A hand-painted sign with an arrow pointing down the street, and with the words “2nd Largest Brewery in Golden,” led to the not-easy-to-find Golden City Brewery. It’s clearly a self-effacing, tongue-in-cheek reference to Coors Brewing Co.— the third-largest brewer in the United States and the largest brewery on a single site in the world. Nailed to the side of the sign was a small dry-erase board promising “a selection of five (5) REAL beers.” Another reference to Coors.
I told a friend I was going to Golden City Brewery and she said, “I think it’s just a bunch of kegs in some guy’s backyard.” She was only partially right.
There really were kegs in the backyard, which had been transformed into a beer garden complete with picnic tables, patio furniture and a fire pit. The lawn had been covered in grey landscaping stones. And the brewpub itself — a small bar with indoor
seating for 13 to 15 people — really is a converted house in a residential neighborhood of Colorado’s first capital. It looks odd at first, and, to be honest, a little shoddy, but there’s something about it that’s quintessentially Coloradan: unassuming, honest, unpretentious.
I interrupted manager Dave Everhart while he was washing the floors before the brewery opened on a Thursday morning. We found a few cushioned patio chairs in the beer garden and talked while I tried to figure the place out.
Dave said the owners, Charlie and Janine Sturdavant, wanted to “give the feeling that you’re drinking in somebody’s garage.” This isn’t the place to go to see and be seen; it’s the place to kick your boots up after a hard day’s work, the place to relax with friends and strangers alike while drinking good — very good — beer.
Golden City Brewery’s beer is available on tap at a number of local restaurants and bars — from My Brother’s Bar in Denver to Golden’s own Table Mountain Inn — and you can find its bottles in retail liquor stores in the greater-Denver area. “We’re getting to a point where our growth is really steady, really strong,” Dave said. “We almost can’t keep up with the demand.”
Of course, the best place to get their beer is at the brewery itself.
I fell in love with the pale ale, Clear Creek Gold, and with Mad Molly Brown, one of the best micro-brewed brown ales I’ve had since I left my hometown brewery back in Michigan. Anybody who drinks microbrews will tell you that for flavor, alcohol content and character you can’t beat this brewpub down the street. Even Golden City’s Evolution IPA was palatable — the highest praise I’m willing to give any India Pale Ale, a brew style that’s usually too hoppy for me. Golden City Brewery doesn’t make what Dave calls “in your face beer,” just big brews with a lot of flavor.
The brewery is open Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Odd hours for a bar, but, as Dave explains it, “we’re in a neighborhood and it’s a sort of handshake agreement with the neighbors.” Sitting in the beer garden it’s almost impossible to forget that families live in the houses across the street.
For the second largest brewery in Golden, it all comes down to the atmosphere. It’s not for everybody; if you want a place to get dolled up and mingle with singles until 2 in the morning, it’s not for you. It might not even be for me. I’ll admit I was skeptical when I saw the portable toilet in the beer garden (Dave assures me they need it — in addition to their indoor bathroom — in the summer, when on Friday and Saturday after 4 p.m., “good luck finding a seat”), but that’s exactly the kind of place this is. If you don’t like it, go up the street where the beer isn’t as good and the people aren’t as friendly. Or go drink in your own garage.
Perhaps the best testimony to Golden City Brewery is a select group of regulars that come in three or four times a week. Dave pointed out a picnic table in one corner of the beer garden and smiled. “When the weather’s nice out here, that table is full of Coors employees.”
If You Go
Golden City Brewery, 920 12th St., Golden, (303) 279-8092, www.gcbrewery.com
Josh Bishop is a recent journalism graduate of Metropolitan State College of Denver.
From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.