GABF Day 1 – Strange Brewing & Wits End

Written by Justin on September 29, 2011

The first official day of GABF had us heading out to two of Denver’s newest breweries Strange Brewing Company which opened a few months before GABF last year, and Wits End a new nano brewery that opened only days ago.

Last year we discovered Strange Brewing Company through a local newspaper article and decided to head out and check out there small operation. The quick summary was a couple of guys cashed in their savings and invested big time in creating a brewery. They were making one barrel batches of beer 4-5 days a week and trying hard to get themselves on the map. Fast forward one year. They just installed an eight barrel system, have new fermentors, restaurant accounts, gold medals and are looking to expand.

We made our way up to the bar and ordered a sampler flight of 10 beers for $9. As the named coasters were laid out I spotted my favorite from last year, their Cherry Kriek. It’s a very nice mild flavored Kriek that isn’t overly thick nor is it overly cherry. It’s actually a surprisingly drinkable beer and still my favorite from Strange. Other beers of note were the Farmhouse Ale, a nice funky Saison and the Powerhouse Porter, a clean smooth roasty porter that was incredibly easy to drink. Though it wasn’t on my favorites list Eryn actually enjoyed their Tainted Black a Cascadia Ale that had a good balance of hops and roast.

Its pretty amazing how much Strange has grown. From their simple little system to the eight barrel system in one year. They have marketed themselves well, made some great beers and it looks like they’ve made some great friends as well. Can’t wait to come back again next year and see how they are doing.

After we wrapped up at Strange we headed over to Wits End, a brand new one week old brewery in another industrial park in Denver. When we arrived there were a few people at the bar and the owner welcomed us in. My first impression was “wow, there is a lot of empty space here”. Right now he is brewing on a one barrel system in a small part of the brewery, fermenting in another, has a great bar in one corner and a large space down the middle. If it takes off he will have no issues on expansion.

We headed up to the bar to order a sampler of what was on tap to find out only two of the beers, the blond and a Porter, were actually available. The blond was a solid summer session beer, easy drinking, good flavor, perfect hot summers day beer. The porter was a little off my style but still a good example. The marketer in me was flummoxed that he only opened with two beers on tap during the week of GABF. It would have been great to taste through his whole portfolio of beers. I will be very curious to follow Wits End and see how it comes along over the next few months and years.

Denver has a vibrant growing nano-beer market and tomorrows plan is to head out and check out four more of these small guys.

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