Each year there are more-than-a-few Houstonians who head to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver; staff from local breweries, of course, but also those who just enjoy their products and those of their brethren. Well known by its acronym, the GABF, the 2012 festival is next weekend, October 11 through 13. One of the most common stops for visitors to the GABF is the Falling Rock Tap House in the LoDo area of downtown that is described in the September issue of Imbibe magazine:
LoDo has evolved into a beer-drinking district…its epicenter….’Falling Rock. Chris Black carried the torch for craft beer when there wasn’t even a name for it.’ Until the gregarious Black opened his sprawling haunt – with its 2,000-bottle wall display and dazzling array of nearly 100 taps – 1997, ‘the entire world of beer was coming to Denver once a year,’ Black says. ‘They’d leave the convention center so jazzed to keep drinking, but they had nowhere to go. Every bar had the same 10 taps.’
Most Houstonians traveling to the GABF are unaware of the very strong Houston connection that the Falling Rock Tap House has. The founders and owners are, not just Chris Black but his brother Steve, too, who grew up in Kingwood. Both worked in the beer business in Houston. Chris worked as a bartender at the Mucky Duck and later, briefly, at The Ginger Man. Steve was a manager of The Ginger Man and later helped open its second and third locations in Dallas and Austin, managing the Austin one for a few years. Falling Rock Tap House is consciously modeled on The Ginger Man, which was the first modern beer bar in the country, after all, and a very successful template to follow.
I am a huge fan of Falling Rock Tap House, and have long argued that it is the best beer bar in the whole Mountain Time Zone, if not beyond. I also like the fact that the bar publicized the phrase, “no crap on tap” back when they started. I traveled to Denver for their opening in 1997 and would always visit when work took me to the Denver area. I might be biased, as I am friends with Steve and Chris, and have been known to consume tasty beer in voluminous amounts at times. But, it is not just me who thinks highly of the place: “To this day Falling Rock is at the top of most beer tourists’ to-do lists for its wealth of Belgian and domestic reserves and exclusive one-offs,” further reads the Imbibe article.
Visit if you are heading to GABF, it will be crowded, but they are hosting special events related to the festival. It is enjoyable to visit any other time you are in Denver. Maybe best of all, it is just a block or so from Coors Field. Beer and baseball have long been an excellent match; good beer and baseball – in a beautiful park with terrific weather, too – is an even better one.
Falling Rock Tap House
1919 Blake Street
Denver, Colorado, (303) 293-8338