What makes a great brewery is more than delicious beer. A fun ambiance that brings people together and keeps them coming back for more is just as critical. Ratio Beerworks delivers on both these fronts–their beer takes classic brews and gives them a novel twist that keeps patrons interested and satisfied, while the spacious converted warehouse and large patio where drinkers can post up for hours creates an inclusive and relaxed atmosphere.
However, as wonderful as the beer and the atmosphere at Ratio are, those factors are not why they made OUT FRONT’s “Best of Denver” list. Over the last few years, this brewery has proven itself as more than a watering hole, but rather as a community space with a staff dedicated to helping marginalized groups. Specifically, they have made a commitment to support the LGBTQ community with two annual Punk Rock Drag Shows that raise money for One Colorado as well as periodic happy hours to support other LGBTQ groups.
The first drag show was held in 2016 shortly after the election of Trump to the White House.
“[After the presidential election], it felt as though minority groups were facing heightened levels of prejudice and marginalization. The Ratio team wanted to do something that would help the organizations doing the most for LGBTQ rights, as well as let the queer community know that they are always welcome at Ratio,” Sydney Skilken, the marketing operations and events manager at Ratio, explained.
The punk rock theme for the drag shows is a shout out to the past lives of owners Zach Lowery Scott Kaplan and Jason ZumBrunnen, who met when they were playing in bands in the punk rock scene. The shows, one of which occurs around Christmas and the other in the summer, were hosted by Vivica Galactica, beloved local queen, until she moved to New York.
The host also helps to pick queens who will perform on a makeshift stage that has been set up in the brewing area,which can be seen through two double, glass doors just to the right of the bar. This past summer, though, a raised platform stage for the drag show was set up in the outdoor patio space which was added to Ratio this past year.
The shows themselves are must-attend events. Krissy Held, the taproom general manager, described the overall vibe of the shows.
“The Queens select punk rock songs and create unique characters to match. There is always a comedy element in between [the sets], which keeps it fun and lighthearted.”
This fun vibe brings people in and keeps them coming back.
“I am always blown away by how talented they are, Held continued. “I could never walk in heels like that! It stands to be one of the most successful events we host at Ratio.”
The drag shows that Ratio hosts are a direct continuation of this brewery’s commitment to standing for more than just great beer. The staff here actively take a stand for civic engagement, go out of their way to support each other, and are always trying to be better, both in the product they produce and in their role as a community meeting place.
Skilken backs this up. “As cheesy as it might sound, a brand, company, and team that champions community, music, and the arts is inspiring and exciting,” he said. “Even on less-than-desirable days, I remember that I get to work with a bunch of rad people who are trying to make a positive impact on the community.” Ratio is proof that a supportive company culture can lead an organization to accomplish much more than the baseline.
Located in the trendy River North Art District, or RiNo for short, the brewery is positioned perfectly to attract a young, hip and happening crowd. The show starts around 7 p.m., and usually at the beginning of the night, the space is full but not crowded.
A large, indoor area with an industrial vibe, lofted ceilings, and plenty of low and high-top seating creates a spacious feeling that is rooted in reality–finding somewhere to post up is never a problem at Ratio. This is especially true since the patio space was added, where tons more seating is available in the form of rows of picnic tables, and even with all the tables, there is also still space to play a game of corn hole.
Nights are populated with locals and tourists, first time visitors and people who make a habit out of grabbing a beer at Ratio. The crowd is diverse, and although this watering-hole has no LGBTQ affiliation on a typical night, plenty of queer folks show up for these events.
There are several other draws that bring people to Ratio as well. The outdoor patio space is a big draw on warmer nights. Dogs are even allowed at Ratio, and grub is easy to access with food trucks parked outside and a Shake Shack across the street. Of course, people also come for the delicious beers, all of which are named after songs to keep with the brewery’s musical theme.
The Domestica, which is an American standard lager, and Stay Gold, an Oktoberfest marzen larger, are two amazing options. The IPAs are also extremely popular. Some of their biggest IPA selections are called Rented World, Antidote, and Continuous Thunder.
At the end of the day, though, the best type of beer is a matter of opinion, while the quality is not. Ratio Beerworks bring quality to a large selection of beers, meaning everyone can find a brew they love here. Their great atmosphere and fun events just sweeten the deal.
Check out the next Punk Rock Drag Show, happening December 8 p.m. See you there!
Photos by Sarah Gorvin