March 15, 2018
Dates: February 20-22, 2018
Purpose: Client meetings
I go to Denver quite a bit. My business partner and creative director lives in the Mile High City, as well as some of our key clients. It’s a city I’ve grown to love. Great food, great breweries, great distilleries, close to mountains and the sun always seems to be shining. I think I could live in Denver.
For my last trip, the main focus was a client strategy session. Great, intense meetings with excellent conversations, ideas and smart people. A success I would say.
But what about the food and drink? It was a short trip, but I do have some things to chat about.
Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales
This has become my first stop every time I’m in Denver, and this visit was no exception. I had the pleasure of meeting James and Sarah Howat, the brewery’s owners, at the 2017 Honey Beer Summit in Austin. Unbelievably nice and smart people who happen to craft some of the best spontaneous fermentation beers in the United States.
For this visit, I was able to taste two of their beers I have not had before. The first was Altair, a low ABV table beer with Black Trumpet mushrooms added to the coolship. I’ve had other “mushroom beers” before and have never been impressed. Always too much of a heavy hand with the ‘shrooms, which in turn overpowered any nuance of the beer. Not surprisingly, Black Project was able to bring out the nuance of the mushrooms in the finish while still retaining the base beer’s tart nuance. A unique and tasty beer.
Next, I ordered a small pour of Phazotron, the brewery’s sour wheat that uses wild yeast from Merlot grapes from Colterris Vineyards in Palisade, Colorado. After aging, the beer is refermented on a “large amount of raspberry.” A “large amount” is underselling it. This beer was a fruit bomb. A jammy, flavor-packed wheat beer that exploded in your mouth. I’m a big fan of breweries pushing the boundaries of fruit usage to where I question whether I’m drinking a wine or beer, and Phazotron ranks right up there with the best I’ve had. If you happen to be In Denver, check out Black Project Spontaneous and Wild Ales.
The best airport restaurant in the country?
My hectic travel schedule and aversion to fast food has me dining at quite a few airport restaurants. Most are mediocre at best, and I get that. However, Denver has a gem with Root Down. I’m pretty familiar with the restaurant, having visited their non-airport establishment multiple times, as well as their location in DIA. I know it’s great food, especially for an airport, but the Banh Mi Sandwich I had on this visit ranks up there with the best sandwiches I’ve had in a while.
I was worried about the use of turkey meatballs, but they perfectly complemented the more traditional ingredients in a great Banh Mi. The service was pretty impressive as well for a restaurant that’s always insanely packed full of impatient travelers.
Quick hits from this Denver trip
- North Italia: Excellent meal made even more impressive by the fact they were serving our group of 20+ people. I had the short ribs, and they were pretty perfect.
- Honey and Coffee: Buy into the hype. I had the fun job of sampling some coffee drinks with honey as part of my meetings and came away very impressed, especially with a Honey Cortado that had turmeric.
- Ballast Point Red Velvet: Jonathan has been raving about this oatmeal stout quite a bit, and I was excited to try it. Unfortunately, I do not share Jonathan’s admiration. For me, it was a one-note beer and the one note tasted like artificial flavor.
- Epic Brewing Company Tart ‘n Juicy Sour IPA: This was the second sour IPA I’ve had, and it makes me wonder why more brewers aren’t making this style. I loved it.