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Crafty Colorado (Pt. 1): Falling Rock Tap House (Denver, CO)

Founded in 1997, Falling Rock Tap House is an institution
in one of the capitals of the craft beer world.
Our recent road trip to Colorado was as much about family traditions as anything else. Our central goal was to visit my spouse's brother and his family to spend some quality time together. It was also meant to experience something my spouse had always wanted to attend in their annual St. Patrick's Day party. For them, St. Patrick's Day came to signify special meaning in the development of their relationship together.

Our ancillary goal was to do something my spouse and I have found we love doing in taking long road trips to see the country. My spouse's first visit out to California, roughly five years before this Colorado trip and when we were still just good friends, ended up to be a fairly extensive tour of the Bay Area and the Sierra Nevada Mountains around Yosemite National Park. After that trip, we were no longer merely "good friends" either; we figured it out on April Fools Day, and that day has held a special meaning for us ever since.

Of course, the trip had other benefits too. Not only were we able to see an area of the country that we had not visited before, we knew our craft beer pursuits would be well satiated while in one of the premier craft beer areas of the United States, if not the world. We were determined to visit as many as we could, and we had a perfect chauffeur as well in my spouse's brother, a fellow craft beer aficionado and early-generation home brewer dating back from the 1990s, while he was residing in the Columbus, Ohio area.

With work schedules and the like, we picked a weekday where he would able to take off work and show us some of his favorites in the area. It only seemed appropriate to start off at one of the meccas of the area's craft beer scene: Falling Rock Tap House in the LoDo District of Denver.

Falling Rock lets the beer do the talking on their walls and
their menu, but more traditional bar/pub trappings
like pool tables and darts are available downstairs.
Opened in 1997, Falling Rock Tap House's motto of "No Crap On Tap" has been a credo that has drawn thousands of craft beer enthusiasts through its doors. Their Blake Avenue location yearly becomes a pilgrimage for many during the Great American Beer Festival, held annually in Denver at the end of September.

Both outside and inside this modest-sized building, the beer really does the talking. Painted motifs to various craft beer companies, lines of bottles and tap handles, and all sorts of craft paraphernalia leaves the visitor with no doubt to Falling Rock's main focus. Their 70 taps, often featuring some hard to get beer offerings as well as a selection of locally-based beers, combined with their hundreds of other available bottles means that pretty much any visitor can find a beer or similar drink they can enjoy.

A close up of Falling Rock's beer menu, flanked by their Black and
Bleu Burger, Carlos' Street Tacos, and the Tamale Plate
Falling Rock offers pretty standard pub fare as its meal items with two twists: all food is prepared from scratch and never frozen, and almost everything on the menu can be made gluten-free. This feature has made it a regular stop for my brother-in-law and his wife when they have business in the area due to her gluten-intolerance issues. Probably the closest match in terms of food quality level here at this eatery from a Columbus-metro area standpoint would be the original Barley's Brewhouse on High Street.

Of course, we could not stop by here and NOT have a beer, and we all got our individual pints. Perhaps the star of our selections here was not a beer but rather a cider: Wyder's Reposado, a barrel-aged pear cider, was shared and universally liked by all. My spouse and I ended up with two pleasant offerings from Denver-based Bull and Bush Brewery in their Man Beer (an English IPA) and my Big Ben Brown Ale, respectively.

Service was perfect during our visit, but noting the place's modest-size (Falling Rock does have a lower level with more traditional pub trappings like pool tables and dart boards), I can imagine Falling Rock being something of a crowded madhouse during the weekends, especially when the Rockies are have a home game (Coors Field is less than a block from the tap room) or of course during special craft beer related events. Perhaps the perfect time for a first-time visitor to make a visit to this iconic destination is during the midweek as we did. A non-rushed hour or two would allow one a chance to absorb all the sights and beer-related history that nearly twenty years as a beer-lovers destination spot has brought within their brick-lined walls over a delicious brew or two.

Falling Rock Tap House
1919 Blake St (LoDo)
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 293-8338
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