Beer Man

Great Divide opening the Barrel Bar, a small tap room on the site of its future brewery

Great Divide Brewing will open a small tap room called the Barrel Bar next spring at 35th Avenue and Brighton Boulevard, on the site of its future brewery in the River North neighborhood.

With a patio outside and room for an estimated forty to fifty people inside, the Barrel Bar will be attached to the 70,000-square-foot warehouse, storage and packaging facility that the brewery plans to break ground on in late June or early July.

See also: Great Divide will show off site of second location during 20th anniversary blowout in June

That project will be the first phase of what will eventually be a $38.2 million, five-acre brewing campus on the banks of the South Platte River. Great Divide is hosting its twentieth-anniversary party on the site -- a former auto-parts lot and junkyard at 3403 Brighton Boulevard -- on Saturday, June 14, complete with music and food trucks.

"The brewery and the main tap room won't be finished for two and a half to three years, but we wanted to have more than just a warehouse between now and then," says Great Divide founder Brian Dunn. "This will give us a retail presence on that corner."

Featuring specialty and small-batch beers, the Barrel Bar will offer patrons a view into Great Divide's planned barrel room, which will hold 1,000 wooden barrels in which the brewery will age beers like Yeti, Old Ruffian and Hibernation.

The warehouse will also hold Great Divide's finished beer before it is shipped off-site and a huge canning line built by Germany's KHS -- the same company that made canning lines for New Belgium and Oskar Blues, Colorado's two largest craft brewers.

Capable of packaging about 350 cans per minute, the line should be up and running sometime in the spring of 2015; this will be Great Divide's first foray into canning. Dunn isn't sure yet which of the brewery's beers will be the first to be packaged in aluminum.

"We think cans are a great package. We just have never had the room to do it," he says.

The second phase of Great Divide's massive undertaking will begin in the fall of 2015; it will include construction and installation of the offices, fermenters and a brewhouse capable of producing 100,000 barrels of beer to start and 250,000 eventually. There will also be a large tap room and beer garden facing the river and the mountains.

Dunn says the Barrel Bar will continue to operate even after the primary tap room opens, and that Great Divide's current location on Arapahoe Street will also stay open.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes