Breckenridge Brewing will build a new, ten-acre campus in the metro area

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Breckenridge Brewery has outgrown its Denver headquarters.

The city's biggest beer maker is planning to build a brand-new, 125,000-square-foot brewery, tasting room, restaurant and visitors center on ten acres in the metro area. The estimated $15 million project would ennable the company to make 100,000 barrels of beer per year from the outset, and as much as 200,000 barrels down the road.

"I have four more 300-barrel tanks coming in here today," Breckenridge operations manager and brewmaster Todd Usry says of Breckenridge's longtime headquarters at 471 Kalamath Street. "And that will max this place out."

The brewery, which is now owned by the same holding company that controls the Wynkoop Brewing Company and its associated restaurants, has undergone double-digit sales and production growth over the past three years. Breckenridge will make close to 60,000 barrels of beer this year, up from 41,000 in 2011 and 31,000 in 2010. But Usry projects that Breckenridge will brew at least 80,000 barrels next year and up to 130,000 barrels in 2015. "We are doing 300 barrels a day right now, which is about a 75,000 barrel clip already," he says.

Founded in the ski town of the same name in 1990, Breckenridge opened a second brewery at 2200 Blake Street in Denver in 1992. The company moved that operation to Kalamath Street four years later, but still runs the Blake Street restaurant.

One proposed location for the new facility would be next to Tipsy's Liquor World at the intersection of C-470 and West Bowles Avenue, says state Representative Jim Kerr, who has been working with Breckenridge and Jefferson County on the move.

Kerr, whose district includes Littleton but not the proposed site, says the brewery, its well-known name and its thirty to sixty jobs would be a boon to the area.

Usry doesn't want to discuss any location specifics, but acknowledges that Jefferson County is in the mix, as are Denver, Littleton and other possibilities.

Kerr is also working on legislation that would allow brewpubs -- businesses that operate breweries and restaurants on the same site -- to increase the amount of beer they make from 60,000 to 300,000 barrels per year without changing their business model.

Breckenridge is currently the only Colorado brewery that's maxed out under the law. Other large brewery/restaurants -- like Oskar Blues, Rock Bottom, and Mountain Sun -- operate under different arrangements and with different licenses.

The success or failure of that legislation, which Kerr hopes to introduce next week, could affect Breckenridge's plans to some degree. But Usry says he still hopes to begin construction on a new facility by the end of this year. In fact, he is already meeting with manufacturers in order to buy all new equipment.

When that happens, he'd like to sell the Kalamath location -- lock, stock and giant barrels -- to another brewery, possibly even one from out of state. Because of the shortage of used brewery equipment, he thinks there could even be a bidding war for the facility.

Breckenridge isn't the only Colorado brewery looking to make a major move. Boulder's Avery Brewing is planning to relocate to a 5.6 acre campus in a different part of town, where it will build a new facility and restaurant; Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora and Longmont's Oskar Blues are also scouting out new locations.

And New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins announced that it will build a second major brewing operation in Asheville, North Carolina, by 2015, joining California-based Sierra Nevada Brewing, which is also also building a huge second facility in that state.

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