The new Blue Moon brewery and restaurant is taking shape at 1910 38th Street, just a short distance north of the original Blue Moon Brewing Company at the Sandlot inside Coors Field, where the Coors-owned company got its start in 1995. Founding brewer Keith Villa expects a soft opening in the first week of July, and along with a twenty-barrel brewing system, there will also be a massive 450-seat restaurant headed by chef Darrell Jensen.
Jensen is no stranger to beer-friendly food; he previously cooked for Oskar Blues in Longmont and has been working with chef Jensen Cummings of Brewed Food to come up with dishes that not only match well with Blue Moon's beers (of which there will eventually be more than thirty in a number of different styles), but actually utilize ingredients from the brewing process to build flavors and textures that give the food even more affinity with specific beers.
The menu hasn't been set yet, but Jensen has been testing recipes that draw inspiration from a number of world cuisines while sharing ingredients with Villa's beers. A simple plate of roasted cauliflower and candied almonds gets a boost from orange slices imbued with hops oil, lending bitter, sweet and tart elements all at once.
Some of the dishes revealed by the chef at a recent tasting included international touches like red and green harissa, Thai green curry and smoked chiles that added a rustic touch to Oaxacan beans. While a roast pork shank would be right at home in a German beer hall, Jensen's vision for the final menu ranges far from standard brewpub fare.
On the beer side, Villa explains that quality and consistency will be the number-one goal, but there will be plenty of room for experimentation and unique styles, because the 13,000-square-foot brewery will also include a small pilot system and space for barrel-aging. The opening will add to the already thriving RiNo brewery scene, with Great Divide, Mockery, Ratio, Black Shirt, Epic, Our Mutual Friend, Zephyr, Beryl's and Crooked Stave's tap rooms all in the neighborhood.