Beer Man

Brewery Rickoli opens today as Wheat Ridge's only beer maker

Rick Abitbol, a longtime Denver-area brewer, will open his own place in Wheat Ridge today at 4 p.m., pouring a lineup of big beers with a low gluten content.

Brewery Rickoli will be the suburb's first brewery (though not its only one, once Colorado + Liquid Art Works opens next year). "Every neighborhood needs its own brewery and our primary focus is to be the neighborhood watering hole," Abitbol says.

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Abitbol, who spent eight years at Rock Bottom's south Denver location as well as some time at Renegade Brewing in Denver and elsewhere, will have five beers on tap today: Social Lubricant Scotch Ale; Hearty Rye Stout, Black Pliny Black IPA; Totally Eye-P-A and Aldo Red, a cross between an altbier and an Irish Red.

"Everybody is brewing all these funky beers, but for me, I drink half a glass and say, okay that was cool. But give me a solid IPA or a scotch ale that I can have one after another," he explains. "We want to brew beers that you can sit down and have a few."

He's got several more in the works, including a double IPA, a cream ale, a barleywine and an amber hefeweizen, in addition to what he calls an "ongoing palate project," in which he will brew the same beer each month, a pale ale, but with a different hop variety each time. "I'm going to introduce beer geeks to a single-hop beer style."

The brewery and tap room, which has 49 seats, is a longtime dream come true for Abitbol, who was able to pull the whole thing off for under $80,000. He is currently using a tiny, half-barrel brewing system, but can expand if things go well.

As for the gluten-reduced angle, Abitbol says he is using a special agent from yeast developer White Labs that binds to gluten and drops it out of the beer. His brews are all made with barley as opposed to sorghum, like gluten-free beers, but should be more tolerable to people with celiac disease, Abitbol says.

"I'm brewing for flavor and impact, and the flavor is not affected," he says.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes