Is Denver's Brewery Boom Slowing Down?
Little Machine was the most recent brewery to open in Denver, when it began pouring beer in late October.
Over the past five years, Denver has seen a brewery boom that took our collective breath away. In 2010, when Strange Brewing (not Strange Craft Beer) opened, there were only about eight beer-makers in town. By the end of 2015, there will be more than sixty. But the pace of those openings, which have averaged more than one per month over the past two years, is finally showing signs of a slowdown.
Over the next few months, the city will see a small flurry of openings that should help 2015 break last year’s record of sixteen new breweries: Cerebral Brewing, on East Colfax Avenue, Seedstock Brewing, on West Colfax, and Bierstadt Lagerhaus, on Blake Street in busy River North, are all hoping to begin pouring beers before December 31, which would bring the 2015 total to at least eighteen. (Below, see the list of breweries that have opened within Denver city limits so far in 2015.) But 2016 doesn’t look like it will keep a comparable pace, especially when it comes to brand-new breweries. At the moment, we only know of only a few possibilities:
The owners of Briar Common Brewery + Eatery, at 2298 Clay Street, had hoped to open this year, but a variety of delays have pushed construction out into 2016. When it opens, the spot will include a full kitchen.
Then there’s Blue Moon, the Coors-owned brand that was founded inside Coors Field, which said early this year that it will open a 27,000-square-foot pilot brewery at 1910 38th Street, near Globeville Landing Park.
After that, things get a little murky. Great Divide could open its large new brewery (capable of making 100,000 barrels of beer to start) in 2016 in River North — but it’s more likely that the project won’t be complete until 2017.
An artist's rendering of New Belgium's planned poolside barrel bar at the Source Hotel.
Also on the horizon for 2017: a ten-barrel pilot brewery and poolside barrel-aging room from New Belgium that would be located inside the planned Source Hotel, right next to the Source on Brighton Boulevard.
And finally, a brewery could open inside the Westin Hotel at Denver International Airport. Proposals were submitted last month, and although the winning bidder — if there is one — won’t be known for some time, it’s likely to be an established Colorado brewery. That project probably wouldn’t be finished until 2017.
Beyond that? Crickets. There are still several would-be breweries in the planning stages scouting the city for a location. But we don’t know of any that have signed a lease or even zeroed in on an address. However, there are several breweries slated for suburban communities, such as Lakewood, Evergreen, Castle Rock and Aurora.
Interestingly, Denver lost two breweries in 2015: Breckenridge, which moved to Littleton, and River North, which was forced to close because its building is being redeveloped. But the latter should reopen soon in a new location, and Crazy Mountain moved into Breckenridge’s old Kalamath space right after Breck moved out.
Here's the list of breweries that have opened in Denver so far this year: Call to Arms, Co-Brew, Crazy Mountain, Declaration, Deep Draft, Factotum, Goldspot, Good River (non-taproom location), Little Machine, Renegade's new production facility (non-taproom location), Ratio, Sleeping Giant contract brewing (non-taproom location), Spangalang, Tivoli, TRVE production facility (non-taproom location).
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Denver dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.