Although Blue Moon beer was born in a basement bar at Coors Field in 1995, the brand has never really had a place to call home until 2016 when it opened 30,000-square-foot brewery and taproom in Denver’s River North District, a part of the Five Points neighborhood once frequented by Jack Kerouac that locals now call RiNo.
Today RiNo has shed its gritty façade, and become a mecca for Denver’s creatives: artists, musicians and craft breweries.
And although its Denver taproom was originally conceived as a branding and experimental hub only, with nation sales rising Blue Moon has expanded its game and producing flagship beers for the whole country as well.
As Blue Moon’s Denver brewmaster John Legnard explained, it was a natural and necessary evolution…
“When we opened RiNo, we were working on research and new product development and focused on making the best beers for our own taproom…Today, we’re still doing all those things — plus sending beer all over the place.”
The seasoned brewers at Blue Moon’s RiNo taproom now produce about 100 different beers a year, including national mainstays Belgian White, LightSky, Mango Wheat and the award-winning Moon Haze IPA. “In 2022, the brewery made 128 different beers combining to sell nearly 3,000 barrels a year,” according to Beer & Beyond.
Denver isn’t Blue Moon’s only physical outpost. It has taprooms in Norfolk, Va., Las Vegas and in Panama City, But it’s in RiNo where the brewery has really set down roots, drawing in neighbors, tourists and craft beer fans to experience Blue Moon and in person.
“I think what sets us apart is the authenticity,” says Emilie Stewart Maskwa, a senior brewer who has been brewing for Molson Coors since 2009 and at the RiNo taproom since its inception. “It’s critical to understanding the brand. We’re giving the public a chance to see Blue Moon in person and see what the culture is like here.
Visitors (about 150,000 of them a year) entering the beautifully converted Denver warehouse are greeted by a massive blue orb – an artist’s rendering of a moon – hung above the bar’s 24 active taps with a full view of the brewhouse, where five full-time brewers flex their creative muscles, churning out classics and innovations like Lemondrop Pilsner, and Mexican Chocolate Ale.
Located less than 2 miles from the ballpark where it was founded this bright, airy and spacious taproom is one for the ages and we’ve got to admit Blue Moon did it right.
It’s the only one in Blue Moon’s hometown, and its visually striking.
“People come here expecting one thing, and we kind of blow them away,” Legnard added. “This might be somebody’s only visit to us. We need to make sure we make a good first impression.”
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(All image credits: Blue Moon)