Bruz Beers, founded three years ago in the Midtown development in far north Denver (1675 West 67th Avenue, to be exact), will expand deep into the urban heart of the city when it opens a second location at East Colfax Avenue and York Street.
The 1,500-square-foot tap room, at 1495 York Street, won't include any brewing equipment, but it will have a back patio with a fire pit and a split-level bar space with room for 160 customers. It will pour all of the brewery's Belgian-style specialties, such as dubbels, tripels and quads — beers that have been mostly missing from America's longest, wickedest street (at least according to urban legend) since the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe closed in 2016.
"The Cheeky Monk holds a special place in my heart, and I was crushed when they closed," says Ryan Evans, who owns Bruz with business partner and head brewer Charlie Gottenkieny. Traveling in Europe in the 1990s, Evans fell in love with Belgian styles, but he couldn't find Belgian beers when he returned to Denver. "It was like a foreign language," he recalls.
So he was overjoyed in 2007 when the Cheeky Monk opened at 534 East Colfax, bringing in Belgian beers from abroad and Belgian-style beers from American craft brewers. But with the Cheeky Monk gone, Evans is shouldering the Belgian-beer load himself.
Bruz will have twenty taps at its new spot, mostly the same beers that it serves in Midtown, though there will be a few Colfax-only selections brewed in support of Denver charities and nonprofits. The decor will be similar to the mothership — white tile, dark wood and a copper bar top — but with some twists, like exposed brick and iron- and metalwork, all befitting the historic but recently renovated 1930s-era Capitol Hill building.
"The energy in that part of town is amazing. I love the density, and the more time I spend on Colfax and in the area, the more I like it," Evans says. He and Gottenkieny had planned on opening in the heart of the city when they were first looking for space four years ago, "but the rates were going up and the marijuana folks were outbidding us," he explains. "We just couldn't afford to have the square footage we needed for both production space and a taproom. So we went to Midtown, which turned out to be a perfect fit for us. It's a community that is built around the building where our brewery is, which is very European."
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Bruz has been talking with the building owner at the new location for nearly a year, Evans says, and will spend extra time to develop its patio with the architect. Situated behind the brewery, the patio space will be blocked off from the hustle and bustle of Colfax, making it "an enclave of quietness and peacefulness," according to the brewer.
The new location will not invite food trucks, however, since there are so many other food options nearby.
And speaking of nearby, Bruz is just four blocks from the Vine Street Pub & Brewery (at 1700 Vine Street) and a few more from the Thirsty Monk at East 17th Avenue and Franklin Street. It is also only about a mile from Cerebral Brewing to the east and Alpine Dog Brewing to the west, both of which are just off Colfax.
Evans says it would be fun to set up a brewery crawl of some sort in the area to take advantage of that proximity. Bruz expects to open its new location by the end of the year.