After thirteen years of toiling in the shadows of its parent company, Molson Coors, AC Golden Brewing is ready for the major leagues. The maker of Colorado Native, Batch 19, Barmen Pilsner and Hermann Joseph's Private Reserve will begin serving its beers in May at the AC Golden Tank Room in McGregor Square, the massive Colorado Rockies-associated mixed-use development across the street from Coors Field.
The 5,100-square-foot Tank Room, with a distinctive set of copper-clad tanks at its center, will also serve a full menu in its dining room and outdoor patio, and will be operated by Tom’s Watch Bar under a naming-rights deal with AC Golden. Tom's Watch Bar, an evolution of the Tom's Urban concept founded by restaurateur Tom Ryan, will open directly below the Tank Room.
AC Golden operates its own thirty-barrel brewery deep inside the massive Molson Coors plant in Golden in what used to be its parent company's developmental pilot system brewery. But the subsidiary has since become its own standalone brand and is known primarily for its line of canned and bottled Colorado Native beers, which now saturate supermarkets, convenience stores and liquor stores statewide.
David Coors, who runs the Colorado-based division of Molson Coors that oversees both AC Golden, said in a statement that the Tank Room will help "introduce" AC Golden to both visitors and locals. In truth, Colorado Native, which is only distributed in Colorado, is already well known locally. It just hasn't ever had a public taproom where people could go to drink in person, as they can in most modern breweries.
"Frankly we are overdue, and have spent the last few years looking at various options, but this is the first time the right formula came together," says AC Golden general manager Jeff Cornell. By contrast, its sister company, Blue Moon, got its start inside the Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field in 1995, is now distributed internationally and landed its own large brewpub in RiNo in 2016.
But the Tank Room will stand out because of its unusual serving vessels, five 66-gallon, copper-clad tanks placed horizontally in the rafters above the bar, creating a striking visual but also serving an experimental function for Molson Coors. Developed in Europe for pilsner distribution by a Dutch company called DuoTank, the chilled and pressurized tanks are lined with airtight bags that are designed to keep beer fresher and more flavorful for longer. "Because of the system design, there is virtually no oxygen pick-up, and the beer remains at cellar temperature the entire time. Also, because CO2 isn’t used in the dispensing process, the carbonation level at the bar is exactly the same as it was at the brewery," Cornell explains.
The bar will have up to five beers in the tanks at any one time, as well as a wide variety of AC Golden products available on draft via kegs, including its limited-release beers and barrel-aged sours.
AC Golden says it's the first bar in Colorado to use the DuoTank system, which allows the company's distributor to truck beer directly from the plant to the Tank Room in similar mobile tanks co-developed with DuoTank and tested at bars in Golden, Denver and Milwaukee, Cornell says.
Nick Philp, managing director of DuoTank's U.S. Division says there are a few other tank installations here, but adds that "AC Golden and Molson Coors are the first to invest in the beer quality, on-premise theatre and logistical benefits of Duotank." He credits David Coors, for "moving the needle internally" at Coors after having "drank lots of tank beer while living in Australia" for a while. "Now we have a chance to change draft beer."
In addition to the Tank Room and Tom's Watch Bar, McGregor Square will be home to a new Tattered Cover, Starbucks, Carmine's and numerous other tenants. The huge property, which was created by an investment group led by Dick Monfort, who also owns the Rockies, comprises three towers that house condos, a hotel and office and retail space. There's also a 28,000-square-foot plaza that will host year-round events such as concerts, festivals and an ice-skating rink in the winter.
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