There are several cities with wonderful botanical gardens, but we believe that the Denver Botanic Garden is one of the best. Between the tropical flowers, rotating art displays, and special events, there is always something interesting to see at the garden. We especially enjoyed the variety of colorful orchids that we saw during our visit there. It is a great way to spend a summer afternoon, walking the flower lined paths and seeing the gardens dedicated to different regions around the world. The Denver Botanic Garden will often create displays on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver to allow shoppers to see some of the wonderful flowers that can be found in the gardens. If you are planning a trip to Denver, we’d definitely recommend that you consider adding the Botanic Gardens to your itinerary.
It is certainly no secret that we enjoy having both different beers as well as wine during our travels. We had heard about a brewery in Denver that was creating beers with fermented grapes and we knew that we had to give them a try. The Liberati Restaurant and Brewery has 15 different Oenobeers, or beers made with as much as 49% of the fermented ingredients coming from grapes. We sampled several of the beers that they offered and each had its own flavor profile. For some, there was no mistaking the wine component of the beer as the grape flavors were very noticeable. There were others where you wouldn’t even know that the beer was brewed with grapes if you hadn’t read the menu. And there was even one beer that tasted exactly like a port wine and, if you didn’t know better, you would never think it was a beer.
The first beer that we tried was called the Sea of Cherries and it was definitely on the fruity side. It was made with Pinot Noir grapes, but the flavor of the cherries certainly were up front. The second beer was a Franciacorta that was bubbly and the champagne-like qualities certainly came through. Next was an Imperial Kolsch and the taste was that of a traditional beer despite having been brewed with Pinot Grigio grapes. Another beer that was more on the traditional side was a Nut Brown beer that was darker beer with a nutty flavor. The final beer that we tried was the Port Oenobeer, which we have already mentioned tasted exactly like a port wine, bold and delicious.
It is certainly an interesting innovation in brewing beers. Even with the grapes, the beers can have just as diverse flavors as any other beer, including IPA’s. Although we only tasted one-third of the beers on their list, we are excited to try them again the next time that we are in Denver. The restaurant itself has a wide variety of Italian food and a wonderful atmosphere, including an outdoor patio area.
We spent the weekend in Denver where we went to the 2nd annual Denver BBQ Festival. With 11 different pit masters, live music, cooking demonstrations, beer and drinks, as well as games for the family, it was definitely a fun time. Entrance is free and you can purchase items that you want or you can purchase a VIP pass that allows you to eat and drink all that you want. We chose to get the VIP pass so that we could try as many different barbeque options as possible. There were pit masters from all over the country including Kansas City, St. Louis, New York, Nashville, Texas, and Colorado.
If you are a fan of barbecued food, this event is certainly for you. With choices that include leg of lamb, ribs, chicken, brisket, pork belly, whole hog, pork chops, and lamb ribs, there are options for every type of food lover. It wasn’t just about the meat, though, as there were side dishes that include baked beans, potato salad, carrot and raisin salad, bloody Mary salad, and, of course, coleslaw. To be clear, although we tasted just about everything that there was, we certainly did not sit down and eat full portions from each of the food stations. Even with just tasting small samples from each of the pit masters, we still had more than enough food to make us full.
We think that beer pairs really well with barbeque, but there were many options available to drink. From mixed drinks made with Jack Daniel’s whiskey and Tito’s vodka to make margaritas, as well as non-alcoholic drinks, no one was going thirsty. It was a hot day, so an ice-cold beer certainly hit the spot and we chose to have a Colorado Lager from Odell’s Brewery. The festival took place in the parking lot of Mile High Stadium and it was certainly a very popular event.
It is hard to choose a favorite with all of the different dishes that we tried, but there was a beef brisket from Pappy’s Smokehouse that was so tender that it fell apart. The leg of lamb from Sugar Fire Smokehouse was also wonderful. The pork belly from Joe’s KC BBQ was one of the first things that we tasted and also one of our favorites. And finally, the ribs from Peg Leg Porker BBQ were definitely worth eating again and again. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t enjoy everything that we tried, including those from Salt Lick BBQ, GQue BBQ, The Shed, Ubon’s BBQ, Memphis BBQ, and Jean-Paul Bougeois.
We will definitely put this on our calendar for next year. There isn’t a better way to spend a summer afternoon than eating delicious barbeque, drinking a beer, listening to music, and getting grilling advice from the experts. The Denver BBQ Festival is certainly an event that is fun for the whole family.