Beer Man

Casita Brewing Will Bring Oaxacan Flavors to Aurora's Stanley Marketplace

Denver’s eastern neighborhoods, starved for the kind of hip eateries and bars that seem to open on a weekly basis on the west side, are salivating over the impending arrival of the Stanley Marketplace, which is scheduled to open March 31 in the former Stanley Aviation Building southeast of Stapleton, in Aurora. The 140,000-square-foot development is slated to include everything from Comida and Rosenberg’s Bagels to Denver Biscuit Co., GoodBird Kitchen and dozens of other restaurants, stores and small businesses

And now, it will also include what has become Denver’s signature: a brewery taphouse.

Casita Brewing, owned by Javier Pérez Koch and Jennifer Pérez, will serve ten to twelve beers in a two-story space that will be designed to have the look, feel and flavor of a 500-year-old home in Oaxaca, Mexico. Although Javier, an emergency-room doctor, has been home-brewing for nearly 25 years, he and Jennifer, a school counselor, have hired a professional brewer to handle the beer-making: Brian Arnold, formerly of Epic Brewing and Flying Dog.

Using a ten-barrel system, Casita, at 2501 Dallas Street, plans to brew ales and lagers that fuse the German/Mexican style with flavors from the cuisine of Oaxaca, where Javier's parents were born. That could include ingredients from entrees, pastries and other desserts, including tropical fruits and indigenous plants and chiles. They might even incorporate Mexican candy. “We will have an IPA and a stout and a porter and an amber, the beers that people know and like. But for people who are more adventurous, our flagships will be these fusion beers,” Javier says. Although he didn’t want to release too much information about the recipes, he notes that customers can expect to see one brewed with hibiscus flowers and one aged in mezcal barrels.

"We have a friend whose family for generations has owned an agave farm and mezcal distillery in Oaxaca," Javier says. "He is selling us mezcal barrels for aging. Mezcal is made from agave, and the heart of the agave is the pina, which gives off off a smoky, roasted flavor. It's much different than bourbon, whiskey and wine barrels."  One of his ancestors started a chocolate facility in 1867 in Mexico and invented a machine for extracting cacao pods, he adds; Casita will have the blueprints of that machine on the wall and customers can also expect to find a beer brewed with freshly-roasted cacao beans. 

The couple would like to team up with some of the other businesses inside the Stanley. For instance, they’d like to make a coffee-infused beer with the coffee shop in the project, Logan House, and a gluten-free beer for members of a yoga studio.

Javier says that he and Jennifer had been looking for a long time for something entrepreneurial to do together, and one day, Jennifer looked at his homebrewing equipment in the garage and suggested a brewery. After that, Jennifer contacted the City of Aurora because she had seen an article that said economic development officials were looking to encourage tap rooms. Later they heard about the Stanley development and, working with Aurora, were able to come up with an arrangement for a location.

There are very few breweries in the area. The closest ones would be Station 26 and Caution Brewing in Denver, and Coda, Mu and Dry Dock in Aurora. "We used to run by the Stanley when we lived in Stapleton and we always said we thought it would be a cool spot for a brewery," Javier says. "And we wanted to be in an area that was wanting and wanting for craft breweries."

Casita Brewing will be able to seat approximately 140 people, divided between the ground-floor space and a mezzanine. The owners hope to begin construction in December, start brewing in January, and be open for business in March or April.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes