Breckenridge Brewery will build a twelve-acre, $20 million beer farm in Littleton
An view of the planned campus that shows Santa Fe Drive (bottom left) and the South Platte River (top); for a more detailed view, go to the second page of this story.
Breckenridge Brewery announced today that it will move from Denver to Littleton, building a $20 million farm-like campus on a rural, twelve-acre spot on South Santa Fe Drive and cementing its future as both a Colorado-based brewery and a tourist destination.
The campus, located near the Platte River Greenway, right next to the Reynolds Landing recreation area, will feature a 76,000-square-foot brewery, cellar and warehouse, along with an 8,000 square-foot farmhouse building that will house a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, a tasting room, beer garden, retail store and growler-fill station.
When it is complete, sometime in late 2014 or early 2015, the new brewery will be able to produce 120,000 barrels of beer, nearly twice what it expects to make in its current location on Kalamath Street in 2013. Eventually, the company should be able to brew 400,000 to 500,000 barrels a year, says Breckenridge brewing director Todd Usry.
"I really wanted something that was agricultural and looked like a farm -- that was the dream," says Usry, who searched for locations in Denver and in the suburbs on all sides of town. "We've always been humble as a brewery, so the farm look suits us."
Breckenridge Brewery president Todd Usry.
The 22-year-old company considered building a new facility in another state -- as New Belgium and Oskar Blues have done in North Carolina -- last year when it was unable to change a state law that doesn't allow businesses classified as "brewpubs" (which make both food and beer) to produce more than 60,000 barrels of beer per year.
But the brewery's parent company, Breckenridge-Wynkoop, LLC, got approval from the state Department of Revenue to circumvent that law with a complicated arrangement involving two of its other brewpubs, Wynkoop and the original brewpub in the town of Breckenridge. That allowed the brewery to go ahead with its plans for a new campus.
"I wanted to have our name on something and to have our culture displayed," says Usry, who considered less ambitious expansion plans as well. "But this speaks to who we are."
Continue reading for more information on the beer farm.
Breckenridge is buying the land, currently home to the Silver Sage tree and shrub nursery, from Michael Hommel, who owns Designs by Sundown, a 28-year-old landscape design firm located on seven acres next to the future brewery site - and, coincidentally, Usry's first employer when he moved to Denver in the early 1990s.
"The acquisition was very serendipitous," Usry says. "I can't believe I'm buying land from the first guy I worked for...schlepping rock and driving a tractor."
Breckenridge will close on the land in May, but since Silver Sage's lease doesn't expire until the end of 2013, construction probably won't begin until after that; the new brewery will employ sixty people to start with, and up to 75 down the road.
The brewery itself will be in the red and silver buildings at the bottom, while the restaurant and tasting room will be in the yellow, farm-like building at the top; the boiler room stage is pictured at the top right.
The two-year timeline means that Breckenridge, which has been growing at a rate of 20 to 30 percent a year, won't be able to grow much more for a while or increase its sales, however, Usry says. The brewery made 52,000 gallons of beer in 2012, but doesn't have much more room to grow at its Denver brewery, at 471 Kalamath Street.
"If we can hit 65,000 barrels out of this building, I will be happy," Usry says.
In order to make that much beer, however, Breckenridge will have to use a provision in the state's liquor code known as an "alternating proprietorship," which allows one brewery to loan or rent its equipment and its physical premises to another brewery.
In this case, Breckenridge-Wynkoop will create alternating proprietorships with some of all of its other four brewpubs (it already has an agreement with Wynkoop Brewing) so that together, they can brew more than 60,000-barrel limit.
The arrangement is extremely burdensome, however, since each brewpub has to file its own taxes and maintain its own supply and production chains.
As a result, Breckenridge-Wynkoop may return to the legislature in 2014 to try again to raise the cap on how much beer a brewpub can produce.
The new brewery will also feature:
-A small hops farm adjacent to Santa Fe Drive
-A 100-barrel Steineker brewhouse
-A Krones bottling line capable of spitting out 320 bottles per minute
-A Wild Goose Engineering (of Boulder) canning line
-A 2,000-square-foot barrel-aging cellar
-An outdoor stage at the base of an old boiler room building that used to supply power to greenhouses in the 1960s
-Various energy-efficient systems, including solar tubes and water recycling
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.