Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Denver Trip - Falling Rock Tap House

I'm on a week-long business trip to Denver, so will be posting from that great beer destination this week.

Although I've visited Denver multiple times in the past few years, I've never visited Denver's quintessential destination pub, Falling Rock Tap House. This trip I made it my goal to do so and did indeed get to visit the pub during my trip. It was a beautiful evening in Denver, so I initially sat on the outdoor patio. I've remarked on previous visits to Denver how much I enjoy the smoke-free bars and restaurants. However, this does mean that the outdoor seating areas are where the smokers gather. After just a minute or so on the patio, I moved indoors to avoid the smoke.

Falling Rock is dark, with wooden tables and booths, and the walls are covered with breweriana. There's an impressive wall of taps behind the bar offering a decent selection of Colorado beers. Besides many non-local beers there are also quite a few Belgian beers offered. The place has an easy going, comfortable feel about it. I scanned the beer menu for something unavailable in the East and ordered an Alaskan Amber. I've heard great things about Alaskan Brewing, especially regarding their Smoked Porter, but the Amber was the only Alaskan beer on this list. The beer was red-orange in color with a thin head. A faint malt aroma was followed by a mild bready tast with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Not a bad beer, but I was looking something more flavorful.

I paired my beer with a "Southwest Burger". Falling Rock shines when it comes to the beer selection, I was less than impressed with my dinner order. The burger was a thin, obviously pre-formed, frozen patty nested on a large white bread bun. Add a slice of cheese, a dollop of guacamole, and a single roasted jalapeƱo, and you have it. Oh yea, a side of thin, very greasy fries rounded out the meal. I've read tales of poor service at Falling Rock, but I did not experience that. My server was attentive, although he didn't even slow down when passing by to drop off my food. Well, I was here for the beer anyway.

After I paid my dinner check I was joined by Josh Mishell from Flying Dog Brewery. Josh and I are "virtual" acquaintances, but had not previously met in person. We've moved to the bar and had a very enjoyable conversation over beer. The bar tender was very friendly, and generous with samples when we had questions about a selection.

Josh and I tried out a few different beers during our visit. One "beer find" for me that evening was Laughing Lab Scottish Ale from the Bristol Brewing Co. This was suggested by the bar tender, and turned out to be an excellent suggestion. This Scottish Ale pours a dark mahogany color. The aroma was malt and caramel with a hint of smokiness. In the flavor there's a nice balance of sweet and roasted malt flavors. A pleasant hop bitterness finishes it off. I enjoyed this beer very much. Unfortunately it was my last beer of the evening as it was time to head back to the hotel to recover from a long day of travel.

So, I finally "did" Falling Rock. I could have skipped the food, and easily spent a longer time exploring the beer menu. Perhaps next time. I do recommend visiting Falling Rock when in Denver.

I also had an interesting walk back to my hotel. Two small dark helicopters had been circling the downtown area all evening. During my walk I watched them repeatedly land and lift off from the roof of a tall building, circle the city, and then repeat the process over and over. Even after I retired for the evening I could hear them flying over. Folks here think this is some sort of preparation for the Democratic National Conference to be held in Denver this August. In any event it created quite a "buzz".

Update: The Rocky Mountain News has a story on the helicopters. Apparently U.S. military Special Operations commandos are conducting counter-terrorism training.


  1. Good to hear you are enjoying your Colorado visit. I tried a Laughing Lab for the first time about a month ago. I got it from a 6-pack that I bought at the store. I've heard that the Laughing Lab is probably Bristol's 2nd best beer next to their Winter Warlock. I thought it was ok, but much tamer than some of the hop bombs I've been drinking as of late. Probably tastes much better from a tap.

  2. This was the first Bristol beer I've had, so I can't compare it to their others. I enjoy the style though. Odell 90 Shilling is another I enjoy whenever I'm in the area.

  3. Hey guys! Wish I would have known about David's trip to CO before he was IN CO! I would have tried to get up there for the day. Oh well... next time.

    Bristol... now you're talking about a brewery in my neck o' the woods. I'm not a fan of the Laughing Lab, (don't like the style), but love the Warlock (only in the winter). My fave from them during the summer (and which I was sucking down several last night) is their Beehive. Good stuff!

    Next time you're in the CO David ya gotta come down here to the Springs and check out our fine selection of breweries (for such a small town). With in the next few months we'll have 3 that have opened up recently (Trinity Brewing Company, headed up by Bristol's old brewer, looks to be amazing!).

  4. Eli,

    Sorry I missed you, most of the "pre-planning" was via Twitter. Next time I'd like to get to Colorado Springs.


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