When Coda Brewing opened in May 2014, co-owners Luke Smith and Scott Procop hoped to make beautiful music on the former Fitzsimons Army base in Aurora. And for a while, they did: Coda won medals at the Great American Beer Festival for two different beers in 2014 and 2015. But that music apparently led to some sour notes.
Last week, Procop, who also runs the Cedar Creek Pub at 2100 North Ursula Street, next to Coda, took to Facebook to announce that he and Smith, who was also the head brewer, had parted ways and that Coda will change its name to Ursula Brewery (Ursula is the name of the street where it is located).
“In music, the coda symbol marks the end of a passage. Today, Coda Brewing Company has come to the end of their passage; Coda Brewing Company is changing their name to Ursula Brewery. After two years of business, Luke Smith and Scott Procop have ended their working relationship as brewer and owner,” Procop wrote on Facebook. “While the brewery will retain the recipes they created together, the name will remain with Luke. For Scott the decision means a complete rebranding. For his team, it means a chance to reinvent the brewery from the ground up, to fit their culture.”
But the story isn’t quite that simple. Although Smith couldn’t get into the specifics of what happened because of ongoing legal negotiations, he says he plans to reopen Coda in south Golden.
“This is not the end of Coda.... What first came out is that Luke left Coda. But I didn’t leave Coda. Coda left Aurora,” says Smith, who owns the trademark to the name. He also owns the recipes that he designed before going into business with Procop. “I designed the fruit kolsch [which won silver at GABF in 2014] in my barn before starting the company,” he notes.
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Smith is frustrated that Ursula will continue the music theme, since that was “the essence of Coda — collaborating with musicians and making the beer they wanted to drink,” he says. “But you can’t trademark an idea.”
Ursula Brewery’s Facebook page describes Procop’s new culture and branding plan as “Rock ’n’ Roll with a twist. Their logo centers around a guitar pick. He believes this not only fits Ursula Brewery’s front of house, but also the back of house. From new additions like Hip-Hop Wednesdays and D.J. Thursdays, where customers can request to play their favorite albums; to naming all of their beers after Rock ’n’ Roll bands, songs, and artists; to using their performance stage for bands and local talent; to special events and experimental beer. He believes the new branding encapsulates that ‘rebel without a cause’ attitude.”
This isn't the first time that a local brewery has been rattled by an ownership fight that left a co-owner/head brewer on the outs. Prost Brewing and Jagged Mountain, both in Denver, went through similar changes.