Boy, it’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write a full-fledged taproom review, and I must admit, it’s pretty exciting. I mean, for better or for worse, I feel like the beginning of 2017 has been kooky, to say the least. As a country, we are embroiled in plenty of partisan arguments, and perhaps the most significant of these revolve around Russia. Did Russian hackers infiltrate our notoriously weak voting machines? Are there members of our government who are merely surrogates for the once-decried “Evil Empire”? Did our president commit some rather unspeakable acts involving a hotel room in Moscow? I mean, who am I to say? I figured, then, the only reasonable way to get back into the taproom review game was to visit the topically named Comrade Brewing Company in Denver.
Politics aside, I’d only been to Comrade Brewing Company once before, although I’ve had their beers other places. Now, if you know me, I love me a brewery with a strong theme, and Comrade is about as strong as it gets. Housed in a plain old red-brick building, Comrade would appear right at home in Leningrad, circa 1975 (aside from The Eagles blasting on the sound system). The interior is industrial, with plain metal tables and chairs, and gray paint on all of the walls. Chinese and Soviet-era propaganda decorate the space, as well as a massive mural of Comrade’s logo, which is a take on the original hammer and sickle of the USSR (except this time, our hammer is barley, and our sickle is a string of hops). A large, curved bar spans the two rooms of the taphouse. With dogs roaming around, and big garage doors letting the light in, Comrade has an incredibly friendly and inviting atmosphere, which might be the biggest difference between the taproom and the stereotypes of The Soviet Union that they are evoking. What better place to spend a Sunday to drink a few craft beers, right?
- Style: Blonde Ale
- ABV: 5.4%
The Yellow Card is one of Comrade Brewing Company’s regular beers. For the most part, the recipe is that of a pretty standard American blonde ale, except for one major inclusion: citra hops. The aptly named hop variety tends to add a lemon-lime kick to any beer it’s in, although the flavor can be more reserved in beers with bigger grain bills. The beer is a clear straw color, with a foamy white head. On the nose, I got a very faint malty characteristic, with lemon and lime zest lingering. The flavor is soft, effervescent, and lightly sweet. To me, it tasted a lot like a more-delicious lemon-lime soda, with a very delicate malt background. This beer is very inoffensive, and definitely should be the first one you try at Comrade. Not because it’s the best on the menu, mind you, but if you were to start with a stronger beer, much of the subtleties in the Yellow Card would be lost.
- Style: Witbier
- ABV: 5.4%
- IBU: 13
Let me tell you about a quick interaction that I had with my bartender when ordering this beer. I was looking over the 14-or-so brews that Comrade had on tap, and I asked about The Specter. With a smile, she tells me that their Belgian wheat ale is “like Blue Moon, but you definitely won’t need a slice of fruit with it.” I do appreciate the sentiment, but I’m not sure comparing your beer to the “craft” project of MillerCoors is exactly the best idea. Either way, I loved the name of the beer (referring to Karl Marx’s first lines in his Communist Manifesto), and brought the opaque, bubbly beer back to my table. Indeed, by scent alone, this beer reminded me of a Blue Moon, with a burst of coriander and faint wheat. That wheatiness did hold through the flavor but mixed sublimely with a lemony citrus kick. The flavor of The Specter reminded me of those Lemon Chalet cookies that the Girl Scouts used to put out in the mid-90s. The beer finishes clean and was perfect for the 90 degree day I was at Comrade. It’s sweet, it’s tangy, it’s biscuity, but it certainly will not weight you down. Eat your heart out, MillerCoors.
- Style: IPA
- ABV: 7.5%
- IBU: 100
The Superpower is Comrade Brewing Company’s best-seller and is one of the regulars on their menu. Every company needs their own flagship IPA, right? Clocking in at 7.5% ABV, with 100 IBUs, this Comrade standard is definitely no joke. The beer pours a burnt sienna with a foamy, persistent head to top off the proper pint. On the nose, I could tell this one as aggressive as Khrushchev banging his shoe on his desk, shouting “We will bury you,” over and over again. This beer smelled syrupy and piney, with hints of grapefruit or other bold citrus notes. The Superpower’s flavor is similar to its smell: bold pine and grapefruit flavors that you’d normally find in beers brewed in the Pacific Northwest region. It has a thick, chewy mouthfeel, with a very rich and long finish. Perhaps this beer was a little too heavy, especially after the first two I sampled, but I can definitely see the appeal. If you want a big and fearless IPA, this one’s right up your alley.
Beyond Comrade Brewing Company’s cheeky theme, beyond the mixed and oft confused Soviet-era propaganda, beyond comparing their beers to the beers of their domestic competitors (maybe I’m reading too much into that interaction), you’ll find a fun way to spend a weekend afternoon, or a warm summer night. Comrade is certainly not afraid to experiment with the hoppier side of beer – the day I was there, the brewery had six or seven beers that could be considered pale ales or stronger. Unfortunately, aside from a coffee stout, there wasn’t much for fans of darker style beer. However, I feel like the brewery’s number of taps, combined with their fearless mixing of ingredients will lead you to a beer or two to spend an afternoon with. За здоровье!
- Address: 7667 E Iliff Ave, Denver, CO 80231
- Phone: (720) 748-0700