TJ Slattery and Willy Truettner could have spent less money to rent space for their brewery in a different neighborhood or on the outskirts of Denver, but when they found the former home of the Green Garage — an eco-friendly auto mechanic with solar panels on the roof — they decided it was worth the cost.
“We wanted to create a wilderness oasis in the city,” says Slattery, who grew up in Denver and has a background in sales and finance. “The Green Garage is a higher rent, but it is very appealing.” The two plan to open Zuni Street Brewing, at 2900 Zuni Street, sometime this fall.
Some of that appeal comes from the Lower Highland neighborhood, a dense area full of young Denver residents who enjoy craft beer and outdoor activities — just like Slattery and Truettner, who first met as lab partners in middle school sixteen years ago. But they also liked the existing garage doors — there are eight of them — that will open up to two separate patios on either side of the brewery.
The interior of the 3,500-square-foot space will be decorated in a motif that evokes wood, trees and nature, Slattery adds, in part because one of their seven investors is an arborist, and in part because it will add to the feeling of the outdoors, sunshine and nature; the two plan to give some of their profits to environmental causes. And the solar panels on the roof will help power some of the electrical equipment inside the building.
It won’t be enough to power the ten-barrel brewing system, but Truettner says he is working on ways to recycle the water he uses when brewing beer to help conserve energy and resources.
A former brewer with New Belgium and Bell’s Brewery, Truettner, who also has a brewing degree from the Siebel Institute, plans to make a wide variety of beers once Zuni Street opens. He says he will work with three different yeast strains — Belgian, German and American — since he has a background in making beer styles from all three countries.
The brewery’s name has an interesting backstory as well. Slattery and Truettner had several names picked out, but ran into trouble with some of them because of trademark issues. Eventually, they landed on Zuni — the name of the street where the brewery is located — because it has a connection to the neighborhood. But just to be sure it was okay, they contacted the Zuni tribe from the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico to ask.
“We wanted to be sensitive to Native Americans. They were happy to let us use the name,” Slattery says. They also corrected him on the pronunciation of Zuni. It is ZU-nee, not ZUN-eye.
Slattery and Truettner signed the lease in March. They hope to begin full construction in August and open in November.