Dry Dock Brewing, the 2009 Small Brewer of the Year and a darling of the Colorado craft beer scene, will open a huge second brewery in north Aurora later this year. The company will also begin canning four of its most popular beers with a packaging system is has ordered from Wild Goose Engineering in Boulder.
The 30,000-square-foot former distribution warehouse at 2801 Tower Road is on six acres off I-70, just south of Green Valley Ranch and the proposed 85-acre Gaylord Entertainment hotel and conference center project near Tower and 64th Avenue.
When it is operational -- probably in November -- the facility will be capable of brewing 12,000 barrels right off the bat, or about 430 percent more than what Dry Dock makes at its current location; the brewery cranked out 2,800 barrels of beer in 2011.
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"It's a big one," says Dry Dock founder and owner Kevin DeLange. "We are doing a forty-barrel brewhouse with four big tanks that will allow us to brew every three hours. That is super-oversized for us -- with that, we could do 100,000 barrels a year, which would make us the second biggest brewery in Colorado -- but that will be a long time from now. The reason is because I wanted this to be the last time we move."
Once the brewing system is online, Dry Dock will add a tasting room to the building, which could include a bar on a second-story mezzanine. DeLange, who founded Dry Dock in 2005, estimates that entire project will cost about $4 million.
They'll also add a canning line that can fill and seal about forty cans per minute, says Alexis Foreman of Wild Goose Engineering in Boulder. Wild Goose, which just got into the canning line business last year, has provided similar machines for Breckenridge, Upslope, Crazy Mountain, Eddyline and several other in and out-of-state craft brewers.
DeLange says Dry Dock will start by canning Apricot Blonde, Hefeweizen, Victory Amber and "something" hoppy and will continue to release beers in 22-ounce bottles as well; he isn't sure whether the cans will be twelve or sixteen ounces. If sales go well, the footprint of the canning line is so small that Dry Dock could add a second one later.
Dry Dock's current brewery and tasting room, at 15120 East Hampden Avenue in Aurora, will stay the same, although the brewers there will be able to focus more on sour-style beers, barrel-aged brews and other small-batch and experimental creations. "We will be able to play around a lot more and have some fun," DeLange says. "This take a huge amount of pressure off of that brewhouse."
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The expansion also means Dry Dock will begin distributing its beers statewide and will consider expanding out of state by the end of 2013. "Our focus right now is on Colorado, but it will be fairly easy for us to grow just by adding new fermeters."