Books & Brews: Suggested Pairings for Denver's Brewing Scene

Photo courtesy of Black Shirt Brewing Co
Cover photo for Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy Photo courtesy of Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew Cover photo for Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S Thompson Photo courtesy of Renegade Brewing Company

With Denver churning out new breweries at breakneck speed, you can sometimes have trouble finding someone to drag along to each new spot. Luckily, you still don't have to go alone. Consider inviting your long lost pal, the book. Here is a brief list of complementary "Book & Brew" pairings for taprooms around Denver.

Hogshead Brewery. This northwest Denver brewery's traditional English cask ales pair nicely with any of the English greats: a Lake Lightning and a Brontë, a Chin Wag to match your Shelley (the poet or the novelist). Or just go all-out and bring a Riverside Shakespeare (for which you'll probably want a flight of everything they have). You could even traverse the Irish Sea and familiarize yourself with the works of James Joyce or Oscar Wilde over a few pints of stout.

Renegade Brewing Company. Looking for something a bit more rebellious? Try a grabbing the litigiously-rechristened Redacted IPA along with Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. Aviators and Chuck Taylors are not necessary, but couldn't hurt. Renegade also has an associated book-themed restaurant, the Renegade Publik House, which offers the perfect environment to delve into some Italo Calvino novels.

De Steeg Brewing. In the alley off of 44th Ave. between Tennyson St. and Stuart St. there is a little wooden sign of a Belgian beer glass hanging from the back of a building. This is the understated entrance to De Steeg Brewing, purveyor of hardy libations. The modest location belies the ambition of their beers and is the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of their Het Huis with a copy of recent MacArthur Fellow Donald Antrim's darkly hilarious debut novel Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World.

Black Shirt Brewing Co. Completely unique red ales served in equally unique glasses. Such a sui generis brewery should be paired with a like book, but I don't intend to foist Finnegans Wake on anyone. So instead, I will consider the color of their ales and the attitude of Johnny Cash looming over the taproom and pair this phenomenal brewery's standard Red Ale with Cormac McCarthy's inimitable Blood Meridian.

Strange Brewing. Big, bold, American styles. Sounds like just the place to tackle the bugbear of American fiction: postmodernism. Maybe you want to ease into that world with Donald Barthelme's Forty Stories or Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. Or, throwing caution to the wind, you could slap your copy of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow onto the bar and order a Powerhouse Porter.

Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew. And finally, a brewery simply made for this list. Waltz into this RiNo establishment one fine day with a copy of Charles Dickens' final novel Our Mutual Friend, order a Proletariat Ale, have a seat on their patio, and be thankful that you are not a chimney sweep in 17th century London.

Of course, this list only scratches the surface of what the Denver beer scene has to offer. Share your own "Book & Brew" pairings in the comments below.

Comments

Nice list!

Good call, Jen.

I think Lydia Davis's "Collected Stories" would pair up nicely with a flight from the River North Brewery. Brief and playful with the occasional foray into darkness. Or an absurdist slice of Aimee Bender's "Willfull Creatures" down south at Wit's End.

And while Dorothy Parker (featured in the aforementioned "Portable Curmudgeon") is actually a great fit for Crooked Stave, I see her being most enjoyed at the Great Divide taproom during the hustle & bustle of their busier hours.

I think we need some more lady authors to pair with those fine brews.

for example:
Mountain sun / Vine Street is just made for some classic Emily Dickinson. (please don't read J.D. Salinger there, though, because that place deserves better.)

And i would argue that Sylvia Plath suits Renegade Publik House a little better than Calvino.

Crooked Stave - The Portable Curmudgeon

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