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Avery Brewing's growth and possible exit from Boulder could lead to zoning changes

The City of Boulder is considering ways to make it easier for breweries, wineries and distilleries located in industrial parts of the city to open restaurants.

Right now, those businesses are only allowed by the city's zoning code to open a kitchen under certain conditions. For instance, they have to primarily serve the local neighborhood, operate with limited hours, and they can't be located on a busy street.

"Our code is kind of restrictive," says Boulder senior planner Bev Johnson. "These industries are evolving, and tasting rooms are becoming popular destination spots. We wanted to be able to accommodate these changes."

And, she adds, "It's in the best interest of the public for people who are drinking to have some food, too."

The issues was raised by two Boulder breweries that have considered restaurants, Avery Brewing, at 5757 Arapahoe Avenue, and Upslope Brewing, at 1501 Lee Hill Road. Both are located in industrial zones. And while Avery is planning to move to an as-yet unknown location by this time next year, if the brewery stays in Boulder, it will likely remain in a similar industrial zone.

"Adam Avery is at the forefront of getting that pushed through, and it is a fabulous idea," says Upslope co-founder Matt Cutter. "We don't currently have any plans for a restaurant at our tap room, but we would like to have the option. If that ordinance goes through, it will open up doors for us in the future." Upslope has partnerships with a couple of Boulder food trucks that service the tap room.

Avery Brewing serves pizzas in its tap room that are provided by a nearby catering company, but owner Adam Avery believes a restaurant would be "a great way to showcase our beers and set us apart from other breweries."

But he doesn't want to open one where the brewery has been located since it was started in 1993. Instead, he is searching for a five-to-six-acre spot on which to build a new brewery that can handle Avery's rapid growth, along with a restaurant.

Boulder's zoning code is just part of the problem, however. Avery says he's been offered free land and/or tax incentives in surrounding cities like Louisville, Longmont and Broomfield and is considering whether it would make more financial sense to move out of Boulder altogether. That decision could come any time in the next few days to the next few weeks or months. "I wish we were already building it,"Avery says.

Aside from Upslope and Avery, there are three other breweries located in Boulder's industrial zone, but two of them, Boulder Beer Company and Twisted Pine Brewing, are allowed to serve food based on individual zoning variances. Most of Boulder's other brewpubs are in commercial zones.

In addition, there are four wineries and two distilleries located in Boulder's industrial areas, all of which have tasting rooms. And although none of them have expressed an interest in serving food yet, Johnson says the city wants to be prepared.

The planning department will outline the proposal to Boulder's planning board by early September and could bring the issue before the city council by October.

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