Beer Man

Cerebral Brewing Will Go Back to the Lab When it Opens Next Year on Colfax

The beer boom on "the longest, wickedest street in America" will continue next year when Cerebral Brewing opens at the corner of Colfax Avenue and Monroe Street. Owners Sean Buchan, Chris Washenberger and Dan McGuire signed a lease this week for a space in a former Galaxie auto body shop, which is being redeveloped into a small restaurant complex.

Located across from the newish Sprouts Farmers Market development, Cerebral will feature a ten-barrel brewing system from Portland Kettle Works, a 4,000 square-foot space with a patio, and Belgian- and English-inspired brews.

See also: Fiction Beer Opens On Colfax With Craft Brews and a Bar Made of Books

But unlike most start-up breweries that have opened their doors over the past three years, Cerebral will incorporate a lab and a quality-testing program into its operations from day one. "A microscope was one of the first pieces of equipment we bought," says Buchan, an award-winning homebrewer with a background in biology.

"It's important to meet some kind of quality standard," adds Washenberger, a molecular biologist who also founded the Denver Homebrew Club in 2010. "All of the big guys do it, and we've learned from the broader brewing industry that taking these steps is critical."

A few small breweries in Colorado have recently brought some science into their processes, including Black Shirt and TRVE, and many of the larger ones incorporate scientific standards. But over the past year, the Boulder-based Brewers Association has repeatedly urged all breweries to get on board, saying that inexperienced brewers making poor quality beer could jeopardize the industry's success.

With their scientific background, Buchan and Washenberger want to make quality one of their hallmarks -- and idea that carries through in their name. "This is an academic pursuit," Washenberger says. "The name Cerebral embodies everything we want to create, and our approach to beer."

Buchan and Washenberger first discussed their idea for a brewery in early 2013 while having beers at Star Bar. From the beginning, Washenberger had his eye on the Galaxie site -- just a few blocks from his old home. And both were hoping to find a location on the east side of town, where there aren't nearly as many breweries. "From a business standpoint, we wanted to go into an area other than River North, where there are fifteen other breweries," says Buchan, who had also seen the vacant auto body shop during his hunt for a location.

Eventually, the space went up for lease and the two owners, along with McGuire, who was Buchan's college roommate, pounced on it; it sits close to several neighborhoods that have few or no breweries, including Congress Park, Mayfair and Park Hill.

Colfax, which at 26 miles is considered to be the longest main street in America, was once described by Playboy as "the wickedest" as well. But for all of that sin, there were no craft breweries along the avenue until June, when Mu Brewery opened at 9735 East Colfax, in Aurora.

Mu was followed by Fiction Brewing, at 7101 East Colfax, and Lost Highway, at 520 East Colfax, which both turned on the lights in September. A fourth brewery, Alpine Dog, plans to open in November at 1505 Ogden Street, just off Colfax, in part of a former record and CD store.

Cerebral's address will be 1477 Monroe Street, although the building fronts Colfax; the craft-brewer will share the space with two as-yet unnamed eateries. Renovation should begin soon, and Buchan and Washenberger hope to take possession of their space next spring and open sometime next summer.

When they do, Buchan says they'd like to have five beers on tap: a pale ale, an IPA, a Belgian single, an English brown ale and an oatmeal milk stout.

"We'll also be doing quite a few Saison/farmhouse ales and other mixed fermentation beers from the start," he says. "The goal is to have the five aforementioned beers on tap as often as possible and go off the cuff for the rest of them, giving our customers something they know will be there, while allowing them to expand their palates with new and interesting flavors."

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