There are more than fifty breweries within Denver's city limits, but as craft beer's popularity has skyrocketed over the past few years, the number of people brewing their own beer at home has also taken off. But would-be brewers don't always have enough space in their urban apartments, condos or hipster communes for all of that brewing equipment and storage.
Which is where CO-Brew comes in. The store, which will open in May at 1133 Broadway, will serve as both a homebrew shop, brewery, classroom, taphouse and a spot where people can brew and package their own suds.
It's a scenario that CO-Brew owners Jamie and Janna Williams are familiar with. “We live in a condo off Colfax and we're lucky to have a large patio,” Janna says. “But we wondered how many other people don't.”
The store, which the couple has been planning for a long time, will have brewing supplies and ingredients – more than fifty kinds of grains, along with numerous hops varieties and yeast strains – up front and four computerized, twenty-gallon brewing systems in the back.
Customers can use one of hundreds of recipes on CO-Brew's recipe software system or bring in one of their own, says Jamie, who was an Audi mechanic for 25 years before deciding to follow his passion for beer.
Brewing a ten-gallon batch costs $180, while a twenty-gallon batch will be about $340. Although it helps to have had some experience brewing, customers don't need it, says Jamie, who will help them set up and complete the brew – and even clean up. A few weeks after the brew, the customers can return to bottle or keg the beer – or have CO-Brew do it more them, with custom labels or caps. “They don't have to do much,” he explains.
Which is fine since the Williamses are hoping that people will use the spot for brewing parties – the optimal number of people per system is four – where they can watch games on the flat screen TVs and drink some of the six beers that Jamie will brew himself there and serve on tap. Those will include an amber, a British pale ale, a stout and a single-hop IPA.
In fact, CO-Brew is unusual in the state because it received permission to be both a manufacturing brewery and a retail store.
The Williamses are hoping to open in early May.