While too many craft breweries and microbreweries fall into the same category of overpriced tech bro hangouts with the same “quirky” attitude, especially in Denver, the Mile High City has a few unique craft beer spots with uniquely punk and metal-inspired tastes. Black Sky Brewery, TRVE Brewing, and Ratio Beerworks set themselves apart with unique environments, great music, support for the music scene, and of course, killer beer.
TRVE is really easy to miss if you don’t know where it is. On a hip stretch of Denver’s South Broadway, the narrow brewery is unassuming on the outside, but is completely unique once you step in the door. With a bar set up to resemble a satanic altar and the beer names to match (Cosmic Crypt Pale Ale and Decreation IPA, just to name two), TRVE is boasts a black metal and doom atmosphere that perfectly suits the tunes playing on the loudspeaker. The branding at TRVE is spot-on for any metal fan— I always to buy a crowler to take home simply because the can is so cool. In addition to that, on my first visit there, the original painting that would become the cover of Khemmis’ Desolation album was for sale within a thick frame on the wall.
As far as the beer goes, what makes TRVE stand out is their “Mixed Culture” beers. These are beers fermented with different yeasts than your average brew, and it makes for some really strong and unique flavors- especially in their sour ales. Some of them can get pretty intense, but they’ve got some light standbys to fall back on if their mixed cultures prove to be a one-and-done deal for your palette.
TRVE Brewing: 227 Broadway #101, Denver, CO 80203
Black Sky Brewery
Walking into Black Sky Brewery feels like you stepped into an old Mötley Crüe video, with a chain-link fence and signed guitars and the poster on the jukebox reading “Any non-heavy metal music will be skipped.” If TRVE is a black metal and doom bar, then Black Sky is certainly a thrash and speed metal kind of joint. Come for the annual goat roast and the heavy metal flea market, stay for the Demonseed IPA and the Fist Fight Citrus Wheat. Of this list, Black Sky has the largest beer menu that changes regularly, written in chalk behind the bar as well as an attached pizza-by-the-slice spot.
Additionally, Black Sky is also the host of Denver Black Sky, an annual metal fest hosting the likes of Exhumed, Primitive Man, Ringworm, and more. While the festival has taken a few years off, the brewery continues to host metal shows and vinyl nights. This September, they’re putting on the inaugural Denver Hex Fest, featuring some Denver thrash stalwarts like Musclebeach, Palehorse/Palerider, and Call of the Void alongside Lightning Bolt and Pig Destroyer.
Black Sky Brewery: 490 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204
The least obviously music inspired of the breweries on this list, Ratio might be doing the most of the three for the Denver scene. Situated in the middle of the River North (aka RiNo) district, the area once known as Five Points has rapidly become one of the hippest, most expensive neighborhoods in the city. Ratio acts as an oasis in the midst of everything else terrible about the area. As a plus, it’s just down the street from Larimer Lounge, one of the best venues in Denver, and RocketSpace which is the unofficial HQ of countless Denver bands. On the marquis beer menu is the Rented World Session IPA named for the Menzingers album, the Heart Tattoo Blackberry Belgian Wit named for the Joyce Manor tune, and the Hold Steady Dark Scotch Ale named for, well, The Hold Steady.
If that isn’t enough to make you feel at home, the tunes played over the loudspeaker are a great mix of old and new punk. On their event calendar, be on the lookout for their Ratio Sessions where touring bands will do acoustic sets before their shows, local bands, punk rock drag shows, and local comedy. Ratio does so much for Denver’s music, they deserve returned support in spades.
Ratio Beerworks: 2920 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205