Rocky Mountain Brewing News October/November 2015 : Page 1
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2015 VOL.13/NO.5 Chris Phelps, co-owner of St. Patrick's Brewing in his Littleton brewhouse. James and Sarah Howat create quality in not only their beer but also with customers. "Excellence for us is average," says James. P HOTO BY D AN O LDS Story and photos by Scott Grossman As any beer drinker living in the suburbs has happily noticed, the last few years have seen an explosion in the number of new breweries starting up outside Denver city center. From Broomfield to Aurora, dozens of breweries have opened in the past couple of years, building a sense of com-munity, while also providing quality craft beer to quench the thirst of suburbanites. As of mid-2015 there were over 53 craft breweries in the Denver suburbs, a figure that represents over half of the breweries in the metro area. In addition, almost 60% of the breweries-in-planning in the greater Denver area are look-ing to the suburbs. S By Dan Olds outh of downtown Denver is a stretch of street known as South Broadway. The busy stretch is packed full of antique shops, clothing stores, used bookstores, ethnic restaurants, and live music venues. Also along South Broadway are several craft breweries. One in particular is Former Future Brewing Co. , a brewery that puts an interpretation to classic craft beer styles in a city where breweries are seem-ingly appearing everywhere. Using his studies of microbiology at Colorado State University and fascination of home brewing, James Howat turned his dreams into reality. Along with his wife Sarah, he opened Former Future in February 2014. James heads brewery operations while Sarah handles market-ing. The concept behind Former Future is to use former beer styles while adding modern ideas to creating delicious beer. Many styles existed pre-prohibition adding to the unique feel of the brew-ery. “We put futuristic interpretations on historical styles,” explains James. A Repurposed Speakeasy Benefits Aplenty Housed in a building that was once a marijuana dispensary, James and Sarah combine an old and new feel in the brewery. The white brick building is tucked among a bustling part of Broadway, but is well known among the world of craft beer enthusiasts and neighborhood beer lovers. See Future p.3 Comrade Brewing, nestled in an auto mall strip mall on the edge of Denver. See Burbs p.2 Colorado What’s behind the popularity of the suburban locations? According to local brewers and drinkers, the reasons are very similar to why people choose to live in the suburbs – comfort, con-INSIDE Homebrewing ...............................4 Craft Beer Directory ................ 8-10 Calendar of Events ....................15 State by State News Idaho...............6 Wyoming.........7 Utah...............11 Montana..........11 Denver..............................12 Central Peaks..................13 Front Range.....................14 Western Slope.................15 Four Corners...................15
Brews In The Burbs
The PERKS and CHALLENGES
As any beer drinker living in the suburbs has happily noticed, the last few years have seen an explosion in the number of new breweries starting up outside Denver city center. From Broomfield to Aurora, dozens of breweries have opened in the past couple of years, building a sense of community, while also providing quality craft beer to quench the thirst of suburbanites. As of mid-2015 there were over 53 craft breweries in the Denver suburbs, a figure that represents over half of the breweries in the metro area. In addition, almost 60% of the breweries-in-planning in the greater Denver area are looking to the suburbs.
What’s behind the popularity of the suburban locations? According to local brewers and drinkers, the reasons are very similar to why people choose to live in the suburbs – comfort, convenience, space, and price. Like housing, finding a brewery space is a very personal choice based on interests and priorities, but also shaped by economic realities.
Some breweries find comfort and personal connections in a suburban home, with a supportive and familiar community. Others locate outside of central Denver because of a desire for more space, or possibly a tradeoff between cost and functionality.
According to David Lin, Chairman of Comrade Brewing Company, locating further out let him find a larger taproom and production area and purchase more expensive, American-made equipment than he could have if he paid central Denver rent.
For St. Patrick’s Brewing Company, the reason for choosing a suburban location was the community connection. St. Patrick’s got its start in co-owner Chris Phelps’ Centennial garage, moved to a small industrial space in Englewood, and finally to its current location on the Platte River near downtown Littleton. Both of St. Patrick’s owners come from Littleton and as Phelps says, “It’s kind of our neck of the woods. I’m a suburban kid. We’re comfortable down here.”
St. Patrick’s aims to fit into the community by defining themselves as a brewery with a tasting room and not a bar; thus, they’re not keeping “bar hours.” They also try to engage with the local community by welcoming families and being dog-friendly. Phelps noted, “You live in the suburbs and you see the demand.”
As far as selecting the specific property, the owners did what many homeowners do and “just went by the feel of it,” according to Phelps. Like many suburban residences, St. Patrick’s has a sizable lawn, plenty of outdoor games to keep the kids (and adults) entertained, and lots of comfy seating and shaded spots for relaxation and conversation.
As mentioned above, a struggle any recent homebuyer or renter can connect with is the difficulty of finding space that meets your needs at an affordable price. Comrade Brewing Company, located in the southeast metro area, found the lack of reasonably-priced, brewery-usable space to be a challenge. David Lin was looking for a space that could fit large-scale brewing equipment without making structural modifications and could house a good-sized taproom. Significant space for expansion was also high on his priority list.
Lin spent three months looking at 36 properties from Highlands Range to Arvada before selecting the former auto body shop near Iliff and Quebec, in unincorporated Arapahoe County. In addition to making it easier to outfit a brewery with the right equipment, suburban locations also allow easier access for trucks delivering grain and other ingredients, removing spent grain, and loading up finished products.
Preparing to Thrive
Space to grow is very important and many suburban spaces are less restricted than city locations. After being open just over a year, Comrade has already brought in additional tanks and equipment and has four more tanks on order. Lin said that every brewery grows and expansion space becomes critical. As an example, he cited Dry Dock Brewing Co., which started in a tiny space in the back of the Brew Hut and gradually took over much of that strip mall before opening an additional facility in north Aurora. Similarly, when Breckenridge Brewery needed to expand from its Santa Fe location it found the sizable space it needed in suburban Littleton, and within the last year, both Renegade Brewing Company and Avery Brewing have moved into larger facilities.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
As a customer, visiting a craft brewery that’s nearby your home is an easy decision. Suburban tasting rooms let residents enjoy innovative craft beers, hang out with friends and neighbors, and avoid the hassle of traffic and parking downtown - or in some cases avoid driving at all. Customers are more likely to find a laid-back atmosphere, more room to spread out, and unique outdoor spaces as well. For example, St. Patrick’s and Wonderland Brewing Company each feature large indoor areas with ping pong and spacious outdoor seating areas with amenities like fire pits and bar versions of cornhole and Jenga.
Finding the right space in the suburbs is no easy task. Just like home-seekers, brewers face tight competition for desirable spaces. St. Patrick’s opened their latest location in March of 2015 and Phelps said that they almost leased several spaces, only to have another business beat them to it by days or even hours.
Lin had a less competitive real estate environment when he planned Comrade’s April 2014 opening and felt that in a suburban location, the landlord was more willing to provide incentives to move in. Conditions have since changed, and he would not find the same advantages today, as commercial real estate site loop.net reports that rental rates have increased over 20% while available properties fell by a third since 2013.
The Dreaded Red Tape
In some cases brewers found an ideal space in the suburbs but encountered additional challenges that they would not have had in Denver. That’s because until recently, many suburbs simply didn’t know what to do with a brewery, from licensing to zoning to health codes. Cities regulated restaurants, bars, manufacturing facilities and even pot shops, but craft breweries did not fit cleanly into any category.
At St. Patrick’s first location in Centennial, Phelps had to help the city create their brewery laws. Arapahoe County required Comrade to add extra safety features applicable to grain mills because the county was unfamiliar with how breweries use grain (hint: there’s no onsite milling involved). The Brew on Broadway in Englewood and Kokopelli Beer Company in Westminster faced similar challenges getting their cities to understand their business model prior to opening.
Thanks to those early pioneers, many suburbs developed an understanding of the brewery business and now recognize the contributions breweries make to both the community and the tax base. Within the past few years, cities like Littleton and Aurora have updated their laws and even specifically targeted the brewing community for business development, making it more attractive for breweries to locate - or relocate - in the suburbs.
Phelps explains that breweries in close proximity can actually help each other by drawing more beer lovers to the area, in addition to fueling competition. Breckenridge Brewing recently opened a 76,000 square foot facility 1.6 miles from St. Patrick’s and according to Phelps, “Breck is a benefit and a challenge – they’re a destination brewery.”
What does the future look like for craft breweries located outside of the city? Overall, suburbanites should find even more opportunities to try craft beer in the coming year with 45 more suburban breweries in the planning stages as of August. A quick look at a brewery map also shows that there are many “holes” in the metro area for ambitious entrepreneurs to fill that will allow thirsty suburbanites to get their craft beer fix in their very own neighborhoods.
Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Brews+In+The+Burbs/2294423/276052/article.html.
Brining The Former To The Future
South of downtown Denver is a stretch of street known as South Broadway. The busy stretch is packed full of antique shops, clothing stores, used bookstores, ethnic restaurants, and live music venues. Also along South Broadway are several craft breweries. One in particular is Former Future Brewing Co., a brewery that puts an interpretation to classic craft beer styles in a city where breweries are seemingly appearing everywhere.
Using his studies of microbiology at Colorado State University and fascination of home brewing, James Howat turned his dreams into reality. Along with his wife Sarah, he opened Former Future in February 2014. James heads brewery operations while Sarah handles marketing. The concept behind Former Future is to use former beer styles while adding modern ideas to creating delicious beer. Many styles existed pre-prohibition adding to the unique feel of the brewery. “We put futuristic interpretations on historical styles,” explains James.
A Repurposed Speakeasy
Housed in a building that was once a marijuana dispensary, James and Sarah combine an old and new feel in the brewery. The white brick building is tucked among a bustling part of Broadway, but is well known among the world of craft beer enthusiasts and neighborhood beer lovers.
The brewery is dimly lit by hanging lights made from barrel rings. Runaway cones hang above a bar that is made from the wing of an old Cessna. The tables are constructed from the ceiling joints of an old Denver factory. James and Sara bring the “former into the future” by bringing a classic style to the brewery. One might be reminded of the atmosphere of a 1920s speakeasy. They repurposed this idea of fun, mystery, and surprise when creating their taproom.
Customer service is a strong belief for both James and Sarah. “Excellence for us is average,” says James when describing their friendliness and brewing operations. They run Former Future with a strong belief in beer quality. When brewing new recipes, they are careful and take their time to ensure their beer is up to the quality that their customers expect. This brings back a large crowd most weeknights to indulge in new and popular styles.
Their customers are as high on their priority list as their beer quality is. “Being personal with people is important to us,” says Sarah. They share emails and phone numbers with people to create the neighborhood atmosphere that breweries had preprohibition. Many nights of the week James and Sarah will be working at the bar pouring beer and sharing stories. When the couple is not working, they are often walking around the tap house visiting with patrons.
Former Styles with New Ideas
The belief in beer quality pours straight to the glass from the taps in their unique taproom. With the help of fellow brewer Mitch Ermatinger, the tap list is constantly changing to give drinkers new experiences.
Countinghouse is a light and refreshing preprohibition cream style ale that is reminiscent of the popular beer style brewed in the pre-prohibition era. Its cream color and light refreshing taste is popular among all beer drinkers.
Second Story is a reinvented amber ale. Craft beer drinkers who enjoy Breckenridge Brewery’s Avalanche or New Belgium’s Fat Tire will surely be delighted by this refreshing beer. What makes this beer unique is the strong caramel biscuit taste that graciously pleasures taste buds.
One of their most popular beers is the salted caramel porter. Often served standard or on nitro, this robust porter is given a sweet taste from the addition of lactose combined with salty characteristics from the addition of sea salt. James took an 1800s porter recipe, and with the addition of sea salt, gave it the modern characterization.
Former Future beer can be found at many restaurants and bars around the Denver area. The best place to drink them, however, is at the South Broadway tap house where the tap list is always changing. Weeknights are often standing room only.
There’s Always Something Unique Happening
Along with great beer, patrons come to Former Future for the unique events they host with other local businesses. October brings a beer and popsicle pairing with Aiko Pops (a local shop in Denver that serves gourmet ice pops and popsicles). They also host empanada and beer pairings with a local empanada shop. Along with appearances at beer festivals, Former Future is making a name for themselves as the friendly neighborhood brewery.
James is creating a beer program called Mixt. Unlike the recent way of kettle souring, he is using the traditional way of souring to create a series of mixed culture sour beers that will be an on-tap series at the brewery. Since all beers were fermented this way until 160 years ago, this upcoming line of beer is another example of the former meets future theme.
A Second Brewery? Why Yes!
Back in 2013, before opening Former Future, James and Sarah were fermenting beer using wild yeast. They used the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter to promote their beer and had a membership program with hopes of opening their own brewery. When their plan wasn’t as successful as they hoped, they put it on hold until the opening of Former Future.
Fast forward to 2015. Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales is bringing craft beer enthusiasts in crowds to wait in line for limited bottle releases. Still run by James and Sarah, it operates under a different entity but uses the same brewery space as Former Future. Brewing entirely using spontaneous fermentation, the beer is fermented by wild yeast that blows down from the Rocky Mountains. This method of open air fermentation adds to the popularity of ales that are often a surprise until the first sip. In 2014 Black Project won bronze at the Great American Beer Festival for Flyby in the Experimental Beer category. This set the bar high, but they leaped it and gained more popularity and demand that sometimes makes bottle releases hard to come by.
August saw the release of Dreamland, a wild yeast sour golden ale that created lines stretching down Broadway early on a Sunday morning. Plans are to continue monthly bottle releases as they continue to expand and gain popularity. Unfortunately for enthusiasts that live outside the Denver area, bottles are only released at the brewery on specific dates. They create a fair ticketing system that allows patrons to obtain bottles as long as they are waiting in line by a certain time.
Top Secret Information
The name Black Project is the name of a highly classified defense project in the military. Examples of aircrafts that have come from the United States Black Project include the F-117 Nighthawk and the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales uses a picture of a black paper airplane among a white background to symbolize the secrecy of the military and the brewing side of the term “black project.” Often the public doesn’t know about a bottle release until close to the release date. This secrecy adds to the uniqueness of every bottle produced.
Planning for More
James set a goal to produce near 100 cases a month for Black Project by this time next year. In order to meet this goal, they recently added six 15-barrel fermentation and aging vessels. What was once a dream has become an obsession for craft beer drinkers and the friendly neighborhood brewers. James and Sarah have made an impact in the craft beer industry because of their amazing beer, friendly smiles, and dedication to producing excellent styles and personal relationships.
Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Brining+The+Former+To+The+Future/2294546/276052/article.html.