Denver Vacation Day 1: Tap the Rockies!

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Greetings from Denver!

It is absolutely gorgeous out here and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. It’s been clear blue skies for two days, and the high yesterday was 57 degrees. Take that, freezing cold tundra that is Iowa! ;)

We arrived via plane Saturday morning and were absolutely giddy to see the mountains in the distance as we drove into town!

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We’re staying at my little brother’s apartment in downtown Denver – an absolute perfect location to walk to all the hustle & bustle, and entertainment that Denver has to offer. I will say, I’m a wee bit jealous!

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We dropped our bags off at the apartment and immediately hit the pavement. First stop was LoDo – lower downtown Denver, CO!

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Oh but first we had to stop for my morning crack pick me up – Starbucks. Then, we were on our way… :)

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Downtown is very unique and special – containing sculptures like these painted sheep. Can you spot IGE?

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They’re known for their 16th Street Mall, which was all decked out for the Holidays. Super cute!

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There was also these really interesting painted pianos that we randomly found throughout the city. They were free to anyone to sit down and play for as long as they liked.

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We sat and listened to this girl for awhile. She was good!

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Downtown Denver also contains a little district called Larimer Square, just off of 16th Street – which is where we headed next. But not before posing with this bear statue we found. There’s a lot of wild life statues around – I dig that! Very representative of the area.

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Ahh – here we are! I’m telling you – this little square is so adorable. Lot of little unique shops and restaurants. We’re going to go back at night because the whole street has been lined and strung with Christmas lights. I can only imagine how beautiful it will be!

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Oh look, we found another piano!

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This time Ben gave it a go.

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He doesn’t even know how to play the piano, yet busted out a tune on the spot. How does he do it, I wonder?

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Sooo, downtown was all well and good – but we have priorities. It was time to tap the rockies – the Coors Brewery Tour was calling our name! :D

The Coors brewery is in the tiny town of Golden, Colorado. It was established during Colorado’s gold rush, and is just as cute as can be!

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It’s about 15 minutes outside Denver, and the drive there was just beautiful.

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Ahh, here we are!

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To get to the actual factory, you park and take a shuttle. All aboard!

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The complex is absolutely massive and looks like it’s floating on water.

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The factory uses water found deep underground to make their beer with, and any surface water is used to cool down the equipment.

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Here’s one of the first brewing kettles used in the 1800s. It was massive!

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Soon enough, we were whisked inside and started the tour. We were given self guided sets that you could hold up to your ear and listen about the entire brewing process. I tried to pay attention as best I could. Here goes…

These are all the beer brands that are produced by Coors. I was surprised by a few!

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Here are the barley, hops & cereal grains that go into every batch of beer.

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The ingredients are combined, “malted” and then brewed.

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These are the giant kettles where the brewing actually takes place. This room smelled like toasted barley – really, really yummy smelling, actually!!

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We also learned that after the beer is separated from the “mash” – ie those grains, hops and barley – they are dried and taken to local farms for livestock to eat. It’s all about giving back! ;)

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See – trying to pay attention… :) 

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Ben too! DSC_0069  

Everything that goes into a bottle or can of beer is produced on site. From the filtered water, to the can making to the…I can’t remember actually – everything though!!

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Soon enough, the tour ended. :(

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Not without some tasting though! :)

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We wet our whistles with some freshly brewed, ice cold, crisp and snappy Coors Light.

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It was truly delish.

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Time to go home? No siree! After our tasting, we headed to the Coors Lounge, where we were treated to three, free beers of our choice. Nice!

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Oh, as soon as we walked in, they handed us the picture they had taken of us at the beginning of the tour. The real picture was $20. The picture of the picture that we took was free. You do the math…

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The lounge was setup just like a real bar, with such nice bartenders and a great selection!

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It was bumpin’!

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And decorated for the holidays. Nice touch, Coors!

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Ben and I grabbed a couple beers, settled in and cheers’d to our first day on vacation!

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I drank a Full Moon (a tad too dark for me) and two Blue Moons (my favorite beer on the planet.)

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It was so great!!

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Free beers will make you do crazy things.

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Luckily, we had water to stay hydrated with. :)

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Look at this gem I found in the gift shop! HA! Don’t worry Ben, I’d never do it. ;)

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Soon enough, our adventure at the Coors Brewery was over!

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While we waited for the shuttle to pick us up, Ben channeled the Larimer Square Bear. Nice job!

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‘Til next time Coors Brewery!

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That night, per your suggestions, we headed to the Cherry Creek district of Denver, to hit up the Cherry Cricket Restaurant.

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Cherry Crick is tres chic, so it was cool to find this cozy, casual restaurant amongst stores like Neimen Marcus and Hermes. 8O

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We got a little cricket stamp when we walked in the door. It was PACKED!! 

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I decided I severely needed vegetables in my life, so I went with the Moroccan Salad. Mixed greens, topped with a marinated flank steak, and artichoke hearts.

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I literally thought I had died and gone to HEAVEN when I tasted this steak!!! 100% hands down, the best steak I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was fork tender and that marinade was so smoky, sweet and Moroccany?? It was absolutely unbelievable in every way. I gobbled the entire thing up!

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The Cherry Cricket is also famous for their Cricket Burgers and Green Chili – so Ben got the best of both worlds when he ordered the Mexican Hamburger. A cricket burger smothered with green chili.

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Seriously – no words. No words can describe how amazing this was!!! We have already decided that we will be eating our last dinner in Denver here at the Cherry Cricket. It cannot be beat!!

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On our way back to the apartment, we spotted this gem. It’s new in town – Wole Foods. Yeah, I hear it’s a lot like Whole Foods?? 

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Kidding!! I almost crashed our vehicle trying to swerve into the parking lot after I spotted this out of the corner of my eye – I adore Whole Foods! I also adore their gelato, so I had some Fleur de Sel Caramel Gelato for dessert.

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Heavenly. Savory, sweet, gooey and an absolutely wonderful way to wrap up our first day in Denver, CO!

Day 2 was a tasty one, recap coming soon, but today we’re off to hit the breweries and see the sights of beautiful Ft. Collins, CO. Viva Vacation!

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Comments

  1. Evan Thomas 12.21.2009

    The fleur de sel caramel gelato sounds so good!

  2. WOW. That is some incredibly gorgeous scenery, girl!! And the gelato…mmm mouth watering!

  3. Those pictures are gorgeous! And I laughed at the bear imitations haaha

  4. Tracy 12.21.2009

    Denver looks incredible! I’ve been talking about going for a while now with my fiancè…I am definitely sold! Thanks for taking awesome pics and giving us a tour. I love the pianos! Austin has big artistic guitars all throughout the city, but you can’t actually play them…so I think Denver wins!

    Also, Blue Moon is my FAVORITE beer too! :)

  5. Love the pictures and the post! Looks like an awesome weekend!

  6. brandi 12.21.2009

    how fun! it’s beautiful there, and I love pianos in town! So cool.

  7. Erin 12.21.2009

    So glad you’re having such a wonderful time! I live in Fort Collins and Denver is like my mecca. LOL! I always love hearing other people’s take on the city. A little tidbit: all of the flowers at the Coors Brewery are grown on site. They specialize in roses and carnations.

    Continue to enjoy your stay in Colorado!!

  8. Graze With Me 12.21.2009

    Yay Fort Collins, I love living in the fort. Make sure you make it to New Belgium Brewery and O’dells. Both are wonderful. Also for food, check out Austin’s American Grill – it’s on the corner of Mountain and College. But you really can’t go wrong wherever you go, it’s such a fun town! Luckily graduation was last weekend so you won’t have to fight through loads of college students either. :)

    Have fun!

  9. Holly 12.21.2009

    gah…BEAUTIFUL!!! so glad you are enjoying your vacay – have a fun rest of your trip xoxo

    p.s. glamour shots photos will need to be postponed until xmas – no time to scan them in :(

  10. Wow – amazing pics! Great recap of the brewery and Colorado. They gave you a ton of free drinks. I went to the Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam and we were only given one freebie!

  11. Dawn Hutchins 12.21.2009

    Wow it looks like you guys had so much fun and Denver is just gorgeous. Isn’t Denver one of the most fit cities or something? I thought I read that somewhere.

  12. Lauren 12.21.2009

    What a fabulous day! Hope you are having tons of fun!!!

  13. Melinda 12.21.2009

    Looks like you are having a great time in Dever. The brewery looks awesome. We did the bud tour in San Fran and it was so much fun. I am glad you are having nice weather.

  14. sassy 12.21.2009

    Looks beautiful! Colorado is great! Blue Moon is one of my favs as well.

  15. intheskinny 12.21.2009

    Gosh, it looks like you are having a wonderful trip. The scenery is gorgeous! I love the pianos around town.

  16. Michelle 12.21.2009

    So much fun and action! The beer factory tour is definitely so interesting sounding!! Gotta hit that up if I ever go to Denver!! :) teehee about Wole Foods…that would be such a bad name for a real grocery store! haha

  17. Katie 12.21.2009

    Between the gelato and brewery I am so jealous!

    Have a nice afternoon,

    Katie

  18. Leah 12.21.2009

    Looks like SO much fun! I was in Colorado in October. We didnt get to see any of Denver though – so disappointed.
    But it really is so beautiful there!

  19. Wow, what great pictures! What a fun trip to the brewery. Looks like you’re having a blast.

  20. LOVE your pics and beautiful piano!!!

    the brewery looks so fun! I have never been on a beer brewery tour but I hear they are great and lots of free samples :) !! I hope you got that shirt ;) JUUUST kidding!

    that steak looks INSANE!!

  21. Suzanne Hull 12.21.2009

    Lived in Denver for a summer during college and NEVER made it to Golden. Looks like I’m going to have to head West soon!

  22. Tricia 12.21.2009

    Wow, such wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Holy pictures! Those were great! Brewery tours are always a blast : ) Enjoy your vacation!

  24. Mary Ann 12.21.2009

    Looks like so much fun! I have a good friend in Denver…I think I should plan a trip to see her. :) I love Blue Moon also, didn’t know it was a Coors product.

  25. Those pianos look totally cool. And I love the look of that food. If I’m ever in Denver again I’ll have to check it out. Enjoy your trip.

  26. Kristine 12.21.2009

    fabulous pictures! I also love your peacoat. Have fun!

  27. Penny 12.22.2009

    Wow! It looks like you are having so much fun!! Have a good time and keep the posts coming. I love going on vacation via the blogosphere. :-)

  28. You should definitely eat at Coopersmith’s in Fort Collins. So good! The Coopersmith’s burger is the best.

  29. Katie 12.22.2009

    Fort Collins is where I live! Have fun!! You didn’t say but just in case you weren’t sure of your plans…A drive up to Horsetooth lake at sunset is gorgeous. If you want to tour New Belgium (best!) check online and sign up for a tour. It may be hard to find an open tour last minute but then again it is the middle of the week. If you can’t get a tour, you can still go do a tasting and self-guided tour! It’s the best brewery in my eyes! Choice City Deli on West Olive Street is my fave- Great great sandwiches, brunch, and amazing beer selection (they are good at recommendations too). A lot of people will recommend Cooper Smith’s (more beer tasting opportunities) but I think there food is mostly standard with a few good dishes. Ok I will stop giving unsolicited suggestions ;) Have fun!!

  30. Denver looks gorgeous!! I would love to go some day…and especially check out the brewery ;). One of my fave activities!

  31. jeri 12.22.2009

    I didn’t realize coors made blue moon! crazy. and i looooove ft. collins. I was there this summer and immediately wanted to move. I hope you hit up the new belgium brewery!!!

  32. I like the pianos!

  33. [...] Comments « Tap the Rockies! [...]

  34. [...] through Boulder (which we also want to explore sometime!!) back to downtown Denver. We had to see Larimer Square all lit up before we [...]

  35. [...] pick up Starbuck’s mugs from the last two places I’ve visited, – New York & Denver – to add to my collection, I made sure I was on top of my game when it came to buying one [...]

  36. [...] whole house smells like toasted barley – really similar to the brewing room at the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado, [...]

  37. [...] guesses? Perhaps Kristin may know this [...]

  38. [...] To my fun loving, [...]

  39. [...] the Rockies, and maybe fit in a Fort Collins brewery tour on bikes. A couple years ago we did the Coors brewery tour in Golden, CO, and the New Belgium Brewery tour in Ft. Collins (a MUST DO for anyone visiting the [...]

  40. Ashlae 03.06.2013

    Your brother and I *might* be neighbors because I live a block from that Starbucks ;) Glad you enjoyed the city!

  41. […] our breakfast with a cruise along downtown Denver’s 16th Street Mall, and reunited with our Larimer Square Bear. Reunited and it feels so go-ood! I can’t even begin to explain […]

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