Andrew Kaczmarek and Nato Francescato don’t mind doing things differently. The two went into business together in July 2016 as owners of 14er Brewing, creating and canning beer long before they knew if or when they’d be able to open an actual taproom. In October 2016, 14er won a gold medal for Rocky Mountain Saison, a chile-lime beer, before anyone knew the company even existed. Six 14er beers are currently brewed under contract at Crazy Mountain Brewing in Edwards, and now that Kaczmarek and Francescato have signed a lease on a space in River North, they will open the doors on Saturday, July 1, for can and Crowler sales — even though their new brewhouse and taproom won’t be ready until next year.
“Nato and I like to think different, so we thought we’d take a stab at this,” Kaczmarek says. “Craft beer is all about innovation and trying to do things differently.”
14er took possession of 2801 Walnut Street, in a building attached to Stem Ciders, last fall. But permitting delays with the city have meant that Kaczmarek and Francescato are still waiting for permission to begin construction. Although they hope to get the go-ahead sometime in the next sixty days, the build-out probably won’t start until this fall. That means the taproom and brewery won’t open until the very end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.
Although 14er already sells cans and kegs to 100 restaurant, bar and liquor store accounts in the Denver area, Kaczmarek says they are itching to get more 14er beer into more people’s hands directly. “We want to sample people through the six different beers and get them used to the flavor profile that we are all about.”
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So, while 14er isn’t legally allowed to sell draft beer directly to consumers yet, they can give away samples, which they plan to do for customers who buy a branded glass. They can also sell packaged beer (those Crowlers and cans) to take out, so 14er will be open every Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Since this is the first weekend, though, they will adjust the hours to 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, and 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. Customers will be able to sample Mt. Massive IPA, Double Mt. Massive Double IPA, Maroon Bells Guava Ale, Rocky Mountain Saison, Key Lime Cream Ale and Sunshine Peak Coffee IPA in a small space set up for tasting and purchasing beer and glassware.
There are currently nine independent craft breweries and two corporate-owned breweries in the RiNo Arts District, which includes parts of several neighborhoods. They are Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Beryl’s Beer Company, Our Mutual Friend, Epic Brewing, Black Shirt Brewing, Ratio Beerworks, Mockery Brewing, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project (which actually brews at a different location), Zephyr Brewing (which just announced that it is moving out of RiNo next month), Coors-owned Blue Moon and AB-InBev-owned 10 Barrel Brewing.
14er will bring that number to an even dozen. But there are more on the way. Great Divide Brewing operates a taproom and packaging facility in RiNo, with plans to open a new brewery in the future. New Belgium Brewing, Odell Brewing and River North Brewery are also in various stages of opening breweries in the neighborhood.