Briar Common opens next to Jefferson Park

JEFFERSON PARK — For months the construction of the new Briar Common brewery intrigued me as I drove towards town on 23rd. Slowly but steadily the rooftop deck overlooking Jefferson Park and the brewing rooms became clear. When it opened, my family dined there several times taking in the rich offerings. And since none of us drink, we invited our beer reviewer Kelli Schermerhorn to add her thoughts about their beer.

This retail space has had many uses over the years. I best knew it as a print shop, but then it became a wedding store and has had many other retails uses over the past century. This current use is by far the most architecturally bold reuse of the space. Two brewing rooms can be seen from the dining area. A bar flanks one wall with a gracious bar and comfortable stools. The main room features modern, bright chandeliers above a muted color palette of tans, grays, and black. A stairwell leads up to the upstairs bar and rooftop deck.

The mbriar-common-mushrooms-wenu is very pork heavy, although there are a few vegetarian and non-pork options. It is divided into Snacks, Shared, and Main. My father-in-law is a vegetarian, so he selected The Salad, $ 12, with bibb, brassicas, watermelon, spicy candied peanuts, goat crema, tomato, gaufrettes, and a hibiscus vinaigrette. The salad was both beautiful and filling. The goat crema lined the plate allowing him to load up the watermelon chunks with the richness.

My mother-in-law chose the Chicken + Hash, $ 10,  fried thigh pieces, corn + sweet potato hash, tomato coulis, with green oil. This arrived set out on a long platter in an artful arrangement. While my mother-in-law enjoyed the chicken, she raved about the hash. It had a nice balance of sweet and savory, crispy and fluffy.

My husband ordered The Burger, $ 16, with house ground, Moroccan spiced, bread and butter watermelon, radish, mushroom, catsup, bibb, pork belly, and goat cheese. Wow, this was a rich burger. My husband loved it, but we both found it extremely rich.

Trying to eat more lightly, I tried the Colorado Trout, $ 20, with pork spiked lentils, citrus, and a  brassica salad along with remoulade. The pork spiked I thought would mean lentils stewed in pork broth. Oh no, this was a large serving of shredded pork with tiny lentils. No heart relief in this dish. The trout was nicely seasoned and cooked perfectly. I enjoyed the meal although I was surprised by the amount of pork.

They offered two desserts – a hot, creamy Mexican Chocolate with Churros as well as a Panna Cota. They were both very rich and very delicious.

My husband and I returned alone and sampled a few more of the Snacks. On this visit, we decided upon the Korean Egg, $ 6, pickled egg, pork mandu filling, tempura, and gochujang. This seemed very much like a Scottish Egg but with a more savory, pungent aroma from the gochujang. We also tried the Smoked Portobello Carpaccio, $ 7, drizzled with chile oil, Brassica pesto, and pepitas. I loved this dish. The thin sliced Portobellos held their own in a dish typically made with sliced meat. The pepitas, toasted squash seeds, gave a nice spicy crunch. On this visit, my husband also chose the Smoked Lamb, $ 24, with hickory smoked lamb chops, confit rutabaga, smoked pepper crème Fraiche, mint and nutmeg chutney. Like all of their dishes, this one was generous and flavorful. My husband could only eat a small portion of the meat and enjoyed it the next day as leftovers.

I tried the Harissa Smoked Ribs, $ 15, with soy glaze, furikake, bread and butter watermelon radish. These meaty ribs were very generous. I found the saltiness, however, to overwhelm the other flavors.

On a return visit with our beer writer Kelli, we ate at the bar where we shared the Carnitas Papas Bravas, $ 8, crispy potato, romesco, cilantro, chipotle aioli, with pickles. This shared dish had shredded carnitas piled with architectural flair on top of the crispy potatoes with an overall red hue from the red pepper sauce. We also shared the Pork Belly Platter, $ 16 with a generous pile of Bibb, crispy potato skins, sweet soy, house pickles, jams + sauces. The thick slices of pork belly were to be wrapped in lettuce with jams and potatoes. This was a quite delicious and generous meal made to share.

At long last winter is arriving, so we did not enjoy the rooftop deck. We did appreciate the attentive and knowledgeable service on each outing. The food is flavorful, and my beer expert Kelli remarked that each beer she selected satisfied her. (See her review tomorrow.)

Briar Common
2298 Clay St, Denver, CO 80211

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Briar Common – Seven Barrels for Three Brothers

JEFFERSON PARK — I visited Briar Common this week to sample their beers after getting a preview at this year’s Chef and Brew. The space itself is awesome – a classic brick corner building in Jefferson Park, revamped inside and out. The gleaming 7-barrel brew system is on prominent display and a nice long bar with minimalist tap handles.

I found the beers to be thoughtful and well executed, which is no surprise, as co-owner, Greg Dawson is a cicerone and BJCP judge.  Kent Dawson, also co-owner, and head of ops, rounds up the team with their third brother and co-owner, Travis.

Elisa Cohen wrote about the food, which was top notch.  All I can say is I got to try three different variations of potatoes, which warms my heart … but of course, I am here for the beer!

Briar Common has six beers on tap at present, and of course, I tried them all.

I started with the Joyce Saison, 6.7 ABV, 35 IBU.  This beer had a touch of biscuit malt and a wheat tang, balanced by the fruity esters from the yeast.  It finished with a light smack of citrus.  You could taste the aromatic malts in this beer!

From here, I moved to the Lanham, a Belgian Trappist-style Dubbel. Trappist beers are a cult among themselves.  There are only 11 true Trappist breweries worldwide, so most domestic versions are clones or revamps of classic recipes.   As a home brewer, I find Trappist-style beers a delight to make, and even better to drink.

The Lanham clocks in at 7.5% ABV, and 33 IBU. It started with a light sulfur nose.  This beer was chewy, with flavors of Munich and roasty Vienna malt shining through, balanced by a mild sweetness and a figgy dried fruit flavor.

The Hobart was next, a Belgian IPA, 8.5% ABV, 100+ IBU.  This beer has a super-delicate citrus flavor and a solid bitter backbone.  It was crisp and robust; I loved it and could have easily had a full pour.

The Rochus, an American Porter, was next, at  6% ABV, 40 IBU.  The Rochus has a nice chocolate malt nose and a slight bitter chocolate tang from the malt and the addition of co coa powder.

The Briar, an American Pale Ale, was the beer I chose to accompany my meal.  At 5% ABV and 50 IBU, this beer was balanced a balanced, golden easy drinker, paired nicely with all the dishes that I had the chance to sample.

The Thistle (8.5% ABV, 100+ IBU) was gorgeous.  I am crazy about hops; it’s not a joke in my life.  Many believe West Coast IPA’s ruined beer, but I believe those people are wrong.  A nice bitter base is what I crave in beer, and the Thistle delivered.  The Pils malt in this provided a lovely backdrop for the Galena, Cascade, and Columbus hops.  The body was onthe light side, but that just gave more oomph to the hops.

briar-common-roof-topOverall, Briar Common is 100% worth a visit.  When the weather cooperates, the rooftop patio will be a great place to peep at the Denver skyline.  Driving may not be your best choice because of nearby parking restrictions, but Jefferson Park is an easy jaunt from every North Denver hood by bike or by Uber.

I am especially pumped to come back for Monday BBQ night and to continue to drop in and try their beers as the list changes and evolves through the seasons.

Cheers to Briar Common!

Briar Common
2298 Clay St, Denver, CO 80211

What else is happening?

Thali Beer Dinner    December 13, 7-10 PM
Yak and Yeti Restaurant and Brewpub
7803 Ralston Road Arvada, CO 80002

While just outside North Denver, Yak and Yeti Brewpub is a Denver tradition, paring Nepalese food with tasty beer in an old Victorian house.  Yak and Yeti will host a Thali Beer Dinner on December 13; Tickets are $ 55, and you can expect a five-course pairing of Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan foods paired with beers crafted on site.  Yak and Yeti is a staple and beer, and Indian food go together like peanut butter & jelly.

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