Saturday is Ian Clark's day off. Instead of getting out of the kitchen, however, the Centro Latin Kitchen chef has been using some of his favorite ingredients to brew beer. He was doing it so much, in fact, that he decided to start his own commercial brewery.
Clark is creating a nanobrewery in the garage at his house. Bru, as it is called, now consists of a half-barrel brewing system that will allow him to make about one keg, roughly fifteen gallons, at a time.
By comparison, homebrewers typically make five or ten gallons at a time, while some recent entries into the local taproom scene -- like Denver Beer Co, Renegade and Copper Kettle -- have seven- to fifteen-barrel systems.
"This is a huge passion for me," says Clark, who received the home-brewing kit from his father-in-law. "It's something I was doing anyway, something I love doing."
His first three beers will be an American-style IPA made with fresh lemon zest and juniper berries; a brown ale made with dates and caramelized sugar; and a Belgian-style golden strong ale. "I don't brew them to be paired with specific types of food," he explains, "but I use a lot of food ingredients in them, so my wife started calling them 'chef beers' because I was adding spices and fruits and things like that."
While Bru is Clark's project, he says the people at Centro and at the Big Red F Restaurant Group, which owns Centro, have been "incredibly supportive."
In fact, the IPA, which Clark brewed last weekend, is slated to go on tap at Centro -- and possibly at the Big Red F-owned West End Tavern -- in mid-April. That will be followed by the brown ale, which Clark plans to brew this coming weekend.
The restaurant group has a history of working with local brewers at its restaurants and even has a house beer, a Mexican-style lager called Top Rope, that is made exclusively for Big Red F by Boulder's Upslope Brewing Company. Clark was part of the tasting committee for that beer and learned a lot about the brewing process from Upslope.
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Clark doesn't foresee hosting any tapping parties in his garage; it's his personal abode, after all. But he does plan to bottle some of his beers at home and sell them in limited quantities -- "a few cases here and there," he says -- at local liquor stores.