Saturday, November 7, 2009

Denver's Rackhouse Pub

Craft beer fans in the Denver, Colorado area have a new pub to enjoy. Former Flying Dog employee Chris Rippe opened Rackhouse Pub last week, and it appears to be a hit. I was fortunate to be in Denver last week and my plans included an extended stop at this new pub.

Rackhouse Pub shares space with the Stranahan Whiskey distillery. The pub decor features stacked whiskey barrels along the walls and columns. You can see the distillery operation behind the long bar. The pub features twenty tap lines, pouring 19½ Colorado beers. I say 19½ because the twentieth tap features Flying Dog beer. Flying Dog moved from Denver to Frederick, Md in 2007, although they do still maintain offices in Denver. I sampled a number of Colorada beers during my visit; Avery Old Jubilaton, Dry Dock Paragon Apricot Blonde, Twisted Pine Reily's Oak Whiskey Red, Ska Modus Hoperandi, New Belgium 1554, and Odell Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.

The beer selection at Rackhouse is well thought out and offers much variety. And it's not just craft beer fans being targeted. Even the typical factory beer fan will find a craft beer to enjoy. During my visit Chris was busy introducing factory beer drinkers to craft beer. The bartender who watched over me that evening, Lisa, was very knowledgeable about the beers, and the whiskey. I was also introduced to Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey. I've not tried much whiskey in the past, but I certainly understand why some folks enjoy it so much. This may be a subject to explore further in the future.

Rackhouse is not just about beer and whiskey, there's great food too! On Chris' recommendation, I had the "blacks." Listed as an appetizer, this is a meal in itself. Spiced sausage and mussels prepared with beer and herbs, served with a side of flat bread. The mussels were very tasty and I used the bread to sop up the broth left at the bottom of the bowl. The food menu features a wide selection of pub fare including salads, chili, burgers, and sandwiches.

If I found one negative about Rackhouse Pub it's that it requires a four-hour plane flight for me to visit. You folks in Denver aren't so encumbered. There's a new pub in town, and it's sure to be a hit. Fine, local beer and whiskey, good food, served in a friendly and comfortable setting. It's been just a week since they opened, and they're still awaiting some supplies and tweaking procedures, but already locals are finding a new "favorite pub." I will definitely be back.

Rackhouse Pub is located at 208 South Kalamath St. in Denver.
You can visit them online here.
Follow @RackhousePub on Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. Where to start?? I live in the neighborhood, and I heard someone was finally doing something with the old Heavenly Daze building so I thought I'd stop in for a burger and a beer with my lady.
    that's always my test of a new joint, how good is the burger and the service..
    if the server treats me good when I just order a burger and a beer then I will come back and try something on the menu a little pricier.

    We went in the building and we're told to sit anywhere, the place was pretty much empty except for a partyof 6 or 7 in the middle of the room and about 5 or 6 people at the bar so we grab a booth and wait.
    Our server came by shortly, and that's where things kind of started to go bad.

    We were never offered water to start off...
    The menu she gave me was filthy,
    then I must have tried to order 5 different beers on the menu and was told "oh we're out of that... sorry".. (I haven't heard a server say sorry this much ever)

    Apparently the beer menu is always in flux at this place yet the menu stays the same and the servers really are just guessing as to what is available.

    My girlfriend ordered a Crown and Coke tall without the lime (she's highly allergic to them).. after the waitress leaves she comes back and brings me my beer and says they are also out of Crown.. so she orders a Jack and Coke.. low and behold the drink shows up with a lime on it... so we send that back.. the waitress kind of seems put off by this, but we explain that she is allergic.

    Then another guy finally shows up with a Jack and Coke with no fruit.

    At this point the server still hasn't taken our food order, and she's standing behind the bar chit chatting with a friend.
    When she does come to take our order about 20 minutes have passed. There is only one other table in the restaurant with people at it..

    So we order a couple of burgers... which take forever to get, when the server shows up with them she says "sorry for the wait there were several orders in front of yours"... which from looking around the restaurant I can't even see how this is possible.. The only occupied table in the joint has had food on it since we arrived.

    We ask for mustard and mayo for the burgers.. she brings, mayo and ketchup (again no ketchup, my girl is allergic) and has to go back for the Mustard..

    The burger was dry, the server never asked how we wanted them cooked.. apparently well done is the norm there. The beef had all the flavor and moisture cooked out of it.
    We paid extra for their mac and cheese side, which came out more like soup.. it had decent flavor, but awful mouthfeel, runny, with clumps of cheese half melted.

    She also never came by to check on us to see if we wanted drink refills, I sat for 10 minutes with half a plate of food and an empty beer. We got or check and left.

    Then to top off the evening, by the time we get home my girlfriend is in the midst of a full blown allergic reaction...Apparently they just gave her the same glass with the lime on it and tossed the lime.

    I won't be going back to this place ever, and I'm going to recommend that my friends stay clear of it as well.

    I think the other reviews I see online are done by staff... they are way too detailed and have weird grammatical slips like calling the staff "WE"..

    I've worked in 5 star restaurants in Honolulu, Atlanta, and Denver for years, and my girlfriend has been a bar manager for the last 15 years and this place is probably one of the poorest excuses I've gone to in quite some time.

    Stranahan's should stick to what they do best and just make Whiskey.


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