Government loans and a seemingly bottomless thirst for craft beer among Coloradans has helped keep almost every existing brewery alive, while the breweries themselves have made creative changes to their business models. In fact, it could be argued that some are doing better now than before the pandemic.
And new breweries continue to open — at a pace that is steadily increasing. Over the first six months of 2021, at least fifteen breweries opened in Colorado while only three closed, according to Colorado Beer Geek, a social media personality who tracks openings and closings in partnership with the Colorado Brewery List.
In July, another seven have opened (or will open this week), and there are five more across the state with either tentative or solid plans to open in August. Colorado Beer Geek has targeted another fifteen or so that hope to start pouring beer in the next five months, although that number could certainly rise. Together they show that interest in brewing is still strong and that interest in drinking beer may be even stronger.
Here is a rundown of the seven breweries that opened in July along the Front Range:
5642 South Sycamore Street, Littleton
The founding family of Comet Brews, led by Brian Wilke, renovated the historic Comet Press print shop in downtown Littleton into a brewery that, as of its opening on July 24, serves small-batch beers that "reflect an organic and deliberate approach to brewing." The space was designed to have a vintage, old-timey feel. Comet's beers are named after family members, including Brian, Lisa, Tom, Joyce, Leslie and Karen.
Fritz Family Brewers
6778 North 79th Street, Niwot
Cory and Kelly Buenning took over the original location of Bootstrap Brewing (which is now in Longmont) last year and have just opened their own place, Fritz Family Brewers. Cory Buenning, who is the head brewer, previously worked for Snake River Brewing in Wyoming and Gravely Brewing in Kentucky. Fritz serves a variety of lagers as well as some hoppy beers. The Buennings plan to make it a family-friendly place.
Howlin Wind Brewing & Blending
51 A Main Street, Rollinsville
Located in a former mining-supplies building, Howlin Wind hosted its grand opening at the beginning of July and is the project of Melissa Nicholson and Zach Delashmit, who have both lived in the area around Nederland and Rollinsville for a while. With a variety of beers on tap, their motto is "Tradition meets innovation, art meets science. As in life, beer is a balance. This craft is a representation of who we are and this place we call home."
1604 East 17th Avenue, Denver
Nate and Lindsey McAlpine opened Reverence Brewing in the former Thirsty Monk space on July 9 with a vintage lounge theme and a focus on the neighborhood. "Reverence means respect," Lindsey told Westword in May, adding that she and Nate plan to show respect to their customers by using real ingredients rather than flavorings, and to the community by donating 1 percent of profits to various charities. They also want to make sure that Reverence is open and inviting to people of all backgrounds.
Red Leg Brewing
2323 Garden of the Gods Road, Colorado Springs
Red Leg Brewing has actually been in business in Colorado Springs since 2013 — and has won four GABF medals along the way — but the company's new project is so ambitious that it merits attention as a new brewery. The $8 million, 14,000-square-foot brewery, music venue and outdoor shipping-container food hall (which opens in the fall) near Garden of the Gods has a rooftop deck and bar with panoramic views, a four-season outdoor beer garden, and room for nearly 2,000 people.
Smash Face Brewing
1941 Market Street
This concept opened July 10 in the former Tavern Downtown building across from Coors Field and is part of a three-venue collection helmed by a Los Angeles restaurant group and a New York entertainment company. The name comes from brewery principle Joe Barker, who loves dogs and home brewing, and who decided on the name as a tribute to "smash face" dog breeds, like Boston terriers and French bulldogs. The 5,000-square-foot spot serves pizza, hot dogs, burgers and salads and is now pouring several house beers that are contract-brewed elsewhere, including Shitzu Session and Frog Dog Lager. Smash Face plans to eventually have its own brewing equipment. The business donates a portion of its sales to animal-related charities.
So Many Roads Museum & Brewery
918 West First Avenue
Located in the former Renegade Brewing/Good River Beer space in the Yard on Santa Fe, So Many Roads actually opened several months ago as a music venue and self-described Grateful Dead museum owned by Tyler Bishop and formerly associated with Jay Bianchi, who recently "retired" amid sexual assault allegations. It finally got the kettles cranking in July when longtime local brewer Tim Kane (formerly of Blue Spruce Brewing) turned out Sancho's Broken Ale.