Sometimes an unexpected setback is a blessing in disguise. That could be the case for 14er Brewing Company, which revealed this week that it no longer plans to build out a wood-barrel aging taproom and brewery at 2801 Walnut Street. Instead, brewery owners Nato Francescato and Andrew Kaczmarek are directing their energy and resources into improving the existing 14er Brewing and Beer Garden, at 3120 Blake Street, which they took over in August 2018 when Beryl’s Beer Company closed.
“We plan on making Blake Street our long-term home now,” Kaczmarek says, adding that 14er is in the midst of upgrading the fermentation tanks, adding a canning line and a cold storage space, and installing two sixty-barrel horizontal lagering tanks to help keep up with demand for 14er’s Long’s Lager, which has been selling well in single-serve 19.2-ounce cans.
“We have done a tremendous amount of work there to get it up to a pretty sizable production facility. We are missing a few key pieces, but in the next few months, we should have the ability to make 7,000 barrels a year,” Kaczmarek says. “We are pretty excited about that. It’s been a hell of a ride transitioning our brewing” from Crazy Mountain, where 14er had previously made all of its beer, to Blake Street, where it's now brewing it.
Since 2017, Francescato and Kaczmarek have been using the Walnut Street building as a temporary taproom, with the goal of remodeling it into a sour-beer showroom with a three-barrel brewing system and plenty of wooden barrels.
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“We fell in love with the aesthetics of that space, but construction costs just continue to skyrocket and there were more and more issues and requirements from the city… that made the project out of budget for a small brewery like us,” Kaczmarek says. “It’s a fantastic location, and we think it will make a fantastic home for a brewery, but it was an aggressive project from the start, and it stopped making sense for us.”
The brewery was also forced to cancel its plans to open a satellite taproom at 4042 Pecos Street after running into zoning issues there.
“Focusing on our operations here has been ‘centering,’ so to speak,” Kaczmarek adds. 14er is now working to get back up to speed on its canned beers, like Long’s Lager, Mt. Massive IPA, Maroon Bells Guava, Rocky Mountain Saison, Denver Michelada, and Key Lime Cream Ale, and to mix in some smaller-batch brews to fill up the taps in the taproom.