Who will take Falling Rock’s place at the Great American Beer Fest?

For decades, beer geeks in Denver always knew where they were going to be at 5 p.m. on the Monday before the Great American Beer Festival: Falling Rock Taphouse.

The craft beer bar kicked off a fun week every year when its GABF digital countdown hit 12:00:00 a.m. and owner Chris Black started tapping special, rare, and delicious beers. Falling Rock was also the first stop for many overseas visitors coming to town for the festival and the last stop as they returned to DIA. It was a meeting place, a hub and a heartbeat.

(Photo courtesy of Falling Rock Tap House)

Chris Black was the king of Falling Rock Tap House in Denver. This year, he’ll be hanging out at MobCraft. (Photo courtesy of Chris Black)

But Falling Rock closed in June 2021 after 24 years. The pandemic hadn’t been good for the dining room, and a years-long construction project up front and a changing neighborhood made matters worse. Also, the beer culture in Denver had evolved. People were heading to a myriad of bars across the city to find fun and trendy new beers and experiences, avoiding the old-guard brews that typically adorned Falling Rock’s 75-beer menu.

Which begs the following questions: Where will people gather before, during and after GABF, October 6-8? What, if anything, will become the de facto hangout for brewers and beer geeks? Will there be one main location or a cluster of beer bars and breweries?

The answer for many will be Bierstadt Lagerhaus2875 Blake St., which is already a meeting destination for both foreigners and locals at Denver events like last year’s Craft Brewers conference and previous GABF weeks.

“Returning to Denver for the first time after Falling Rock closed offered a conundrum,” New Jersey-based writer, author and beer editor John Holl wrote in an email to the Denver Post. “The bar has always been my first stop from the airport. I would slip in at the start of the week, drink a quiet pint, catch up with the staff, then plunge into the craziness of the Great American Beer Festival.

“When it closed, I needed a new anchor. So it was fitting that last year when the Craft Brewers Conference was held in Denver…that when I walked into Bierstadt Lagerhaus for that first pint I was greeted by Chris Black from Falling Rock. He was there to hold the court and everything felt good and somewhat normal even without the IPA offer. Again, this will be my first stop.

Longtime Colorado beer judge and craft brewing expert Dev Adams agreed. “I think it will be Bierstadt. Still easy to get to, great food, and after all the heavy beers, it’s so refreshing.”

With its insider cachet, large space, food options and great beer, Bierstadt is probably the best contender. But it’s not the only one.

We asked around to see where beer lovers would go to help fill the void left by Falling Rock when he poured his last pint.

MobCraft Beer hosts events every day during the Great American Beer Festival.  (MobCraft Beer)
MobCraft Beer hosts events every day during the Great American Beer Festival. (MobCraft Beer)

MobCraft Beer

Falling Rock’s Black said he’ll be at MobCraft Beer, a new brewery in Denver that opened in early September, in the former Liberati Brewing space at Five Points. Black has partnered with the company to bring some of its past events there, including an IPA showdown. “What we’re trying to do at MobCraft is to recreate some of the camaraderie that the industry has been known for over the past few years – with the focus on the themes of the event being to allow many breweries to participate,” Black said. But MobCraft is also very new, and it hails from Wisconsin, so people don’t really know it yet, and it has no Denver history. Nevertheless, the space is very large with a huge patio, and there is food (from sister restaurant Dee Tacko). The ambiance will likely be comforting and familiar to people.

MobCraft/Dee Tacko, 2403 Champa St., Denver. mobcraftbeer.com

Goed Zuur offers tangy beers and stellar plates, like this buttery vol.  (Jonathan Shikes/Denver Post)
Goed Zuur offers tangy beers and stellar plates, like this buttery vol. (Jonathan Shikes, The Denver Post)

God Zuur

Like MobCraft, Goed Zuur is at Five Points, and the upscale bar, specializing in sour and wild beers with a small-plate menu, has become a popular hangout during GABF, in part because of its beer list. rare and its magnificent setting. “Downtown is tough, but some parts of the Falling Rock mission are covered by Star Bar [see below]Finn’s Mansion [see below] and, of course, Goed Zuur,” Black said. “All three have their own vibe and specialties, and all three have very good beer selectors who have good relationships in the industry.”

2801 Welton St., Denver. goedzuur.com

Star Bar may leave you a little blurry, like this photo.  (Jonathan Shikes/Denver Post)
Star Bar may leave you feeling a bit fuzzy – like this photo. (Jonathan Shikes, The Denver Post)

star bar

The Star Bar, despite almost no online or social media presence, has been an underground hotspot during GABF for at least a dozen years now. There’s no food and very little room to move, but its scuba-diving feel and stellar cans and draft list appeal to brewery workers in particular, who are looking for a total party where just about anything can. arrive and arrives. “That’s where the brewers are flocking to,” said Dev Adams. “But popularity with the general population seems to have waned during this week.” Nevertheless, there will probably still be people.

Star Bar, 2137 Larimer St., Denver. thestarbardenver.com.

Finn's Manor always had good beer lists, including this one from a previous year.  (Jonathan Shikes/Denver Post)
Finn’s Manor always had good beer lists, including this one from a previous year. (Jonathan Shikes, The Denver Post)

Finn’s Mansion

Located in the heart of trendy Upper Larimer Street in RiNo, Finn’s Manor has become legendary for its beer menu, which is full of rare and hard-to-find beers, even when GABF isn’t in town and no one is looking. The indoor-outdoor venue is far from luxurious, and food options have gone from multiple trucks to a single burger (albeit delicious), but it would be hard to do GABF week without landing at Finn’s. Black loves it. And David Lin, the owner of Comrade Brewing, said he plans to hit MobCraft, Bierstadt (early in the week, before it got too crazy) and Finn’s, where he says the beer list is still great. .

Finn’s Manor, 2927 Larimer St., Denver. finnsmanor.co.

Hops & Pie

Almost everyone we asked mentioned Hops & Pie Artisan Pizzeria. The 11-year-old spot has probably the biggest and best list of craft beers on tap during GABF and just about any other time – and its pizza is one of the tastiest in town. But Hops & Pie is located a good 20 minutes from downtown, in the trendy but secluded Tennyson Street art district. So getting there from the downtown corridor, where most of the GABF-related events take place, should be more of a thoughtful trip with an Uber budget planned rather than a short walk, scooter or cyclo ride -shoots from the Colorado Convention Center or the other locations on this list. Still, if you walked into Hops & Pie on Wednesday and didn’t walk out until Sunday, you’ll likely sample a wider variety of specialty beers than anywhere else in town.

3920 Tennyson Street, Denver. hopsandpie.com


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