Arvada’s first craft brewery, the Arvada Beer Company, closed just over a year ago, becoming one of the only Denver metro area breweries to shut down in the past decade. Since then, however, the beer scene in this northwestern suburb has flourished rather than faltered: There are now four thriving breweries in Arvada — all of which are growing — and a fifth one on the way.
“Arvada is the seventh-largest city in Colorado, so the beer scene is definitely strong enough for everybody,” says Chris Hill, who opened Odyssey Beerworks in 2013. “It’s been an evolution — not just of people becoming craft-beer drinkers, but of people moving here from other areas in the metro area and bringing their love of craft beer with them.”
Over the past four years, Odyssey has tripled its fermentation capacity so it that can now store up to 180 barrels of beer. Hill also brought in a new head brewer, Joe Savage, from the respected Hangar 24 Brewing in Redlands, California, and the brewery has taken home a gold medal for its Clan Warrior Scotch Ale at the 2016 World Beer Cup and reorganized its lineup of canned beers.
Now, Hill is trying to figure out what the next step is. “I’d like to expand at our current location,” he says. “When we opened, it was a negative, but now it's a positive, because people come here to get away from everything.” Hill notes that while the brewery needs to grow, he’s hesitant to move or to open a second location, because customers like to come in and hang out with him and Savage. “We're a brewery, not a bar. People like feeling like they are part of the family. If we moved, it wouldn’t be the same. We wouldn’t have the same culture and environment we've built.”
And Hill isn’t the only one wrestling with the right way to grow in Arvada.
In February, the venerable Yak & Yeti brewery and Nepalese-style restaurant announced that it would rebrand the nine-year-old brewing side of its operation in order to distinguish it from the kitchen. The new entity, Spice Trade Brewing, has a new brewer and several new beers. There are also plans to start a production facility and to begin canning several of its flagship beers.
Brewer Jeff Tyler says the goal is to expand the brewery’s reach. “We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the brand and why people would buy our beer if it were sitting next to the hundreds of others that are available in liquor stores,” he told Westword in a previous interview. “And what we homed in on was our unique cultural and culinary roots.”
Over in Olde Town, New Image Brewing will celebrate its one-year anniversary this week. Founded by Brandon Capps and Sean Fisher, the brewpub — New Image also offers a full dinner menu along with wine and cocktails — found immediate success in the craft-beer scene and has barely been able to keep up with the demand for its canned beers or the brews on tap.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the response,” Capps says. “We can’t make enough beer.”
To help, the tiny brewery is expecting to add 120 barrels' worth of fermentation space (as well as some additional storage space) so that the brewers can increase production from about 75 barrels monthly to more than 200. Those changes will allow New Image to add to its lineup of three canned beers, which are currently East Coast Transplant, a hazy New England-style IPA; Dyad, a sour ale made with kombucha; and Olde Town Regular, a German-style lager-ale hybrid.
Joining New Image as the new kids on the block in 2016 were Ryan Parker and Tori Miller, who opened Someplace Else Brewery at 6425 West 52nd Avenue in September. One of the very few breweries where guests can choose from an array of pinball machines and other games, Someplace Else takes its name from an arcade in Michigan.
Like Odyssey, it takes a little effort to find Someplace Else; both are located in out-of-the-way business parks. But so far, beer lovers have been able to track them down.
The brewery offers a straightforward beer menu that includes an IPA, a saison, an amber, a stout, a pilsner and a wheat, along with some rotating selections. The newest beer, Mozacca Double IPA, was made with two Australian hops varieties, Moteuka and Azacca; it debuts March 24.
And finally, Denver Beer Co., which opened in 2011 and has two locations in Denver, is building a third brewery and taproom in a 4,350-square-foot former car dealership in Olde Town Arvada.
The brewery's model of operating multiple locations is unusual — even more so since a business with Denver in the name is expanding into Arvada, but owner Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford believe their successful formula will work. The space, at 5768 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard, will include a seven-barrel brewing system — just like the Platte Street spot — and will be modeled after the original tap room. There will also be long, communal tables on a 1,500-square-foot patio, open garage doors and local artwork.
“When we visited Olde Town Arvada and sent people up there to look at it, it just felt like a great fit for our team, for our culture and for our vibe," Berger told Westword late last year.
Construction at the new site is well under way, and the brewery is expected to open in late spring.
Odyssey Beerwerks' Hill doesn't think the competition will hurt. "The more the merrier. If they help put Arvada on the map even more as a thriving craft-beer scene, then I am all for it," he says. "I love it when people talk about beer in Arvada or take their beer-cations here."
In fact, after four years in business, Hill says he expects 2017 to be Odyssey's best year yet. "This is our year to have fun," he says. Odyssey plans to add a rotating seasonal program and expand its barrel-aged offerings. "I'm really excited about it. This should be our best year yet."