Helping to further solidify River North's reputation as a burgeoning creative district and hub for new and inventive breweries, Ratio Beerworks will open it's doors on February 14 on upper Larimer Street.
The brewery, founded by Jason zumBrunnen, Zach Lowery and Scott Kaplan, will have six flagship beers on tap — as well as a respect, love and a desire to collaborate with the neighborhood, zumBrunnen says.
zumBrunnen, who studied brewing at the Seibel Institute in Chicago as well as Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany, knows that Ratio's location is ideal. "We love that we are headquartered here in Denver," he says. "But especially happy to be in this neighborhood. We used to do bike brewery tours in this neighborhood before we started the brewery. We couldn’t be more excited."
Collaborations from local artists and businesses are evident as soon as you walk up to Ratio as the outside is wrapped with an ornate metal fence constructed by local metal worker Charles Lefkowitz. Inside, brilliantly crafted tables were carved by wood worker Steve Fast of Fast Industries. Jason's wife, Christie zumBrunnen, is responsible for planning the rest of the brewery's striking aesthetic.
"The beer community is growing so big that I think there’s a lot of room for different styles of breweries," zumBrunnen says. "When you're a brewery at our level, it’s really important you can get people in your taproom but it’s also about how you're supporting the community."
Decorum aside, the menu itself boasts collaborations from local Denver businesses, as one of the beers, the Hold Steady, a smooth dark Scotch ale, is brewed with Novo Coffee. The names of the beers are all derived from either band names or song titles, a connection to how the three friends first met.
"Music and punk rock are the things that brought us together originally is the mid-'90s," Kaplan says. "I met Jason in Boulder when our bands used to play together at Club 156, and I met Zach through his old record label (Grey Flight Records). We bonded over the bands we like as much as the beer we like. Music is the driving force behind pretty much everything we do in life. It would be remiss of us to not pay homage to the things that brought us together in the first place."
Other than the names, the five flagship beers each has its own flavor and finish — notably, Domestica, which is a light, crisp beer with a Pilsner twist. It's a style not always present at craft breweries, zumBrunnen says, attributing its creation to his days as a musician. "When you are playing in bands going to these awesome, hot shows you really want to drink something like Domestica. I love the big beers, but I also love drinkable beers that you can have when you’re thirsty. There was a lot of thought that went into it to make an easy, light drinking beer that still has hop flavor and aroma and some complexity to it."
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This weekend's grand opening will start at noon, and all six beers will be on tap and ready for consumption. Food trucks will be provided by Pinche Taqueria and Basic Kneads Pizza.
"We always responded to when (Governer) Hickenlooper referred to Colorado as being the Napa Valley of beer," Kaplan says. "You start getting into districts and right now, RiNo is a pretty core district as far as that statement goes. There are a lot of great breweries here and we can all kind of feed off each other and challenge ourselves to be great, but also share customers and share business. That’s a big part of why we got into this sense of community and people coming together big in this neighborhood has been a great extension of that."