But a lot has changed. In 2019, the mothership was purchased by the Kirin beer conglomerate, and in 2020, the pandemic hit, shuttering bars, restaurants and breweries across the country. Now, halfway through 2021, New Belgium's little Denver pilot project is still out there, but its continuing mission has changed, and the two brewers who operate it will need to find a way to connect with the city and find new life on their own.
"We kind of pivoted, and now we are more of a standalone entity trying to be more Colorado-centric," says brewer Isaac Koski, who runs the ten-barrel system at the Source Hotel with fellow brewer Hal Doss. "But we realized we needed to come up with a better way to build revenue and have it work for us. ... We saw what was happening around can sales and figured that was the only way we were going to survive."
Like dozens of other brewers in Colorado, Koski and Doss decided to buy a small canning machine — in this case, from Codi Manufacturing, a canning-line specialist in Golden. "We've done a few small runs," Doss reports, including some custom beers (Blunt Man Hazy IPA and Chronic Lager) for Mooby's, Kevin Smith's recent Clerks-themed fast-food pop-up in Denver, and Love Conquers Ale, a collaboration with Boston Beer Company.
But on July 9, New Belgium at the Source will release its first flagship beer, Queen City Haze, a New England-style IPA brewed with Citra and Galaxy hops, as well as Mosaic cryo-hops. Customers will be able to order it online and then pick it up at the brewery whenever Koski and Doss are around. "We'll throw out a banner, and there's a big garage door we can roll up that faces [Brighton Boulevard]," Doss says.
In addition, they're brewing plenty of draft-only beers for the Woods and other customers again. Some recent brews have included a strawberry guava sour, a dark lager, a West Coast-style IPA, a German helles and Sunshine Wheat, a small-batch version of one of New Belgium's now-discontinued flagships. "We have had full tanks for the past few weeks. In fact, we can't make enough beer," Doss says.
"We have autonomy on what we make, so we kind of do our own thing," Koski adds. They also do every other job at the brewery, including can and keg sales and delivery and sourcing of raw materials — though that typically involves a trip to Fort Collins. "It's just like a small brewery," he says, "but we can get good hops."