The owners of Counter Culture Brewery & Grille like to do things differently, but not because they're ardent believers in a counterculture lifestyle. Rather, they believe in culture created by the kind of counter where you can get a great burger and a beer brewed on site. On Saturday, that counter opened for business.
In the works for more than a year, Counter Culture Brewery is located on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Sherman Street, along the dynamic, oft-changing restaurant row that includes Mizuna, Daikon, Tacos Tequila Whiskey, Max's Wine Dive, Benny's Cantina, the Vesper Lounge and Lou's Food Bar.
It's a high-rent, high-foot-traffic locale, and the perfect spot for a brewery run by two beer-industry veterans, Kevin McCrossin and Justin Martinez, who wanted to bring something different to the city's craft-beer scene.
"There haven't been a lot of breweries opening with kitchens over the last handful of years, and most breweries who do serve food open as a full-service brewpub-style restaurant," McCrossin explains. "We are trying to maintain more of a taproom-style environment with a kitchen. That is why we have chosen a more casual style of service, with beer and food ordered directly from the bar and counter."
Like many other breweries with food, Counter Culture will open at 11 a.m. every day for lunch. "Many breweries find that it is not worth opening on weekdays before 3 p.m., but we hope our kitchen will allow us to run longer hours," he adds. "And I just enjoy the food side of the business. I love pairing beer and food."
At the moment, Counter Culture only has one beer on tap, an English pale, since the owners had to wait for longer than expected to get their brewing license and other permits. But there are two more, a porter and an American IPA, in the tanks. "The goal is to get our six serving tanks filled and throw a party to open the brewery," McCrossin says, rather than releasing them one by one.
In the meantime, the owners are keeping their taps pouring with a few guest beers. Counter Culture is also serving its full food menu, which includes a variety of stacked burger and chicken sandwiches, along with salads and wings.
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The atmosphere inside Counter Culture is also one that lends itself to a relaxing lunch spot during the day and a cozy taproom at night; huge windows and garage doors look out on Seventh Avenue, helping make the smallish space seem bigger. In addition, the brewery houses a ten-hectoliter brewhouse, as well as a clearly visible two-level set of custom brewery tanks that add an eye-catching setup behind the bar.
McCrossin and Martinez met fifteen years ago when they both worked at Mountain Sun Brewery in Boulder. Over the years, they have both remained in the industry. McCrossin most recently worked for both Joyride Brewing and the Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project, while Martinez was with Denver Beer Tours.
Counter Culture Brewery + Grille is located at 205 East Seventh Avenue. Call 970-481-0206 or visit the brewery's Facebook page for more details.