Joe Vostrejs and his Larimer Associates partners traversed across the country to check out America's beer gardens before they came back to Denver to build their own -- and what they found, admits Vostrejs, was surprising.
"We didn't see a lot of authentic beer gardens, but we saw a lot of beer halls that passed themselves off as beer gardens, and that's not what we were expecting," says Vostrejs, who, along with business partners Jeff Hermanson, Rod Wagner and Patricia McHenry, are building the Lowry Beer Garden, a nearly 8,000-square-foot bar, beer garden and pavilion in Lowry, as part of the Hangar 2 project, an expansive, 110,000-square-foot property that will eventually include boutique retail and office tenants, along with twelve restaurant spaces, which will make up the Lowry Dining District.
And the Lowry Beer Garden will be the first eating and drinking (and dancing!) establishment to open in the dining district, says Vostrejs, who's hoping to complete the project by mid-May. The behemoth space includes a 1,700-square-foot bar and kitchen, which will take over the dock building on the east side of Hangar No. 2, a 2,000-square-foot covered pavilion and a 4,000-square-foot outdoor beer garden. And, according to Vostrejs, it'll be the real deal. "What we're going for is an interactive, convivial and social place where everyone can connect," he says, adding, too, that the garden, designed to mimic a park, will be strewn with Oktoberfest-style picnic tables brought to Denver straight from Germany. "We're bringing what we think is an authentic beer garden that will also reflect our location in Colorado," he says, noting that the beer roster will showcase the state's burgeoning craft beer movement.
"As everyone says, Colorado is the Napa Valley of beer, so our beer focus will definitely be on Colorado-brewed beers, but we'll obviously offer some imported beers, too," says Vostrejs, who estimates that the tap lines will feature twenty beers -- and several more in the bottle.
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Troy Guard, the chef/owner of TAG and TAG RAW BAR, both in Larimer Square, is consulting on the menu, which, says Vostrejs, will be "indicative of stuff that you eat in a beer garden -- great burgers and brats and house-baked pretzels." And because this is a city where people (at least some of us) engage in a healthy lifestyle, Vostrejs notes that salads will also take center stage. "It's Colorado, you know, and people here like healthy options, and Troy can really help us with that."
Essentially, says Vostrejs, the beer garden, is an "alchemy of best practices across the country, and while we were on our learning expedition looking at other beer gardens, we figured out what we wanted to do here, and we knew that we wanted it to be a traditional beer garden with a seasonal aspect to it."
Larimer Associates, which operates restaurants all across Denver, including Billy's Inn, LoHi Steakbar, Madison Street and Ernie's Bar & Pizza, and also runs Larimer Square, has a liquor-license hearing date with the Department of Excise and Licenses on February 23.