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The Short Version: If you’re in Denver, Colorado, and have a date coming up, then stress no more because we’ve got a great spot that we can’t stop thinking about. Whether it’s your first or 50th date, Wynkoop Brewing Co. is the perfect medley of a relaxing dinner followed by a fun night in the taproom in a lively atmosphere with games galore. Kosta Skordos, General Manager at Wynkoop, tells us how the state’s oldest brewpub is the place to be on any night of the week.
The United States has nearly 10,000 breweries today, a number that has more than doubled in the past decade. This is a huge win if you’re like me and love craft beer; in fact, my Untappd app is full of hazy NEIPAs and crisp ciders because I can’t resist a new spin on some old favorites.
What I especially love about the brewery scene is that many breweries have opened kitchens to introduce food to their once drink-only menus, successfully merging the art of brewing with the culinary arts. So whether you’re hanging with friends or planning a special night out, the brewery experience can cater to pretty much all tastes.
This experience aligns well with the science behind a “perfect date.” According to relationship expert Kyle Boureston, the perfect date should include a meal and an activity. So, although Starbucks holds first place, breweries are climbing the charts for a date night out.
And this is exactly what Wynkoop Brewing Co. in Denver, Colorado, does just right.
Kosta Skordos, General Manager of Wynkoop Brewing Co., explained it best from his perspective. “When I take people on dates, it’s usually a dinner then an activity,” he said. “So it’s cool we’ve combined those two ideas with a great food menu at our restaurant downstairs and a fun energy upstairs.”
As to what’s upstairs? Kosta and his team encourage anyone visiting to head up there and check it out themselves.
What comes to mind when you think of a date? That perfect date formula is no hoax. It’s a careful design that allows you to get to know the other person during the first half of the evening and relax and have fun during the second part.
You may imagine grabbing pizza before a movie, enjoying burgers before minigolf, or having a sit-down dinner at a brewery before going upstairs to enjoy music, drinks, and billiards. If that last one sounded specific, that’s because I’m talking about Wynkoop in Denver.
“It started in 1988 when John Hickenlooper and two other gentlemen started a microbrewery here in town. He never expected this, but John essentially created a neighborhood around this pub — and now, we’ve got the largest pool hall in Denver,” said Kosta.
Wynkoop’s atmosphere is a harmonious combination of rustic mountain taproom meets contemporary restaurant. Complete with fresh quality dishes, rotating craft beers, and arcade games to play upstairs, this brewery is truly one of the best date night spots in Denver.
“The floors have two different kinds of energy. Downstairs is a little more hustle-and-bustle restaurant with something great like classic rock music playing,” Kosta explained. “Upstairs is more of a lively place where we have shuffleboard, foosball, and arcade games. We do this intentionally because many people start with dinner downstairs and come upstairs to play and have fun.”
And when it’s warm outside, feel free to take your food and drink outside on the lower patio, which can fit more than 400 people at a time. It’s a popular spot — but don’t worry, it’s pretty spacious.
Kosta recommends that you start your date night on the main floor: the main taproom-slash-restaurant, where you can sit down at a low-top table with your date and order off a fantastic menu that consists of burgers, entrees, salads, and everything in between.
And once dinner is over, there’s no need to drive to a second location.
“If you’re downstairs to have dinner but have no idea what to do, we always recommend you just go upstairs and take a look,” said Kosta. “We’ve got games like PacMan, Buck Hunter, and shuffleboard, so you’ll find something you’ll enjoy.”
Before you do, be sure to take a careful glance over Wynkoop’s food and drink menus.
Who better to hear food recommendations from than the Wynkoop general manager himself? Kosta told us that Wynkoop has a pretty incredible menu because all the ingredients are fresh and everything is made in-house, including the desserts.
As to what to get for food, Kosta says it depends on how hungry you are. “Our fish and chips is a huge dish, so you can easily split it in two,” he said. “But our salmon is delicious with a couscous base. It’s tart-crusted, and it’s to die for.”
Aside from fish and chips and salmon, the Wynkoop menu is filled with diverse high-quality fare — chicken and waffles, macaroni and cheese, large salads, and even tacos. Wynkoop has plenty of handhelds as well. Choose from burgers and sandwiches with coleslaw or fries, whether you’re getting a po’boy, a bison burger, or a pulled pork sandwich.
“We’ve got a veggie burger, too, in case anybody’s a vegetarian,” Kosta said. “We want to be able to take care of them as well — and it’s really good.”
As for desserts, you can choose from a peanut butter mousse pie, key lime tart, or raspberry cheesecake, all of which come with a healthy dose of whipped cream.
You might have a hard decision to make if you’re looking for beer recommendations. Kosta said Wynkoop’s two most popular beers are complete opposites.
“One is our red ale, the Rail Yard Ale. It’s a darker beer, so some people hate it, but most people love it. I know it sounds crazy,” Kosta laughed. “Our Denver Lotus IPA is also really popular. It’s a hazy IPA and flies off the shelf.”
But sometimes, you’re in the mood for something a little sweet.
“My favorite cocktail is called The Beach Club. It’s super refreshing — the kind you’d want while sitting on the beach,” Kosta said. “But our most popular cocktail is the Cool As A Cucumber, which is delicious for a sunny day on the patio.”
Kosta promised that The Beach Club will make you feel like you’re on vacation somewhere tropical. It has coconut water rum, passion fruit, triple sec, fresh lime, spiced bitters, and firewater. As for Cool As A Cucumber, this light and refreshing drink is based on cucumber, simple syrup, basil, lime, and a splash of Hendrick’s Gin.
If you’re leaning in a different direction, you can also choose from Wynkoop’s wine menu, complete with red wine, white wine, prosecco, and rosé, all purchasable as a glass or a bottle.
Wynkoop has a lot on the horizon, so even if you don’t have a date planned until autumn, you’ll get to prepare for some fun upcoming events and rotating drinks.
Wynkoop rotates its beers every season, so pumpkin and ginger lovers can finally rejoice. But perhaps what’s even more exciting is, come October 2023, the brewery will begin hosting brewery tours.
“You’ll get to tour through our entire brew house, starting from where we start the barrels and the fermentation process,” said Kosta. “You’ll be able to try yours off the top. It will be a cool process, and you’ll get a glass to go with you.”
This is just one aspect to showcase Wynkoop’s longevity within the Denver community. Wynkoop’s 35th anniversary is coming up — and, of course, a place like this won’t let that date go by unnoticed.
“Details are limited right now, but keep an eye on our social media. We’ll be blasting out some specific prizes and things that we don’t normally do,” Kosta promised.
I don’t know about you, but touring Colorado’s first brewpub or attending its anniversary party sound like great dates. So, the next time you find yourself looking to impress a date in the Denver area, Wynkoop Brewing Co. should be at the very top of your list.