Big Beer and BBQ are King at Spruce Tap House

Non-denominational BBQ

From the guys that brought you the delicious home cooking of Highland Tavern comes a BBQ joint and tap house that will broaden your expectations of both. On a block that straddles the border between the Ballpark and River North neighborhoods is Spruce Tap House.

Owner, Nick Hixon, and his partners wanted to create a neighborhood bar that specializes in smoked meats, which they do in house in a large walk-in cooler. Then they take the best portions of BBQ from all over the country, what Hixon calls “non-denominational BBQ,” and puts them together into something quintessentially Coloradoan. They only use Colorado-raised meats, and all the food is made from scratch. Then, they do something that’s not Colorado at all. The bar serves the best beers from…everywhere else?

“We want to have different beers from what your can get around town,” says Hixon.

The bar has 20 taps, and all of them will rotate. While they do pour some tasty Colorado craft (Spruce shares a building with River North Brewery and Epic, Black Shirt, Jagged Mountain and Great Divide all are within walking distance), Hixon says their goal is to feature new, unusual and rare beers from all over the world.

Case in point, the bar has just tapped a keg of St. Bernardus Abt 12, a Belgian quadrupel that is considered one of the best in the world, rated 99 out of 100 on Beer Advocate. Also on tap at this time is Molotov Lite by Evil Twin Brewing in Denmark and Piercing Pils by Dogfish Head in Delaware. However, a visit next week might bring about completely different beers. Happily, Colorado is not ignored. Neighbors Epic and River North are on tap, as well as Eddy Line, Ska and Elevation from around the state. Bottles and cans are where Oskar Blues, Dry Dock and Coors rule. There's even Ol’ Stumpy by Colorado Cider for the gluten free.

The only food hardy enough to match all these big beers is BBQ, which Spruce does very well. The house-cured Cowboy Bacon could be considered a delicacy, and you can have it on the Cowboy BLT or add some to any sandwich for $2 (it's also in the Baked Beans). The Bison Ribs come with a Smoked Habanero Peach Glaze, and the incredibly tender Pork Shoulder comes in quarter pound, half pound and full pound servings. There are four sauces to choose from, Bourbon BBQ, Alabama White, Spicy Mustard and Verde (Green Chili).

Still not full? Top off the evening with a Spicy Pickle Shot, an elixir of vodka with the juice of both sweet and dill pickles (also made on site) with just a touch of Habanero and properly aged in a glass jug on the bar.

Happy Hour at Spruce is daily from 3 to 7 PM featuring $2 PBRs, $2.50 Coors, Bud and Miller beers, $3 well drinks, $4 house wines by the glass and $5 Spring 44 Colorado Vodka Moscow Mules and PB&Js. There is also a Late Happy Hour from 10 PM to Midnight. Wednesday nights feature free poker tournaments. Be sure to ask your server about the daily special, too. On this particular day, it was Mac and Cheese Balls, made with house smoked cheddar and Muenster cheese fried up into tasty, giant nuggets served with a spicy dipping sauce. The bar also has an extensive collection of whiskeys and a variety of crafted cocktails.

Spruce Tap House, 2401 Blake St.; 303-297-2727

Photos by Carrie Dow


Tags: Beer, Food, Spirits, Whiskey
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