February 7, 2013

Wit’s End Brewing Company

WitsEnd

By now, just about everyone in America has heard the term “microbrewery”. In the craft brewing revival of the 90’s people needed a term to differentiate these new independent breweries that were popping up. After all, the next step up was the gigantic lager factories of Miller, Anheuser-Busch and Coors, and these little upstarts were “micro” in comparison.

Fast forward to 2013 and it’s not so easy to see where the lines fall anymore. Breweries like New Belgium, Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada which started out as microbreweries, certainly are no longer micro (the debate rages on as to what they should be called). And on top of that, there’s a brand new breed of breweries so small that even calling them micro seems a stretch; earning them the moniker, “nanobrewery”.

So, are nanobreweries really a 1,000 times smaller than a microbrewery? Well, it depends on your definition of microbrewery, but they’re defined as having a brewing capacity of four barrels or less. Which, when compared to New Belgium’s brewing capacity of 840,000 barrels, is downright tiny.

And right here in our neighborhood is a great example of one: Wit’s End Brewing, located in the industrial area south of the football stadium (FYI, don’t use Google Maps, instead check the website for directions). Their brew setup is only a single barrel, certainly qualifying them as a nano, and they call their focus “New American Brewing”.  Think something akin to the creative twists gastro pubs take with traditional dishes like braised duck tacos or lobster mac ‘n’ cheese.

A prime example is their Kitchen Sink Porter. Brewmaster Scott Witsoe took a traditional porter-style beer, like say Odell’s Cutthroat Porter, as a base and then went to work adding in smoked malts and rye. This adds an enjoyable complexity to the standard chocolate nuttiness of a porter by adding layers of smoke and peppery spice.

Another case in point is their Wilford IPA. Not content with the caramel malt body and citrusy hops you find in your average American IPA, Witsoe threw in some oatmeal and fermented it with a Belgian yeast strain. The result is a brew that offers up a flurry of tastes and aromas; citrusy hops, creamy oatmeal and a fruity spiciness of the yeast. On top of that, it’s super drinkable, only calling for your attention if you want to give it.

Due to their small capacity, their beer doesn’t make it regularly around town, so the best place to try it is the Wit’s End taproom.  Entering through their garage door, you’ll find a spacious room full of high-top tables, a long bar and church pews. The high, exposed ceilings are covered with a canopy of empty malt sacks giving it a cozy, almost beer tent-like feel.

The beers mentioned earlier are only part of their five standards offerings. In addition, there are usually one or two specialty brews to consider when you’re ordering. Beers come in either 10-oz ($3.50) or 16-oz ($5) sizes and taster flights are also available. Food is limited to Baker St Pretzels ($3.50) and bags of chips for 50 cents, though food trucks make occasional appearances.

So, while the list of neighborhood breweries keeps growing, the quality hasn’t diminished a smidge. And why should it? We are some savvy beer folks and demand the best. With another great option like Wit’s End to add to our resume, I think North Denver is making a case as one of the best beer neighborhoods not just Colorado, but the country. Be sure to get out there and enjoy a pint or two.

 

Wit’s End Brewing Company

2505 W 2nd Ave. Unit 13

303-459-4379

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