Pub/Bar of the Month June 2010: Falling Rock Tap House
Falling Rock Tap House, Denver, USA
Denver is a great city for craft beer. You really don’t need to seek it out. You find it in restaurants, you find it in hotel bars, you find it at the airport. Even the Coors-sponsored baseball stadium has its own microbrewery delivering far better options than the ubiquitous Coors Light.
The Mile High City is the home of Great Divide Brewing and it’s where Flying Dog began life.
There are fine brew pubs such as the Wynkoop and the very first branch of Rock Bottom, and, of course, it’s the place where the Great American Beer Festival is held every year.
To stand out against such a vibrant background is quite a feat, but that’s what the Falling Rock Tap House manages to do.
Falling Rock is the brainchild of Chris Black, who opened the bar in a functional red-brick building in the LoDo (Lower Downtown) area in 1997, just a couple of blocks from Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team.
Almost immediately it imprinted itself on the consciousness of America’s beer cognoscenti.
The layout and design of the pub are basic and frill-free. Upstairs there’s booth seating, leather sofas and stools at the long bar, with old brewery advertisements breaking up the exposed brick walls; in the basement you can play pool and darts.
Bare board floors and dark ceilings make things a little on the gloomy side but, believe me, all the sunshine you need is delivered by the bar and its stunning beer provision.
Falling Rock boasts more than 75 taps, pouring regular favourites and more exotic guests day in, day out. Take your pick from the likes of Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Odell IPA, Russian River Damnation and Avery Maharaja, or imports such as Houblon Chouffe, Fuller’s London Porter or Chimay Cinq Cents. Hand-pulled cask ales are served, too.
More than 2,000 bottles line the walls. They are empty, the contents mostly consumed by Chris himself over the years. But there are 130 full bottles, or more, in the coolers, should the astonishing array of taps somehow not deliver quite what you require. How about a Lost Abbey 10 Commandments, a Rochefort 8 or a Unibroue Fin du Monde?
Food, somewhat inevitably, takes a back seat to beer but it plays its secondary role well here, with just enough choice to keep drinkers happy and service running late into the night.
Sandwiches and burgers take up most of the menu, served with fries that are hand cut, but there are salads if you want something lighter or you can pick on a few spicy buffalo wings.
For those who see beer as a religion, rather than a pastime, the Falling Rock should be designated a holy place, especially as it is the first point of call for many pilgrims whenever they are in this beer-drenched city.
During Great American Beer Festival week (festival dates this year are 16–18 September), the pub soars to new levels of popularity. Special events run daily, with kegs and casks of unusual beers (even for this place) tapped to great acclaim and generally drained within minutes.
If you do manage to squeeze in for a beer, you’ll probably have to drink it on the terrace outside as both internal levels will be loaded with beer fans. But you’ll be rubbing shoulders (quite literally) with like-minded travellers and the company is good.
The Falling Rock’s philosophy is simple and summed up neatly in its direct slogan, ‘No Crap on Tap’. If only more pubs had such conviction.
Falling Rock Tap House, 1919 Blake Street, Denver, Colorado
Tel. (303) 293-8338
Opening Hours: 11am–2am