Denver's River North (RiNo) neighborhood has become the go-to for hipsters, tastemakers, and creatives in the past year. Once an industrial no-man's land north of downtown, RiNo has an increasingly high concentration of artists, galleries, and design businesses setting up shop in old factories. It's also the best place to have a local-made tipple. In November, the neighborhood added a winery to the hood that already has its own distillery and brewery. If you have an afternoon free in Denver, go see all three.
Following the "beer before liquor, never sicker" rule, we saved the brewery for last and started at Mile High Spirits, a spirit maker that has a number of infused liquors as well. Off the bat, owner Wyn Ferrell, a 20-something Wall Street ex-pat, poured us a shot of the distillery's latest experimental infusion, bacon vodka. Mile High has five flavor infusions available at all times along with their standard spirits: a corn-wheat mix vodka, a dry gin, a white rum, and a four-year aged bourbon.
Next, we walked three blocks north to Infinite Monkey Theorem, a refurbished 30,000-square-foot warehouse located on an otherwise derelict street corner. Owner Ben Parsons, a London native, aims to make the best wine in Colorado, minus the pretension. To this end, he serves his wine on tap and even in cans. His red blend, 100th Monkey, received the highest rating of any Colorado winery by 'Wine Spectator,' but this place still keeps it real: Parsons opened the bottle for us with a pair of needle-nosed pliers because he didn't have a corkscrew handy.
We finished at River North Brewery, located six blocks south. Owner Matt Hess, a former engineer, brews mostly Belgian-style ales. His sparse, industrial taproom was serving up eight ales that day, including a quadruple called Quandary – a burly dark ale with an ABV strength of nearly 10 percent. After sampling all eight, we were tapped out.