Sometimes you just have to say enough is enough. After 15 some years of participating in the craziness of Saint Patrick’s Day in LoDo, we finally had to throw in the towel and look for an alternative. To be honest, we actually came to that conclusion last year, but with the holiday landing on a Saturday and the Wife recovering from the Cold from Hell, it made the choice this year a little easier.
It wasn’t like we’d be out on that day if it had landed on a week night, we haven’t done that since we were much younger. But we had made it a tradition of going to the parade here in Denver, which is always on the Saturday prior to St. Paddy’s Day when it falls on any other day, and then we’d make the rounds to our favorite Irish bars scattered throughout Downtown. Denver’s parade is something to see, depending upon the year and who you talk to, it rates in the top ten of cities across the country, and is the undisputed largest west of the Mississippi. Lasting a marathon four hours or so, we usually get thirsty about an hour and a half into it; if the Shriners start coming up the street, it’s time to get a beer.
So this year we debated on whether we wanted to brave the throngs Downtown, and as I mentioned before, the Wife’s lingering cold made our choice for us. The decision to head to Strange Brewing was an easy one: they had posted that they’d have Irish inspired food; we love Strange; it’s a straight shot down 13th Avenue from our house, and since we were taking a taxi, we wouldn’t have to worry about the cab driver padding the fare by getting ‘lost;’ it was just enough out of the way we wouldn’t be dealing with drunken twenty-somethings just dropping in; and finally, because we love Strange.
We arrived about a half hour after their Noon opening and were greeted by revelers enjoying the sunny day in the patio area. The garage door wide open, sounds of patrons enjoying a brew or two wafted out to us as I paid the cab driver and wished him well on a day that probably lives in infamy for his trade.
John Fletcher was in residence that day, and greeted us while Jules grabbed our initial pints. He was holding down the fort while Tim was in the thick of it at the new beer tents at the SandLot. With nary an empty stool in sight we settled down at a table to enjoy the first sips of the day. The Wife chose the Ballymaguire Stout, a smooth and rich quaff that lived up to it’s Irish Stout moniker. Me, I stayed true to form and drank the IPAphany IPA, all day.
Before too long, a couple of places at the bar opened up and we continued our conversation with John. I asked him how business was after the New York Times article featuring them and fellow brewers Wit’s End and Denver Beer Co; especially after hearing that Scott from WE had a banner Saturday immediately after it had been released. Ironically, Strange had their busiest day ever the Saturday before the article came out. Visits were up overall though after the article, and they were very happy that they can better keep up with the demand with their seven barrel system purchased last year.
Traffic was brisk that day both with regulars and customers riding the brew tours, tasting both the standard line up, as well as the stout and the Powerhouse Porter on tap for the day. Overall, the crowd was about perfect for us; just full enough to make you feel festive without squeezing your way to get anywhere. The busiest spot of the day, other than the bar, was in front of the Worldwide Vittles food cart, set up that day to provide scrumptious eats for the famished.
Their Ruben Rolls satisfied with large chunks of corned beef complimented by just enough sour kraut in egg roll wrappers and deep fried. Combined with the sinfully delicious homemade tater tots (filled with bacon and scallions), which the Strange staff referred to as ‘crack balls,’ it was a hearty meal that fueled our relaxed day.
Finishing up our grub, we introduced ourselves to the latest patron of the afternoon, John, who was on his own personal Brew Trek. After buying Ed Sealover’s book, Mountain Brew: A Guide to Colorado’s Breweries, he had decided to seek out every brewery listed in it and have each brewer/owner sign it. And as is always our luck, it turned out that John grew up in the same area as the Wife had on the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border. This has happened to us so many times in our travels throughout the years, that it’s almost a game to guess who is from the same region.
As the sun sank closer to the horizon, we finished up our last beers and called a cab to take us home. The taproom was becoming increasingly full at that hour, and we were more than happy to give up our seats to those who wanted to party till closing, or their drinking penchant gave up. Besides, we had some hockey games to watch.
Tuning in the AVs game when we got home, we both felt it had been a much more relaxed Saint Patrick’s Day. We may still make the marathon imbibing trek in LoDo some year in the future, but whenever it gets to be too much, we know we can spend a less hectic day at any number of our excellent craft breweries here in Denver.