In the fifteen-month runup to the opening of Wonderland Brewing, owner Robert Lucero and his team visited lots of other local breweries and taprooms to look for ideas. "One thing I learned is that there are too many of these coming, too many little breweries," says Lucero, who has worked in design and construction. "We wrote down five things that we didn't like about each one so we could do it better -- and do it bigger."
When Wonderland opens -- officially on May 30 -- it will certainly be big: the 9,000-square-foot facility is located on a 3.6-acre campus that once belonged to a church youth group. It includes a massive yard, basketball courts, 95-space parking lot and a house.
Inside, the taproom features a huge bar made with reclaimed wood from Lucero's family farm in Longmont, tile and woodwork from the farm, booths left over from a Chinese food restaurant, a stage for live music, and space for about 200 people. There are also a couple of garage doors that open to a patio and beer garden in front.
In addition, Wonderland features six tournament-style ping pong tables and tables made out of old snowboards that were donated by Never Summer Industries in Denver.
And then there's the décor, which in addition to the bar and funky booths, includes extensive tile work and mosaics, slick lighting and a huge mural of the Colorado state flag. Even the fermentation tanks and brewhouse in back have been decorated.
"With everything we do, we ask, 'Is this a wonderland? Is this as good as it could be?'," explains head brewer Joshua Willett, formerly of Fort Collins Brewery and the Wynkoop before that. "It's a mindset and a bigger philosophy for us."
Willett -- along with Lucero, Bud Rogers and Brooke Balsley -- have been working on the brewery for more than a year now, and only recently got a chance to actually brew. When Wonderland opens, it will have at least seven beers on tap: an IPA, a black IPA, an amber, a Belgian-style blonde, a peach wit, a Belgian dubbel and a pale ale.
Wonderland will specialize in hoppy and Belgian-style beers, Willett says, and will eventually brew English-style ales that will be aged in wooden barrels.
All of those beers -- and any other beer that the brewery makes -- will be available to-go since Wonderland will be filling and selling 32-ounce aluminum Crowlers with a table-top can-seeming device like the one at Oskar Blues's Tasty Weasel taproom. Wonderland will sell the Crowlers rather than traditional glass growlers.
Although the basketball courts and lawn aren't open yet -- Wonderland has to provide fencing and security to meet liquor-law requirements -- the owners plan to let customers out back eventually to play hoops, bocce ball, volleyball and other games.
They've also tossed around several ideas for what to do with the house behind Wonderland, including creating a cigar bar, kitchen, employee hangout, speakeasy or storage.
Wonderland may have intermittent hours over the next few days, but it will officially open its doors on Friday, May 30, with a party featuring live music from the New Classics at 6 p.m. and pizza from the Basic Kneads food truck.
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