Denver will lose its biggest brewer this weekend when Breckenridge Brewery officially opens its massive, twelve-acre campus on the banks of the South Platte River in Littleton. But the city's loss will be a major gain for Colorado beer drinkers and beer tourists, who will gain a malty, hoppy adult playground where they'll be able to try a huge spectrum of Breckenridge beers, eat at the ski-lodge-like Ranch House restaurant, tour the huge, state-of-the-art brewhouse, fermentation cellar and barrel room, and enjoy the view.
The $36 million farm-like operation — located on a former carnation farm and nursery — includes a two-story, 76,000 brewery/cellar/warehouse with a 100-barrel Steinecker brewhouse, sixteen 400-barrel fermenters and six grain silos, each holding 100,000 pounds of grain (or roughly two semi-loads apiece). It replaces Breckenridge's longtime headquarters at 471 Kalamath Street — a building that Breckenridge plans to sell to a developer who may in turn lease it to another brewery.
Breckenridge has already begun brewing on the new system, says brewery chief Todd Usry, and it will begin packaging in a few weeks on lines that can handle 300 twelve-ounce bottles per minute and 275 cans per minute. The brewery's old packaging lines were only able to accommodate 100 bottles per minute and 35 cans per minute. Breck will continue to use the old system for the next few weeks.
In addition to a 65-seat taproom in the brewery that has sixteen taps, Breckenridge has already opened its 8,000-square-foot Farm House restaurant, which boasts a wide menu, seating for 296 people indoors and 292 outdoors on a wrap-around porch, patio and beer garden. Breckenridge is still finishing up its stage and landscaping, which will include a two-acre hop farm next year.
Public tours (reservations encouraged), which begin in the tasting room and include a ten-ounce pour from the daily selection on tap, being today. The brewery will host tours four times a day, Wednesdays through Mondays; they cost $3. "The tour path leads from tasting room to brewery mezzanine overlooking the four-vessel 100-barrel brewhouse, across the bridge to the fermentation building, and continues on to barrel aging and packaging. Tours conclude back in the tasting room with four 4-oz. samples of each visitor's choice," the brewery says.
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