Spontaneous Brewery Crawl Stop 1: Del Norte Brewing Company

Update: Del Norte closed their brewery in December 2012. It was a shocker, as they seemed to be doing well and were pretty widely distributed around Colorado. We’ll miss our Cincos and Mañanas, but we’ll always have our memories.  Adios amigos.

This weekend we came to a realization.  If we’re going to accomplish our goal of visiting all the breweries in Colorado in a year, we really need to get moving.  One stop a weekend isn’t going to get this job done.  We decided to hit a few spots in Denver on Saturday to make some real progress.  To give each brewery the respect they deserve we’ll write about them each separately, starting with stop numero uno:  Del Norte Brewing Company.

Del Norte Brewing Company

We actually drove by the Del Norte Brewery a few years ago, but being that their tasting room is pretty well-hidden in an industrial park we never actually found the place.  This time we had an exact address, which is a good thing.  If we hadn’t already confirmed on their website that they had a tasting room, we would have never suspected a brewery inside this building.  Let’s just say it’s a well-kept secret.  Perhaps you can invest in a little more signage Del Norte, unless of course, you like the speak-easy feel of your tasting room!

Right now the Del Norte Brewing tasting room is only open Friday and Saturday afternoons and only accepts cash, so plan accordingly.  Inside the tap-room is really cute, with a small bar, a handful of tables and tons of Del Norte awards lining the wall.   It may be hard to find and have limited hours, but if you make it inside you’ll have discovered one of the best beer deals we’ve found in a tasting room so far.  Your first pint of beer is $5, and you keep the glass.  Refills are $3.  If you have an AHA card, the AHA Pub Discount gives you another $1 off pints.  You can even buy 6-packs to go for only $5.  We ended up sampling 5 pints of beer (and taking home 2 glasses) for only $14.  ¡Increíble!

Del Norte brews Mexican-style lager beers, which means they are all light lagers brewed with corn and are all lightly hopped.  The tap-room had 5 beers, but Mañana, their GABF Gold Medal winning Mexican-style amber, was unfortunately out when we visited. The beers we did try were the Órale, Cinco, Luminaria, and El Guapo.  Jeff and I both picked the same beer as our clear favorite:  Órale.   Órale and Cinco are both light lagers, but we both agreed that Órale had a more full-bodied taste than the Cinco.  It would be the perfect beer for a sunny day on the patio with some street tacos.  Mmmm…. street tacos.  Now I need me some Mexican food.  Oh, sorry, I got sidetracked…

The surprise of the day was the El Guapo, a beer we didn’t even know existed until we tasted it during our visit.  A slightly hoppy pilsner, it isn’t even listed on the Del Norte website yet, but is available on tap at a few locations.  You can find it this month at all Colorado Old Chicago locations as it’s part of their Cinco de Mayo mini tour.   We also were happy to try Luminaria, their winter brew that still happened to be on tap.  Both were good, but if we were buying 6-packs we’d stick to the Órale or Mañana.  Both were our favorites before the visit, and nothing we tried convinced us otherwise.

Overall we found all the Del Norte beers pretty drinkable.  All light and refreshing, they are all ideal summertime beers.  Plus, at the prices they’re offered at the Del Norte tasting room, we’ll be back again & again.  Next time, we’re totally bringing tacos.