Denver ski snowboard beer

Posted By: Steve Bellamy on November 22, 2009 2:51 pm

It would be very easy to pigeonhole Denvers history with beer with the word – Coors.  Fair enough, but what is the main ingredient in beer…water.  Who has arguably some of the greatest water in the world…the Rocky Mountains.  The same snow that you are skiing and snowboarding on at your favorite Colorado ski resort is what makes Coors…Coors.  But it also makes Denver not just the access point to some of the best skiing in the world, but one of the worlds great beer capitals.

Denver was founded 1859 by miners and pioneers who flocked to the new city after gold was discovered in the Platte River.  Well lets just say that the miners liked to drink and shortly there were saloons and barrooms all over the place.  The hub of most activity was Larimer Square. In fact, the first city government was formed – where else – in a saloon called the Apollo Hall in Larimer Square, which you can check out for yourself at 1425 Larimer Street.

Popularity ensued when a German immigrant named Adolph Coors who was a stowaway on a ship from Europe founded the Coors Brewery in Golden Colorado in 1873.  It became famous locally and then exploded to be one of the most popular beers in the United States.

  It remained family owned until 2006.  Coors still uses the same 44 natural springs that sit on its property to brew its beer today.

During the prohibition years, Coors converted its business to a malted milk manufacturer.  Colorado started prohibition 4 years before the rest of the country so Adolphs family was not the happiest of campers.  The Miller Building at 1401 Larimer St., was once Gahan’s Saloon, a legendary watering hole and poker hall for politicians, policemen and city hall reporters. During the dry years, Gahan’s Saloon became Gahan’s “Soft Drink Parlor” as a cover for the Denver’s hottest speakeasy, which operated out of the basement.


Oktoberfest Denver started in 1969 and was founded by Hertha Thomas-Zagari who had immigrated to Colorado to get to America and still ski.  To keep her feel for Germany, she bought a keg and sold beer from a booth near Larimer Square.  Now the Oktoberfest which is the biggest of its kind gets over 250,000 attendees every year.

Known as the “Napa Valley of Beer,” more beer is brewed in Denver than in any other city in the US.  There 15 brewpubs and microbreweries in downtown Denver including the Wynkoop Brewing Company and the Rock Bottom Brewery which are two of the biggest in the country.  Wynkoops founder John Hickenlooper became the Mayor in 2006.

For 26 years, the Great American Beer Festival has taken place in Denver.  The Guinness Book of World Records toutes the Festival as the place to get the most different kinds of beer in one place.  The three day event brings in about 50,000 people to sample more than 1800 types of beer from over 400 breweries.  It happens at the new home of the SIA ski and snowboard show, the Denver Convention Center. 

This year a new beer fest is being birthed in the mile high city.  The Denver Beer Fest will take place in dozens of locations around the city and will again pay homage to “drinking beer”!

So it is not just about landing in the Denver airport and taking the drive up to the ski resorts.  Stop in in the beer capital of the country and grab a couple along the way.  Of course have a non-drinking driver with you!