There was a time back in the Seventies and Eighties when Glendale, and the portion of Denver abutting it, was party central. Dance and night clubs lined Leetsdale from I-225 to Colorado Boulevard, providing endless debauchery, drinking and both live music and tunes spun off of vinyl before LPs were hip and ironic.
From the legendary Mr. Lucky’s with two stages of live Rock, to the dance floors of Neos and its much more exclusive Piranha Room, the clubs were packed every night with gyrators, headbangers, poseurs, and revelers all looking to go home with somebody. And all of this swinging bacchanalia owed a debt to one trailblazing establishment a few blocks away from the Leetsdale craziness: the Bull and Bush.
Opened in 1971 by brothers Dean and Dale Peterson, B and B quickly became a center for music, socializing, and imbibing. During those early years it was the place to be for swinging singles, and as the menu expanded, for families. Memories of the juicy burgers devoured, the Old World decor, and the early 70s young professionals who frequented the bar in those early years stayed with me over time as I grew up.
The long haired, bellbottomed ghosts from that era were almost material as I introduced the Wife to the Bull and Bush some years ago. It seemed nothing had changed in the intervening years, the dark timbers, wood paneled walls, English pub memorabilia, and copper topped bar and tables look much the same as when the doors were first opened.
The original intention of the founders of B and B as a traditional pub remains intact still. The same can’t be said of the neighboring clubs it saw come and go in the intervening years. The passing of the national 21 drinking age, causing 3.2 bars to be irrelevant; the crackdown on drunk driving; and the shifting of nightlife to LoDo all contributed to the Glendale nightclubs’ demise. But Bull and Bush has persevered by adapting to changing tastes and the rise of craft beer.
In the Nineties, Dale’s sons Erik and David took over the day to day operations, and by ’97, began a brewing operation for the bar. The quality of those first brews made an impression on the craft beer faithful and ushered in a new age of packed houses. Recognition soon arrived via medals won at both GABF and the World Beer Cup, reinforcing what its patrons knew all along.
The food is still a mainstay also, the burgers being some of the best in the city and now complimented by their fresh beer. The Petersons have looked to the future in the kitchen too, recently expanding what was a tiny hole in the wall space original meant only for preparing the sandwiches.
While the tap list rotates, fan favorites like the award winning MAN BEER IPA can be had any day of the year. Generous amounts of citrusy hops balance out the huge malt load, making it a full bodied, delicious quencher. I always have a hard time ordering anything else when we stop in, but the ever changing possibilities on tap entice, making at least a pint of something new a must.
From stouts to farmhouses to ESBs, everything we’ve tasted from the brewpub has been interesting and well made. Red Eye Espresso Stout, a seasonal, roasty and rich dark dream is one of the Wife’s favorites, while I look forward to The Tower ESB whenever it rotates back to the tap list.
In the end, Bull and Bush has aged well, becoming timeless when other establishments degrade into tacky. It has endured to be nearly all things to all people, a terrific Happy Hour hangout, a family favorite for a bite out, and a craft beer haven. It’s not too hard to imagine at least 40 more years of B and B as a getaway from the everyday.