Things have been a different this year around the holidays. Lots of changes are happening so while I was driving to the beach for a 5 day mini vacation, stuck in traffic, I got a crazy idea in my head. I have wanted to go to Denver for a while now, I had the time, and my bonus was burning a hole in my pocket. It took me just over 5 hours but I finally made it to Rehoboth Beach and started doing research. I knew it would take me two solid days of driving to get there and another two getting back. I could arrive late on Friday and spend all Saturday in Denver. A quick check of local NYE shows and I found that The String Cheese Incident was playing the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield. String Cheese doesn’t tour much so this would be a good opportunity to see them and besides this is a hometown show for them.
Thursday morning I started this adventure by watching the sunrise on the beach. It was overcast with a lite drizzle but I managed to see parts of the sun as it broke the horizon. From here it was nothing but driving across the country. The weather on the east coast wasn’t to great. I drove through snow, rain and fog for about half the day. I made a reservation for a hotel in St. Louis and didn’t make it there till around midnight. One day done and my old bones where already starting to feel it.
The next morning started early, I was out the door around 7am. I knew this last part of the trip would take me a solid 12 hours and I wanted to spend at least some time that night having some fun. On the outskirts of St. Louis another idea started to take shape. I would have been perfectly happy going to Denver on my own but instead I brought Nancy and Jeremy with me. It was a busy morning making a lot of phone calls and booking travel but totally worth it. This was shaping up to be a pretty awesome last minute adventure for New Year Eve.
I drove all day and watched the sun set across Kansas which was really nice. Finally I made it to Denver and when you come in on 70W you round this slight hill and then the city just appears in front of you. It is this massive city with suburbs that go for miles. Honestly I was shocked at how big Denver is. On Saturday as we drove around I got a better idea just how big it is. By the time I got into town Nancy had already landed and made her way to the hotel to check in. I didn’t arrive till almost nine but it felt good to finally be in Denver. Jeremy was on a later flight so Nancy and I head to True Food Kitchen just down the street for dinner. After crap food for two days I wanted something super health and True Food Kitchen delivered. They also had beer so it was my first sample of beer from Colorado. Eventually Nancy and I retired to the hotel bar for another drink and this is when Jeremy arrived. He worked a full day and then hopped on a plain so didn’t get in till almost 11.
Saturday, New Years Eve. We all had tickets to SCI but we had a ton of time to kill before the show started. We started with breakfast on the top floor which over looked the front range. When I came into town it was already dark so this was my first sight of the mountains. Denver is already a mile high and I knew the mountains where much taller still. The mountains stretched for as far as the eye could see. Denver is still a good distance away but they still looked impressive. At breakfast we strategized what our plan would be for the day. It really came down to what brewery we could find that was open at 10am.
All day we traveled across the city visiting as many breweries as we could. By the end of the day we hit four in all and one restaurant that served some really good food and had a ton of local craft beer on draft. First up was CO Brew which we thought we got wrong when we pulled up. It is a home brew retail store and not a brewery per say. We found they do in fact brew beer on premise, they teach glasses on home brewing so make a tone of beer. Very interesting place to have our first beer of the morning. As cool as everything was it didn’t inspire me to start home brewing.
On the recommendation of the bartender we went to Black Sky Brewing next. This spot is certainly geared toward metal and hard rock. My first impression was that this place would be an interesting stop on our trail, just a minor speed bump. Of all the places this was the one I liked best. The beer was good but it was the people that made it so enjoyable. Not only was the staff very friendly but the other patrons really made it a fun time doing a little day drinking.
Black Sky sent us to Strange Craft down by the river. This is a small hole in the wall but it had character. Here the beer was very good with a wide variety to choose from. We got to talking and the guys from Black Sky actually got their start at Strange Craft doing a home brew startup thing. Small world when you think about it. By this time we all where pretty hungry and headed over to Sloan’s Lake Tap and Burger for some food. The burgers where all really good and the selection of local craft was amazing. Very nice decor on the inside with huge ceilings and plenty of space for guests. The building is brand new but the neighborhood could still use some work.
By now it was getting pretty late in the afternoon so we headed back to the hotel to rally for String Cheese. I really wanted to take a nap because day drinking really wears me out but there was no time for that. We got an Uber and headed to one last brewery before the show. The last place we went to was 4 Noses Brewing just a couple blocks from the venue. It was a nice place so close but honestly I didn’t care for the place. The brewery is brand new and modern but it lacked character. I also thought the beer all tasted pretty much the same. It didn’t matter what style you got, they all had this underlying orange citrus taste to them. They even all looked similar. As much as I wanted to like the place I just couldn’t bring myself to find anything good about it.
Doors for the show were at 7 with the performance starting at 8. It was all general admission so we didn’t feel a need to arrive early and grab a spot. I was just happy to be there. I unfortunately could only manage the first set before I had enough. The long day of drinking and two days of straight driving was catching up with me. Nancy and I decided to head back to the hotel and Jeremy stayed for the remainder of the show. The report the next morning from Jeremy was good and I have listened to the show several times at this point.
As soon as my head hit the pillow it felt like it was time to get up and get going. I dropped Jeremy and Nancy off at the airport and started back home to Virginia. Getting back was just as interesting crossing the country but not much inclement weather this time. Just like going out to Denver I stopped in St. Louise for the night. I got home before midnight on Monday which was my goal and got to work the next morning right on time.
Not sure if I will drive that far again anytime soon but it was a great trip further west then I had ever been before. Seeing String Cheese Incident, even if it was just for one set during a three set night was still worth it. I was able to cross several more breweries off my list. Honestly there wasn’t a bad part about the trip. Already thinking about seeing Medeski, Martina and Wood at Red Rocks in late April just so I can spend more time in Denver.