Want to socialize without the booze? Sober Underground — with concerts, open mics, pool tables, darts, pizza, a stage and Austin Powers-inspired bubble swings — is a place built for you.
Opened in September 2020, the venue is the next step in son-and-mother-duo Chris and Mary Brewer’s mission to help out community members working to overcome alcoholism and addiction. The Brewers have been working with recovering alcoholics and addicts since 2004, both by providing sober housing and by starting New Beginnings Recovery Center, a nonprofit that provides housing and recovery programs.
Their mission started after an employee at the Brewers’ property management company developed a cocaine addiction. After helping him to get treatment, they learned of the challenges he faced in finding housing, and as property managers, they realized they had the means to help not only him but others. They designated their properties as sober housing and founded Mary’s Hope Sober Homes, a nonprofit with a faith-based element. Today those properties house 135 residents.
New Beginnings Recovery Center started a couple years later, in 2014, as the Brewers looked to expand their offerings to the recovery community.
However, despite offering housing and treatment programs, Chris Brewer wanted to do more to address the lack of sober social spaces. He was particularly inspired by an article about Spiritual Soldiers Coffee Compound in Ontario, Canada. The now-closed coffee shop and sober bar provided a way to make recovery fun, and Brewer wanted to bring that concept to Denver.
Sober Underground not only provides a sober space, but it also avoids any mention of alcohol that could trigger the desire for a drink, Brewer explains.
Sober Underground opened last fall — and while the plan was already in motion before the pandemic, COVID-19 brought added urgency to provide a sense of community for people in recovery.
“Isolation is not a good thing. We did push forward even though a lot of places were closing the doors,” Chris says. “We blew ours right open.”
Now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased, the venue is returning to full capacity, and word is spreading. Recently, a couple flew in from Boston to learn about their model, much the same as Chris had taken note of Spiritual Soldiers in Ontario.
“The sober community is truly amazing. People just started referring others to us,” Chris says. Already they’ve had attendees whose ages range from eighteen to seventy years old. The only requirement is sobriety.
The Brewers have hosted events such as Soda and Scribbles — a sober version of Wine With a Twist — and local comedy acts, along with Friday night music events that span pop, jazz, country and covers. A car-show fundraiser is planned for late July. In addition, the space has held Bible studies and AA meetings.
But the draw of Sober Underground isn’t just the events; it’s the space, the foosball tables, the snack bar, the stage and the community it hosts.
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