Denver’s craft beer scene was dealt a devastating blow over the weekend when Falling Rock Tap House, a pioneer in serving and supporting American microbreweries, announced it would close soon.
Brothers Chris, Al and Steve Black opened the bar in 1997 and with more than 90 taps and a cellar full of rare and specialty bottles, it has been a destination for seasoned beer drinkers and novice craftspeople for more than two decades. It was also known as a post-Great American Beer Festival port of call, where craft enthusiasts could find special releases and like-minded drinkers. The party ends on June 27th.
Chris Black attributes the shutdown in part to developments in the craft brewing and bar industry over Falling Rock’s 24-year life. There weren’t always rooms where small breweries could sell experimental or limited-edition recipes. Falling Rock was designed as a place where these operations could showcase something unique and get feedback from the public, Black said.
But since breweries can open taprooms and sell them directly to the public, many of these beers never leave the breweries. And that puts water holes like Falling Rock at risk.
“Things have changed so much that some breweries have given up on the idea of having a taproom where you can taste beer and learn about the brewery and the people who made your beer. they’re full of retail stores, ”said Black. “Brewers saw the retail dollar I love cracking and decided to keep special editions to themselves.”
Combine that trend with a year-long construction project that caused a 30% drop in sales, changes in the neighborhood that had a negative impact on the business, difficulty finding kitchen staff, and costs rising rapidly, and Black said the business was financially viable is no longer portable.
Fans lamented the loss on social media, calling the end of an era for falling rock, and sharing fond memories. Todd Bellmyer, brewer at neighboring Wynkoop Brewing Co., said there will be “a hole in the heart of the Denver craft beer industry” once the bar closes. Charles McManus, chief brewer at Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., agreed.
“Not only did Falling Rock help Denver become a beer town, but the unparalleled camaraderie of the Denver brewing scene owes much to Chris Black,” McManus said in a statement. “Drafting your beer on tap at Falling Rock was a badge of honor, and having a pint with Chris was like shaking hands with Sinatra.”
What’s next, said Black, a 38-year veteran of the beer bar business, said he hopes to hold on in some capacity. But first, a five-day toast to the craft beer institution.
Drinkers are invited to help clear the barrels and the cellar from Wednesday through Sunday. From t-shirts to beer tap handles to signs on the walls, everything will be for sale, as will the rest in the beer cellar.
The party runs from Wednesday to Friday from 5pm to 10pm, on Saturday from 12pm to 10pm and on Sunday at noon until a time to be determined. The Taphouse is located at 1919 Blake St.
Subscribe to our Stuffed food newsletter to get Denver food and drink updates delivered to your inbox.