May 1, 2013

Brewery Rickoli

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Rickoli 2

Last fall, Wheat Ridge got their first brewery, finally checking that box to become a legit modern metro Denver neighborhood. Brewery Rickoli, located on busy Wadsworth Avenue, was the suburb’s only brewery though they’ll now have to share the title with the newly-opened Colorado Liquid Arts on 38th Ave. Located in a small stripmall, the place is easy to miss sandwiched between Buy Back Games and Black & Read III (can someone please explain this name to me?). Unassuming and ultralow key, Rickoli’s is quintessential Wheatridge. Not uberhip like Our Mutual Friend, a “bro” joint like Denver Beer Co, or a euro throwback like Prost, no Rickoli’s feels like a neighborhood bar that just happens to brew their own beer.

The space bears head brewer, Rick Abitbol’s, nickname, which is a combination of his first name and Spicoli (a la Sean Penn’s greatest character). Rick + Spicoli = Rickoli. Spicoli would probably approve of the place too; there is a bucket of free cheeze balls on hand and all of the shirts for sale are tyedye. The walls are relatively unadorned save a few random beer signs, posters about community events, and a collection of TV’s playing ESPN. Classic rock rules the PA and families gather over takeout from nearby Mexican Restaurant, El Jalisciense.

They have a throng of beers and there are usually 12 or so on the tap, with a whole spectrum of styles on offer. Light or dark, hoppy or sweet, strong or sessionable; they’re all available in some form. In addition, Rickoli’s shares the distinction of being a “low gluten” brewery. Meaning, the beers aren’t gluten free, but rather post-processed to remove much of the gluten from the finished beer; something many celiac suffers will surely welcome.

While not dominant in all their beers, hops are clearly dear to the brewer’s heart with their list carrying a bevy of hop-heavy ales. My far and away favorite (hoppy or otherwise) is the Session IPA, which weighs in at a modest 5% ABV, but still packs a hop wallop. Bursting with citrusy, floral American hops, it proves that an IPA doesn’t have to be high in alcohol to be enjoyable. On the other end of the spectrum they have the Black Pline, a black double IPA. Weighing in at 9.7% ABV, its intense bitterness and dark, smoky malts, will certainly be a change of pace for anyone bored with their everyday beer.

For the malt-centric beer drinker, look for their M.E.H., a sweet, yet quaffable 4.7% cream ale. Or on the stronger side of things, the 8% Social Lubricant Scotch Ale is intensely malty with rich, gooey kettle-caramelized aspects that can only come from a lengthy boil.

Beer prices are on par with Denver’s somewhat pricey brewery scene with pints varying between $4.50 and $6. Food offerings are limited to a small cheese plate ($5), Baker Street pretzels ($3), and Cookie Brewer cookies ($2). The latter being cookies baked with Rickoli’s beer. Nearby food options abound though and the purveyors are more than happy to have you bring your own food in.

On a recent visit, a guy saddled up at the bar next to me, looking for a pint to watch the game with. Thinking at first it was just another bar, he looked bewildered at the beer list in front of him. “They make their own beer here?” he asked, concerned. However, worry quickly turned to surprise after taking a sip. “Wow, I thought that was going to be one of those weird fancy beers, but this is good!” That’s what’s great about a place like Rickoli’s. It’s down-to-earth feel and approach enables it to truly be a neighborhood place; where both the beer geeks and their next door neighbor can bump into each other.  I think Spicoli could get behind that.

4335 Wadsworth Blvd

(303) 344-8988

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