Beer Man

Cerebral Brewing Goes Big With New Production Space, Second Taproom in Aurora Arts District

Sean Buchan says Cerebral was maxed out.
Sean Buchan says Cerebral was maxed out. Jonathan Shikes
Cerebral Brewing, which has made a name for itself as one of Denver's best breweries over the past six years, will open a huge new production facility and barrel cellar in Aurora sometime this fall, and then an adjoining second taproom, complete with a second-story mezzanine, sometime in 2022 or 2023.

Located in an 18,000-square-foot former furniture warehouse and store at 9990 East Colfax Avenue, the new spot is four miles east of Cerebral's existing taproom at Colfax and Monroe Street, right next to the historic Fox Theatre, and in the heart of the Aurora Cultural Arts District.

Once it's up and running, the space will include a brand-new three-vessel, fifteen-barrel brewhouse, several fermenters and brite tanks, and at least 300 oak barrels for aging beer. In addition, Cerebral will move its canning line and two enormous wooden foeders into the building. The foeders, which are large oak vessels, are used to age sour and wild ales along with Cerebral's lagers.

"We've always been drawn to Aurora," says Cerebral co-owner and head brewer Sean Buchan, who was born in Aurora and got his doctorate in physical therapy at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus nearby. "We'd been searching for the better part of a year and a half."


The brewery was able to buy the building in April, something that sets it apart from many other beer makers who typically have to rent space. It has been quietly remodeling since then.

Buchan says Cerebral had already been nearing its brewing capacity before the pandemic, but that the demand for canned beers during the lockdowns and afterward maxed it out. So the added capacity will allow Cerebral to keep some of its flagships, like Rare Trait IPA and Muscle Memory Pale Ale, in stock in cans all the time. It will also mean more and better sales of kegs and cans to liquor stores, bars and restaurants, and a bigger supply of the barrel-aged stouts that people line up to buy.

"But it will be slow growth at the start," notes Buchan, adding that the brewery will produce 2,700 barrels of beer this year. "We won't be hitting the ground running at 10,000 barrels."
click to enlarge The big barrel roof will allow for a second-story mezzanine. - JONATHAN SHIKES
The big barrel roof will allow for a second-story mezzanine.
Jonathan Shikes
Once the new system is online, Cerebral will use its existing ten-barrel system for experimental draft-only beers — primarily IPAs — that will be served at the taproom on Colfax and Monroe. "It will give us the ability to do things not suited for packaging, or that we want to develop into packaged beer," he explains.

In the first quarter of 2022, Cerebral will open the new location for sales of to-go beer only, most likely with limited hours, based on an online ordering system.

Eventually, Buchan plans to add a large, L-shaped taproom looking out onto both Colfax and Florence Street, as well as a second-story mezzanine with room for about sixty people. The high, sweeping barrel roof and steel trusses (still bearing the 1950s-era Denver Steel Company name) lend themselves to a second story, Buchan adds. A huge cold room will sit underneath the mezzanine.

Although the Aurora Cultural Arts District has had trouble making waves, the city has been putting more effort into bringing new businesses to the area, and Buchan says there are a number of great nearby spots for food and beverages — including Baba & Pops pierogi shop and Lady Justice Brewing, which opened a year and a half ago just down the street — and that he's looking forward to seeing more. 
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes