Head brewer Jimmy Walker says the brewery will stay put while the situation is litigated in court, where Breckenridge Brewery filed suit against Breckenridge Brewery Real Estate, or BBRE, earlier this month. BBRE is co-owned and managed by brewery founder Richard Squire and his family.
"The bummer is still the uncertainty, but the beer must go on," Walker says. Breckenridge Brewery employs sixty to eighty people at the mountain brewery, including several who have been with the company more than twenty years.
Squire, who turned over the majority of the brewery to his investors in the mid-1990s and has been involved in a variety of business ventures in Colorado since then, confirmed that the pub will stay open for now.
But Squire told Westword that there was never a final deal, adding that he didn't think Breckenridge Brewery should be run by a Belgium-based conglomerate like A-B InBev. "I personally believe that the brewery needs to go back into the hands of the locals — back to the people," he said earlier this month. Squire didn't say whether or not that meant he had his own plans to open a brewery or restaurant in the space.
In its lawsuit, the brewery claims that the two sides had reached a five-year lease agreement after Richard Squire's brother, Steven, accepted the terms, and wrote, "I want to thank you for your efforts in negotiating this matter to a favorable conclusion for both parties."
Sometime after that, however, BBRE decided not to renew after all, leaving the brewery in a difficult position. "Based on Landlord’s representations, the Brewery did not search for a new location to relocate its business and/or operations and continued to operate at and invest in the Premises as if it would be permitted to remain for at least another five year term," the lawsuit states, adding that "it will be impossible for the Brewery to locate a new premises to relocate to prior to July 1, 2019." As a result, "the Brewery will suffer from loss of income, and other irreparable harm to the Brewery’s reputation, business and operations." The brewery is asking for damages in excess of $100,000.
Whatever happens, Walker says A-B InBev has committed to keeping a presence in Breckenridge. "You can't have a Breckenridge Brewery without having a brewery in Breckenridge," he says.