Drinking with your best friend is strickly prohibited in the Mile High City thanks to Denver's belief that beer counts as food.
When you go out for a beer, it's only natural that you'd want to bring a best friend along.
But what if your best friend is a hairy-little-yappy thing with four legs and a penchant for public urination?
That's where things can get tricky. In most places in Colorado, you can bring your dog to the bar or brewery as long as your dog's not an asshole. That way, it can sit and stare at you with unconditional love while you make your way through a pint of craft porter.
But in Denver? Not so much. In Denver, dogs are no more allowed in breweries than they are in operating rooms, and the city is currently in the process of making this crystal clear.
City inspectors in the state capitol have begun to crack down on dogs in breweries, and have been issuing regular inspections to see if anyone's trying to impress their golden retrievers with how much amber ale they can put down. All over the city, dogs and their owners are being ejected from these breweries, and the breweries themselves are facing costly health code violations for allowing canine critters onto their property.
This week, an incident at Denver's Prost Brewing Company highlighted the confusion many Denverites have over where they can and can not bring their dogs. City inspectors apparently barged in on everyone's good time and booted the doggies, saying the brewery was in violation of a city law stating dogs cannot be in an establishment that serves food.
We know what you're thinking: But breweries don't always serve food!
That's right, they don't! Thing is, Colorado's health department defines "food" as "anything made for human consumption." Beer is definitely not not made for human consumption, so lo and behold, no dogs allowed in breweries because people put beer in their bodies there.
"They told us we can't have dogs inside at all, and if we're going to have them on the patio, then we can't serve out there," Prost co-owner Troy Johnston told the Denver Post. "We've been doing it for three-and-a-half years, and then all of a sudden, somebody comes through the door and now it's wrong."
Johnston said he and other brewery owners plan to "investigate and challenge" the violations with the Colorado Brewers Guild.
He might have a hard time though, seeing as Denver maintains its own unique city health code, which is a bit stricter than what state rules lay out. The code specifies that "live animals shall be excluded from within the retail food establishment, including all interior and exterior dining areas," with the exception of patios when the proper criteria are met. That means in pretty much every other city in Colorado, you can totally drag your dog along to the bar where it can watch you pound artisanal IPAs, but if you're in Denver, you'll have to spare your dog that riveting entertainment.
Of course, the average Joe and his poodle Mr. Barkely may not be aware of these codes. So, it's up to breweries to let their customers know.
"We're telling our customers about it, but our plan is to not sit idle on this one. We have a lot of folks who come into Prost because they can bring their dogs," Johnston said. "We even provide treats and water for them. It's always been that way."
Denver's anti-dog brewery legislation comes on the heels of Colorado's crackdown and subsequent criminalization of fake service dogs. Our little state was, in fact, the first state ever to make having a fake service animal a crime. Isn't that nice? Add to that Denver's notoriously strict anti-pitbull regulation, and you've got a city who's about as unfriendly to dogs as it is to invading space aliens with weaponized laser eyes.
There's got to be some kind of balance though, doesn't there? We get that brewery dogs, fake service animals and really dickish pitbulls can be a hassle and even a health concern, but there also has to be safe spaces for dogs and their owners in this city. Thankfully, there are a few dog-themed bars like The Watering Bowl that somehow skirt the line of Denver's health code while continuing to serve alcohol and food; so if you need a safe haven for both your alcoholism and your pup while Colorado legislators crack down on canines, you can hide out there.
Photo cred: dispatchesfromthepotomac.com