BrewDog's First U.S. Franchise Opens in Denver April 19 | Westword

BrewDog's First U.S. Franchise Location Opens in RiNo April 19

The Scottish brand has faced controversy in recent years, but the family behind this location is excited to introduce the brewery with its own dog park to the Mile High.
BrewDog Denver opens on April 19.
BrewDog Denver opens on April 19. BrewDog Denver
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“We think that Denver is the heart of craft beer in the U.S., and we want to be part of it,” says Paloma Mondragón, general manager of BrewDog Denver, which is set to become the first U.S. franchise of the Scottish-founded brewery when it opens at noon on Friday, April 19, at 3950 Wynkoop Street in RiNo.

The venture is a family affair: Hop Dragon Holdings is the partner for the franchise, and its founder, Juan Carlos, is Paloma’s father.

Juan Carlos Mondragón has five McDonald’s franchises across Mexico, and was awarded a Golden Arch in 2017 — an achievement earned by top franchisees. Hi son, Eduardo, has an accounting background and will oversee the finances while Paloma’s husband, Elliot, has experience in public-facing roles and will helm the customer outreach and business-to-business relationships.

Paloma has experience working as a manager at BrewDog Brussels, and immersed herself in the local beverage scene by serving as a wine specialist at Carboy Winery.

The family moved to Denver before deciding to open the business. "[We love] the people; they are friendly, open, curious and have a zest for life that isn't quite the same as anywhere else we've lived," Paloma says, adding that nature, dog friendliness and the proximity to Mexico and Europe were all big positives in the family's relocation to the Mile High.

The 10,000-square-foot location will also include a large patio with a connecting dog park, as well as shuffleboard and arcade games. In addition, the brewery will host beer school tasting experiences and hold thirty taps. Along with in-house small-batch beers and the wider BrewDog beer lineup, it will offer a variety of local guest taps, including Odell, Incantation, 4 Noses, Great Divide and Left Hand.
click to enlarge RiNo brewery preview photos.
BrewDog is the latest addition to the bustling brewery neighborhood destination of RiNo.
BrewDog Denver
BrewDog Denver will have the familiar BrewDog food menu with items such as burgers, wings, salads and other pub dishes. In addition, the Mondragón family's tacos, made with both slow-cooked and marinated pork, slow-braised beef and seasoned mushrooms, will be on offer. On Wednesdays, guests who pre-book online can enjoy all-you-can-eat chicken and cauliflower wings with three different sauces.

BrewDog founder and CEO James Watt has been at the center of several controversies in recent years. In 2021, a group of former BrewDog staff called Punks With Purpose wrote an open letter to BrewDog in which they laid responsibility at the feet of Watt for a “rotten culture” and for “people left burnt out, afraid and miserable.” The letter was signed by 39 people who were current employees at the time as well as over 150 former staffers and over 100 people who chose to remain anonymous.

In 2022, a BBC documentary titled The Truth about BrewDog accused the business of purposely misleading customers, and Watt of a variety of wrongdoings. The documentary includes claims that staff witnessed Watt kissing an intoxicated customer on a rooftop bar and that female bartenders were advised on how to avoid unwelcome attention from Watt, including managers scheduling specific female staffers to avoid the CEO's visits. The program included a response from Watt's lawyers, who said that the allegations were false and that he denied behaving inappropriately. BrewDog and Watt filed a claim against BBC 1 Scotland in January 2022, complaining that the program was unfair and infringed on Watt's privacy. That claim was rejected in February this year.
click to enlarge Scottish punk themed brewpub in America.
The BrewDog food lineup includes all-you-can-eat-wings on Wednesdays and tacos made using family recipes.
BrewDog Denver
Paloma says that over the last three years of working with the BrewDog team both in the U.S. and globally, her family has had nothing but positive interactions with everyone they’ve met.

Head brewer Joseph Garvin will be helming the in-house 3.5-barrel SS Brewtech pilot brewing system. “Denver’s beer scene is so competitive, and there is no room to put out bad beer on the market,” says Garvin, who was born in Colorado. His experience in the brewing industry started in Michigan, where he was an assistant brewer at Atwater in the Park and worked in packaging at Griffin Claw Brewing. He moved to Alabama to brew at Trimtab Brewing before relocating to Minnesota, where he worked at both Fulton Brewing and Blackstack Brewing. Most recently, he worked at Cincinnati breweries Urban Artifact, Streetside and Fifty West.

With so much experience across markets, Garvin sees Denver as a sort of flagship beer market. “Denver is the scene where every brewery wants to get a foot in the door, and Colorado in general is just so great,” he says. “I look forward to pushing myself and making great brews."

Garvin plans to make a variety of beers, keeping up with trends while also making brews that he wants to drink. “My favorite style to drink is Czech lager because I love the balance of the malt, yeast and slight hop bitterness,” he says, adding that he’s been visiting Cohesion Brewing every chance he gets.

Out-of-state brewery brands have historically had mixed success in Denver. In 2023, Wisconsin’s MobCraft Beer shuttered less than eight months after opening in the Curtis Park neighborhood. AB InBev-owned 10 Barrel Brewing closed in 2022 after six years in RiNo; in 2023, the company sold off the 10 Barrel brand. Epic Brewing lasted nine years in RiNo, but struggled to find solid footing in a post-pandemic market.

Even so, outside brands are still moving into Denver. Dewey Beer, a popular Delaware brewery, recently debuted down the street from BrewDog Denver, in the former Mockery Brewing space.

BrewDog, though, is very different from those brands; it's massive, with over 100 locations worldwide. The Mondragón family certainly hopes customers will fall in love with BrewDog the way they did. “We look forward to contributing to this incredible craft beer scene while supporting local breweries, too,” Paloma concludes. 

BrewDog Denver is located at 3950 Wynkoop Street and will open at noon on April 19. After that, its regular hours will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. For more information, visit
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