with a slight honey aroma. The beer has a wonderful effervescence and really tickles the tongue. The Beechcraft Blonde is next. This is a dry and crisp beer with subtle hints of white grape and a little bit of honey. It is incredibly refreshing and crisp.
Hoppiness Is A State Of Mind
The Oh My Guava! Pale Ale is a nice transition from the lighter cream and blonde ales that I start with. It is bright and the guava doesn’t overpower the beer. The pale ale is light and brewed exactly to style. It has a fresh grassy and bitter bite in the hop that pairs well with the fruit. The Kapa IPA is along the lines of a more traditional IPA. I keep looking around for a John Deere mower because the grassy aromas are flying out of the glass. The flavors are split evenly between satisfying pine resin and orange peel and grapefruit flesh. The finish is dry and that makes me want to go back for another sip.
The Fog Delay Hazy IPA is incredible. On this beercation there have been two constants-lots of gas and a plethora of hazy IPAs. The Fog Delay is a work of genius. It starts with a grassy aroma of hops with a little bit of chive and orange peel in the nose. There is underlying bitterness that doesn’t overtake the delicate flavors of marmalade, mango, and pineapple. I love the orange pith finish because it is delicate and yet leaves you with a little bite. The Fog Delay checks every box of a well-made hazy IPA. Believe me, that is easier said than done. Not only is this the best beer in the flight, it is one of the best hazy IPAs I had on my entire trip.
Malty Goodness at FlyteCo
Time to delve into the maltier side of things at FlyteCo. The hoppy beers are a definite eye-opener and I am glad that the high quality of the beers match the amazing aesthetics of the taproom. The Unusual Altitude Amber Ale is a great example of the style. Light bread flavor along with light caramel sweetness lead into a bitterness from the roasted malts. It lives up to its name because, sadly, it is unusual to find an amber ale that excites me.
Next up is the Brown FlyteCo. Lots of toasted bread crust flavor from the malt. The little bit of sweetness comes across as caramel, but the roasted malt notes are at the forefront in both the flavor and the aroma. Before they drop the landing gear on our stay, it is the GunTop Robust Porter. Nothing tees me up more than a Robust Porter that is not robust. Thankfully, this bad boy is as advertised. A soothing and familiar flavor of dark molasses enchants my palate. The body is chewy and a little bigger than the brown, but too much. This beer is solid, and I think it is a perfect pairing with a small bag of peanuts for a snack.
While the beers are incredible, the real beercation treat is meeting Morgan O’Sullivan. Morgan is one of the three owners behind FlyteCo. Morgan is affable, intelligent and genuinely cares about who is drinking his beer. He takes time to chat with every patron and that shows how passionate he is about making FlyteCo a welcoming place to drink. I am happy to report to him that the beers are quite stellar. I am honest about coming in with no expectations and being blown away. He asks where else we are going and I ask him where I should go. He says that Empourium Brewing is a great way to continue the day and so that is where we head to next.
Empourium Brewing Company
FlyteCo Brewing set the bar high. However, if there is one thing I know, it is that Denver has a way of showcasing a lot of great breweries. This beercation has already blown my expectations away several times, so I am keeping an open mind. Empourium is about a 7 minute walk from FlyteCo.
I see plenty of space since they just opened. I grab a seat at the bar and dial up a flight of six beers. The taproom has a modern feel with lots of bright colors and eclectic art on the walls. A nice taster tray of beers is what the situation calls for.
Flight at Empourium
Overall, the beers are impressive. The Power Player Pilsner has light bready malt flavor. The finish is crisp and clean and joins the throng of great pilsners I have happily enjoyed on this beercation. The Back, Back To The F’n Basics American Table Beer has a soft mouthfeel and a wonderful malt balance. This is like the name says, a back to basics beer-no fancy or wacky things added in-just a beer.
The Dope IPA is carefully balanced and straddles the line between bitter and juicy. The aroma is grassy and there are some brighter fruit notes in there, but not a ton of lingering bitterness.
The Wold Moon Chocolate Stout is roasty and there is a modicum of smokiness in aroma. The finish is bitter and dry like that a really good dark chocolate. This beer is definitely a roasty stout with very little sweetness to it.
A Fish Story
As is often the case on a beercation, I start chatting with a young buck who works in the area. This dude looks like he is fifteen and works for Ecolab. He is living the dream in this city. He is single with a good job and has plenty of fun ways to spend his money.
I cannot exactly remember how we got on the topic of fishing, but this gent is really excited to tell us about how he caught a swordfish in Mexico. The sordid details of how he got on the fishing boat are probably best omitted in case there is any litigation. I will just say that if you are really intent on catching a swordfish in Mexico, be prepared to overpay with cash and be comfortable with never meeting the same person from the fishing company twice.
After all the excitement of his incredible fish story that resulted in a mounted fish on his wall that he is at least 40% sure is the one he caught, it was getting time to get some food. Luckily, the Grateful Gnome has some epic sandwiches so we finish off our beers and head for the next stop.
Grateful Gnome Brewing Co.
Few creatures from fantasy make better beer mascots than gnomes. First of all, they are bearded and always look happy. Most of the people you run into in a brewery are bearded and seem pretty happy, so it is a match made in heaven. I am happy to say that I have now been to two gnome-centric breweries. In fact, the Hopping Gnome in Wichita, KS, has done a collaboration beer with Grateful Gnome! On my first beercation back in 2015, I lucked into finding out about the Hopping Gnome and it was quite the adventure.
We walk into the taproom and there are gnomes everywhere. I am already in love with Grateful Gnome Brewing, and I haven’t even sipped on a beer yet. My beercation spirits are buoyed further by the fact that I see an ESB and a mild ale on the tap list. I think this is going to be a great time!
What Is Gnomish For “Cheers”?
The beer list has a multitude of styles and tastes. So, we opt for a mix of strengths when it comes to beers. The Gnome Blonde has a lovely lemon aroma and flavor. The mouthfeel is light and crisp. There is a slight finish of biscuit from the malt. The Gnome Belgian Blonde has a nice tartness to it. There is a little honey sweetness and bright crispness to it. It is fun to compare and contrast the American and Belgian Blondes side by side.
The Tastes Like Beer-One Star English Mild has a leathery aroma and the malty flavor of dark bread. This drinks really smooth and I would happily order an entire pint. The Gnome ESB is as well-made an ESB as you will find. Great bready and toffee malt with the balance of earthy hops. The Gnome Brown Ale is roasty and has a toasted bread flavor that adds a lot of depth to the beer. It also has substantial body which I thoroughly enjoy.
The beer that I am most fascinated by is the Petite Barley Wine. This beer clocks in at 8.6% ABV making it a “sessionable” barley wine. The flavors in this beer are a rich blend of plums and toffee. The booziness is warming but not over the top. I think that this might be a beer I would always have in my fridge if it were more common. What I really like about this beer is that it is not as hot as a barley wine due to the slightly lower ABV. You still get the same dark fruits and toffee notes from the malt, but it is easier on the palate and the liver.
Grateful Gnome is another amazing beercation find on Tennyson Street. There is still one more visit to a Tennyson Street brewery that I have to make and that is to Call To Arms Brewing.
Call To Arms Brewing Company
It is not a stretch to say that the crown jewel of Tennyson Street is Call To Arms Brewing Company. This is not meant to be a slight to any of the other breweries on Tennyson. The other breweries I have been to on Tennyson are all fantastic places. However, I think that next to De Steeg Brewing, Call To Arms is the best. Speaking of De Steeg Brewing, I did not make it there this trip because I had a wonderful visit there the last time I beercationed to Denver.
Beertenders Make The World Go Round
I feel somewhat bashful visiting here for the first time after being in Denver a total of 4 times since 2013. I have heard nothing but great things and I am happy to finally be here. Call To Arms Brewing has a comfortable feel. It almost feels like a neighborhood pub. Hearing conversations of those around me, I figure out that this is the local hangout.
As I am studying the menu, Jess, the effervescent, intelligent, and friendly beertender checks in with me to see if I need anything. Jess knows her beer. Every question I ask is answered with a deep understanding of beer styles. I wish every brewery had someone like Jess behind the bar. She articulates the Call To Arms brand like it is second nature. If I had a session IPA for every time a brewery had someone clueless behind the bar who didn’t care about beer, I would be drunk all the time. This is not the case at Call To Arms.
I settle into into my comfy bar stool and order up a flight of four beers. As Jess pours the flight, I learn that Call To Arms started in 2015. Jess has been with them since January of 2016 and they opened on July of 2015. Jess bartends and manages their social media. Call To Arms was started by Jesse Brookstein, Jon Cross, and Chris Bell. Today, Jon and Chris are still co-owners and Jesse moved on to do something else. The three of them all met at Avery Brewing in Boulder, CO.
The Beers at CTA Are The Best On Tennyson Street
Jon and Chris definitely show their professional pedigree and attention to detail in the beers. Speaking of beers, my flight of 4 comes in a nice wooden taster holder that is shaped like a square. I am anxious to start tasting the wares.
A Great Old School IPA
The first beer is the CTA IPA. An enticing grassy and citrus aroma wafts out of the glass and into my heart. Grapefruit, orange flesh, and orange peel are in the flavor and add a wonderful brightness to the beer. The finish is pine and leaves a nice resiny finish on the tongue. This is a fantastic IPA.
A Lager That Pokes The Bear
The next one up is the ballroom beer. This is a cheeky parody of Coors. In fact, it used to be called Khores Ballroom Beer, but due to certain issues, they changed the name. The taster didn’t turn blue to tell me it was ready to drink, but I go ahead anyway. It is extremely clean and refreshing. There is a hint of lemon citrus to go along with a nice light bread aroma. There is an earth hop bite at the end for a wonderful finish.
They it is the Heeey, Brother Pilsner. This one is dry-hopped with Huell Melon hops and it has an incredibly fresh aroma that comes across as subtle honeydew. It is crisp and I imagine this one goes really fast. Then, it is time for the Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza farmhouse ale. This beer is slightly tangy with some notes of peach. It drinks really crisp which is perfect for summer.
The Oats And Hose is an oatmeal stout and also the first original recipe. This beer is roasty and satisfying. It has a depth of character that I find rare in this style. After enjoying this oatmeal stout, I order up a taster of the Shirtless Putin Nuzzling With Dolphins.
Did I mention the beer names at Call To Arms are hilarious? This barrel-aged Baltic Porter is superb. I think that the time this beer spent in Four Roses Bourbon adds to the amazingly complex beer. The aroma is full-on bourbon with coffee and chocolate in there as well. The flavors of cherries, dark chocolate roastiness, and some bitterness from the wood all combine to make this a divine sipper. This is easily one of the best beers I have enjoyed on the beercation.
A Chat With The Man Behind The Beers
As I sit happily at the bar, basking in the blissful state of beercation, Jess is nice enough to introduce me to Jon. I am constantly amazed by the down to earth nature of brewers in the industry. Jon is excited that I made Call To Arms part of my beercation itinerary. I am effusive with my praise as I pepper him with questions about the brewhouse and beers. The 10 barrel, 2 vessel brewhouse brews quite a lot of beer for the size. Call To Arms brewed 740 barrels last year and they hope to brew around 1,000 barrels this year.
After a brief chat, Jon and I part ways with a handshake and a smile. I realize that I am lucky to serendipitously meet the man behind the beers. Call To Arms has the big brewery level of consistency along with the neighborhood small brewery charm. This is incredibly rare.
Ok, Google, Take Me To Tennyson Street
I wholeheartedly urge you to beercation on Tennyson Street in Denver. The beers at the breweries on Tennyson are consistent and flavorful. The people that I meet at the breweries are passionate about their roles in this incredible craft beer scene. My beercation would not have been nearly as good if I had not spent the time to immerse myself in this gem of a Denver neighborhood.
Dan Beaubien has been involved with Beerploma since 2014 although his passion for craft beer dates back to 2006 when he started traveling for beer. Dan mostly covers craft beer events, festivals, brewery openings/releases, and beer reviews. Dan has a soft spot in his heart for authentic British Style ales, IPAs, and all things barrel-aged. If you have any questions or comments about this article feel free to email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org .