Bill Eye, the award-winning head brewer at Aurora's Dry Dock Brewing, has taken a job as brewmaster -- and one of the managing partners -- at Prost Brewing, an all German-style lager beer maker that plans to open in Denver next spring.
Eye was responsible for several of the Dry Dock German-style beer recipes that have taken home medals at beer competitions, including its Hefeweizen, which won silvers in 2009 and 2010 and a gold at this year's Great American Beer Festival, and the brewery's Bismarck Altbier, which won gold in 2009 and silver in 2010.
"Dry Dock is a phenomenal place to be, and this was a tough choice to make, but I have a chance to do this for myself," says Eye, who will continue to lead Dry Dock's team of six brewers until Prost is up and running. " This is what I have wanted to do for ten years."
Prost, located at 2540 19th Street in the Harold Call and Company building in Highland, will brew and sell only German-style beers, including pilsners, hefeweizens and dunkels, and it will never have more than four on tap at time. It's an unusual strategy for a craft brewer right now, while the industry is experiencing a Renaissance based on big, bold or unusual beers, like imperial stouts, double IPAs, Belgian trippels and sours.
But Eye and his five business partners at Prost - including Brauns on Blake owner Troy Johnston -- believe it will work. In fact, they say lighter beers are the next big thing.
"What we don't realize sometimes, even those of us who are inside the industry, is that nine out of ten people still aren't drinking our beers," Eye says of the big beers made by breweries like Avery, Great Divide, Oskar Blues and Dry Dock. "They are drinking macro beers, even in Colorado, where we have the most informed beer-drinkers in the nation. German beers are clean and easy to drink. They attract people. There will always be room for big Russian imperial stouts, but I think there's a wider appeal for lagers."
And they'll have plenty of capacity to try to prove that point. Prost has purchased a specialized, massive and all-copper 72.25-barrel brewhouse from a now-closed brewery in the world-famous German brewing region of Bamberg. Built in 1963, the equipment is being completely disassembled and then shipped by boat to Houston, where it will be trucked to Denver and reassembled on 19th Street.
"I've never seen a more classical-looking, beautiful brewhouse. I can't wait to use it," Eye says. "I've been having nightmares about there being tsunamis or capsizing boats."
By comparison, Dry Dock uses a fifteen-barrel brewing system, but manages to make an enormous variety of beers. So if Prost is brewing 72-barrel batches of only three or four styles, it is going to have a lot of lager to sell.
"In Germany, a couple selections is all you can expect," Eye explains. "But they are executed flawlessly. It's not the American experience in the craft beer scene."
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Eye says his love of German beers -- hefeweizens in particular -- comes from his travels through Germany and because of his personality. "I am a technical guy and they are a more technical beer to make," he explains. "They are very tight. Stylistically, they are narrower."
Dry Dock owner Kevin DeLange says he is happy that Eye will have a chance to follow his passion full time: "This has always been his dream."