Ah, craft beer. It’s as if it flows directly from the glaciers sitting high at the peaks of the Rockies. Well, more appropriately, that would be a Coors reference. And if I’m being totally honest, there’s nothing more delicious than a cold stubby bottle of Banquet on a bluebird day. Oooh, you weren’t expecting that, were you?

So, here’s the thing. I don’t like being a beer snob. Alas, the beer world kind of just happened to me. No matter where I found myself in life, I always somehow ended up on one side of the bar or the other. It’s inescapable. A sort of lifeblood. And truly, I don’t consider that much of a problem. When I was first introduced to the craft beer scene, I fell in love with the surprising revelation that beer didn’t have to taste like my dad’s garage. I came of age at 21 in Kansas City, Missouri and successively forced my friends to play beer pong with my first crafty that ever touched my lips: Boulevard Wheat, straight from the source. After a decade or so in the industry, I have experienced the fascinating evolution of craft beer and beer culture. Beer is no longer just some obscure conversation topic we used at parties to feel sophisticated—even my mom now has a preference of IPA. Nor is it some dad-hobby disguising hooch as passable booze—the home brewers have all crawled out of their basements and flipped their talents into a lucrative industry. Indeed, craft beer has been around a lot longer than marijuana has been legal, when everyone abandoned their overpriced California apartments and overwhelming traffic to migrate here and create overpriced apartments and overwhelming traffic (guilty as charged). That said, the boom has fared well in the industry by establishing a competitive market. It is safe to make an official claim: the crafties have taken over. And in no place more famously than here in Denver.

With something like 60 breweries as of this year and counting, it is feasibly impossible to drink through them all at once (or is it?). Denver has become completely saturated with brewers trying to make a living off of what they love to do, and that locally-minded marketplace culture that has remained in light of the city’s rapid growth is essentially what makes Denver so special. It’s not just the beer, it’s the people doing it. And the people—like you and I—supporting it. It’s the unique vision of each brewer, the atmosphere and vibe of each individual taproom. Every time you walk into a new brewery you haven’t been before it is as if you are being welcomed into someone’s home. The beer, a shared offering.

So, while each week I’ll share with you another Denver’s own brewery, don’t expect to read about how many locally harvested fresh-hops make up the IBUs in the newest quadruple hazy IPA sessionable sour blah blah blah. There’s only so many times a person can read “on the nose” and “head retention” before you start to just want a damn Banquet. Beer is more than the sum of its reviewed parts—more than how craft beer culture has seemingly vivisected it. Frankly, it can become tired jargon. A kind of beerspeak used to impress and prove something; that you belong here. Well, I am here to tell you, you already do. Now, don’t get me wrong, I could talk shop all day—catch me on a Friday afternoon, and I’m likely doing just that. But for the purposes of this blog, I’m here to bring us to the heart of it all. To the brewers, the open doors, the regulars who, despite having hundreds of options, still end up at their favorite taproom every weekend. To the families who have poured their lives into their establishments, all in the name of the craft. I will be taking you to some new, some old, some totally different, and some exactly as commonplace as you’d want it to be. All right here in Denver, giving you precisely what you need: dang good beer.

Erica Hoffmeister earned an MFA degree in creative writing and an MA in English from Chapman University of Orange. She has creative work published in the literary journals Shark Reef, Rat’s Ass Review, Split Lip Magazine, and others. She has been teaching for over a decade (claiming 8th grade as her favorite grade level because she’s an actual crazy person) and currently teaches composition and literature courses for Morgan Community College out of Fort Morgan. Always considering herself a bit of a beer nerd, she met her husband at Our Mutual Friend brewery while on vacation and fell in love with him, Denver, and its beer scene in one fatal swoop. While born and raised in Southern California, don’t worry—she’s earned her spurs as a transplant by creating her very own Colorado native. As a new mom, she is currently renegotiating her role as a world-traveling, bar-hopping, beer-loving free spirit by taking advantage of Denver’s beer culture, where you can find as many babies in breweries on any given afternoon as beers on tap.