The owners of Zephyr Brewing tell an increasingly common story: The crew of Colorado natives wanted to start a brewery in Denver, but couldn't find a good spot in Washington Park or Capitol Hill, so they headed to River North.
"We were looking for up-and-coming neighborhoods," says Brian Wood, who will own the brewery with friends Tyler Shuey and Rich Wisniewski. "At the time, I didn't know about Crooked Stave and Epic coming along. We ran into this building, an empty warehouse that was like a blank slate for us... It worked."
The spot, at 2601 Walnut Street, is just two blocks from River North Brewery, but it will also share the neighborhood with Crooked Stave, Epic, Black Shirt, Our Mutual Friend, as well as Mockery Brewery, which is planning to open next March.
In addition, two other small breweries are working on opening in RiNo in 2014, and the much larger Great Divide is hoping to build a huge new facility there as well.
"We can find our niche in the neighborhood. We will be different enough that we will be able to find our own crowd," Wood says. "It should be a good neighborhood. We are not as far north as some of the others, so maybe we'll get some Coors Field traffic."
All three owners were raised in Aurora and have known each other for 25 years. Wood and Shuey both went to the University of Colorado in Boulder and ended up working in the high-tech industry -- Wood as a computer scientist and Shuey as an aerospace engineer. Wisniewski, a manager at Stadium Inn, is a locally recognized bartender.
Although Wood and Shuey are homebrewers, they've gotten their training from Tom Hennessy of Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery in Ridgway, who has written a book on brewery management and teaches a class for would-be brewery owners.
They've purchased their seven-barrel brewing system from Bennett Forgeworks, which is also located in Ridgway and has an increasing number of customers around the state.
"We're going with a homegrown Colorado theme," Wood says.
Zephyr's initial lineup will include a stout, an IPA, a Scotch Ale and a wheat, but they'll also have four rotating seasonal selections. The taproom will be able to hold ninety people, and there will be a small outdoor patio.
Zephyr's owners hope to open by the end of the year.
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