Beer Man

As the Craft-Beer Industry Grows, Head Brewers Switch Jobs

The Colorado craft-brewing scene is growing — which means that several head brewers are going. There have been several high-profile changes recently at the area's top breweries. The first took place when Great Divide head brewer Taylor Rees, who had been with the brewery for ten years, teamed up with Austin Wiley, who ran Denver Beer Co's Platte Street tap room, to form their own operation. Rees, Collie and Darren Boyd, who had all worked together at Great Divide at one point, opened Spangalang Brewing in Five Points earlier this month. To fill the void, Great Divide promoted brewer Ethan Osborne (formerly of Crazy Mountain Brewery in Edwards) to the top job there.

Denver Beer Co, meanwhile, hired Jason Buehler in early April to take over as head brewer at the company's Platte Street tap room. Buehler had been the head brewer at Oskar Blues's original Lyons location since 2012. “Buehler brings a wealth of experience to Denver Beer Co. from his previous role at Oskar Blues, where he managed the specialty beer brewery and research and recipe development,” Denver Beer Co says in a statement about the change. “He initiated the Oskar Blues barrel-aging program in Lyons in addition to many collaboration projects with other breweries.”

In turn, Oskar Blues promoted Juice Drapeau to the head-brewer position; Drapeau had run the brewery's draft nitro program that eventually led to the launch of Old Chub Nitro in a can. Drapeau joined Oskar Blues in 2010 and began brewing full-time in 2014.

Back in Denver, head brewer Andy Brown left the Wynkoop Brewing Company in December to start his own cider-making operation, C-Squared, which is slated to open later this spring or summer inside the Bindery on Blake; Brown had been at Wynkoop since 2008.

Mike Hall of Phantom Canyon Brewing in Colorado Springs took over briefly as interim brewer at the Wynkoop; both breweries are owned by the Breckenridge-Wynkoop parent company. When Hall returned to Phantom Canyon, though, the Wynkoop hired Wayne Burns from Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery. Although Burns – who is still part owner at Jagged Mountain – won't brew on a day-to-day basis, he will oversee the brewing operations at the Wynkoop; Greg Moore, Bess Dougherty and Charles McManus will make most of the beer.

Jagged Mountain has since tapped Adam Glaser, formerly of the Fort Collins Brewery, as its new head brewer. “His beers have been very well received, and he is a great fit for our team,” says Jagged co-owner RJ Banat, adding that yesterday was the first day that the brewery's entire menu consisted of Glaser's beers.

And finally, Dry Dock head brewer Brett Williams is leaving to start his own brewery, Little Machine, along with Mike Dunkly and Ben Chenard. “Although we're sad to see Brett leave, we're excited about his opportunity and wish him the best,” Dry Dock co-founder Kevin DeLange said a few weeks ago after the announcement. “Every brewer dreams of having their own place and…given his experience, technical brewing skills and passion, we're sure Brett will be successful.”

Dry Dock is still working on replacing Williams, DeLange says.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes