Since founding Casey Brewing & Blending in 2014, owner Troy Casey has focused primarily on the "Blending" part of his company's name. Casey makes his wort — unfermented beer — at other mountain breweries, including Bonfire, Roaring Fork and Capital Creek, then trucks it back to Glenwood Springs, where he ages it in a variety of wooden barrels with wild yeasts and bacteria strains. He then blends the barreled beer, often with Colorado fruit. The results are sour and wild beers that people will wait in line for hours to get.
Later this year, though, Casey will begin brewing his own wort on a seven-barrel system that should give him a chance to spend more time making beer and less time driving mountain roads.
"We always wanted our own brewhouse, but for a long time we didn't know where it was going to be," Casey explains. He figured it would have to be in a separate building from the one he currently leases at 3421 Grand Avenue, in Glenwood. But after an offer for a second building fell through, Casey asked himself, "Why am I trying to make this so complicated?" — and decided to squeeze the brewery into his existing space.
"We have room. The bigger concern for me was the flooring. In order to put a brewery in, we need to redo a third of our floor," he says. So he worked with the landlord on the change and added five years to his lease.
The change is similar to one that Denver's Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project made last year when it began brewing wort on its own system before blending its barrel-aged sours.
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The new system will be delivered in March, allowing Casey and Eric Metzger to brew twice a week if they need to and to keep their barrels full at all times. "I'm excited to get back on the brew deck," Casey says.
The change doesn't mean that Casey Brewing will produce more beer — the 2018 plan is to repeat 2017's production of fewer than 1,000 barrels — but rather that the company will be able to make it more efficiently. (And Casey says he doesn't plan to make any "clean" beer, which is the word people use for non-sour or -wild ales.) He also plans to add an open-topped fermentation vessel, known as a coolship, at the end of 2018 for spontaneous ales.
The brewery, which has always had very limited visiting hours, has also changed the way it handles public access to the brewery. Beginning in January, it will only be open on the first and third weekends (Thursday through Sunday) of each month, and the only way to get in is to buy a tour package.
The packages, which are around $20, include a flight of three four-ounce pours and a private tour of the cellar. Guests can also buy bottles of available beers for on-site consumption or to go. Each tour (there will be two or three per day) accommodates up to 24 guests. Glenwood Springs is a long drive from Denver, so plan ahead if you're thinking of making a Casey pilgrimage.