Six breweries have opened in the Denver area so far this year, and there are more on the horizon. And while craft beer lovers might say it's impossible to have "too many breweries," it is becoming exponentially more difficult to stand out in the ever-growing crowd of competition. But the brothers behind Black Shirt Brewing, set to open early 2012 in the RiNo district, plan to do so in more ways than one. To begin with, they're employing the public in their start-up process. After nearly ten years of planning and honing recipes, brothers Chad and Branden Miller, along with Chad's wife Carissa, are finally ready to share their beers with the public. But in order to do so, they're asking for a little help, via Kickstarter, an online fundraising platform for creative industry projects.
"Friends and family who knew about our dream to open a brewery kept asking us how they could help out." explains Branden. "So, we found a way for them to through Kickstarter. Plus, it's a great way to get the community involved with their local beer scene."
Here's how it works: The Millers set a financial goal of $25,000 through Kickstarter, and they have sixty days to meet it. If they succeed, they get 95 percent of all money donated to their cause; the remaining 5 percent is paid in fees to Kickstarter. But if they don't raise enough funds, they don't get any money, and donors aren't charged for their pledge. It's an all-or-none model that can be a bit of a risk.
"We'll open Black Shirt one way or another, even if we have to do it in stages." says Branden. "But as you can imagine, the start-up cost for a brewery is huge, even for one of our size, and this is a great way to raise money so we can open something closer to our full vision for the community, with a tasting room for instance, something we can't afford right now."
The Millers are equipped to start brewing though, with a four-barrel brewhouse and a fifteen-barrel fermentor, and once construction is done in their space at 3719 Walnut Street, they'll start shipping beers out the door. And all of those beers will all fall into one category: red ale.
"It's a versatile style that no one is really focusing on right now," notes Branden. "It can be hop- or malt-driven, drinkable and strong enough to age. We have a flagship, but we're really excited to experiment with different hops, malt and yeast, and release single batch series. We'll also have barrel-aging and souring programs, but again, as funds allow."
Black Shirt is halfway through its Kickstarter campaign, and have thus far raised around a fifth of their minimum goal. Those interested in lending them a hand will receive schwag, beer and VIP treatment, depending on their pledge; all supporters will be officially inducted into the BSB Mafia.
The name, says Branden, "basically stems from me and my brother wearing black shirts when we were kids, feeling like little badasses -- because we were. I don't think I've ever owned a white shirt. It's about swagger and camaraderie."
For more information, visit Black Shirt's Kickstarter page.