Beer Man

Silverton Brewing gets a little help from its friends in Fort Collins

Silverton Brewing has hired the Fort Collins Brewing Company to contract-brew and bottle two of its beers so that they can be distributed throughout Colorado. Six-packs of Big Ass Brown and Ice Pick Ale should be available locally in February.

The little brewery, which was founded in 2004 by Joel and Katherine Harvie, had never shipped its beer outside of Silverton before last year.

But over the summer, it struck a deal with SEAR Capital Management, an investment firm that was planning to buy Durango's financially troubled Steamworks Brewing and to brew and package beer for other breweries. The arrangement would have allowed Silverton to ship its beer statewide. But SEAR's deal with Steamworks fell through, leaving Silverton looking for another contract brewer. (Steamworks beers are now contract-brewed and canned by Durango's Ska Brewing.)

"We were looking to have Ska do the same thing for us, but they don't have enough capacity," Joel Harvie says. "We found Fort Collins by asking around."

Fort Collins Brewing also contracts for New Planet, a Boulder company specializing in gluten-free beers. Earlier this year, Fort Collins moved its operation into a new $4 million facility at 1020 East Lincoln Avenue; it also added four 100-barrel fermentation tanks, which will increase its brewing capacity substantially.

"We went from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet," says brewery owner Tom Peters. "We have a lot of room for expansion. This was designed for us to grow into."

In the meantime, though, Fort Collins is using that space to make beer Silverton and New Planet, which is adding a third beer to its gluten-free lineup. And in March or April, Fort Collins plans to open a full-service restaurant with a new tasting room on site.

Eventually, Fort Collins may invest in a canning line as well, but that is down the road a ways. "We spent over a million dollars on the packaging line we use now," says Peters, who ships his bottled beer to twenty states. "So we're not looking at canning in 2011."

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan.