"I can't tell you how hard it was to find a new name. Everything I thought of was already taken," says Craig Rothgery, who plans to open De Steeg Brewing in January in the alleyway across the street from the Oriental Theater, at 4342 North Tennyson Street.
But De Steeg seems to fit: it translates from Dutch to "the alley," and since Rothgery is inspired by the Belgian brewing tradition, he went with it. "I spent a lot of time researching it online to make sure it wasn't taken," Rothgery says.
- Hops & Pie plans to build its own brewery behind the restaurant by next fall - Two new Denver breweries, Black Shirt and Our Mutual Friend, will open just for GABF - Ten new Colorado breweries are rolling out this summer; here's a rundown
A home brewer and mechanical engineer in Aurora, Rothgery worked a Nestle Foods in Denver before being laid off in April. He'd been thinking about opening his own brewery for about two years, though, and decided that the time was right.
Since his passion is brewing high-alcohol, high-gravity beers -- in the 8 to 14 percent range -- he named his concept High Gravity Brewing. And then he found out through the grapevine about a place in Louisville called Gravity Brewing that was getting set to open.
Two local breweries, 16.1 miles apart, with essentially the same name. It just wasn't going to work. So Rothgery and Gravity co-owner John Frazee sat down and talked things over. "He was apologetic and compassionate because he had just been through the process of opening," Rothgery says. "It was nice to not get lawyers involved and not to have somebody be aggressive about it. He was great, and in the end, it made sense for me to change my name."
Earlier this month, Rothgery began the demolition and renovation process in his 1,650-square-foot space, in which he plans to open a forty-seat taproom in late January. The entrance will be in the alley, but he doesn't see that as a problem.
"I'm a one-man show, so I needed a place that was small and had low rent but that was still in an awesome neighborhood," he says. Rothgery is building his 1.25-barrel brewing system himself since he has experience doing similar things and plans to use it for big bolder beers with lots of malty flavors. "I'm not making whites," he says about an wine analogy he likes to use. "I'm making full-bodied reds."
If things go well, he plans to expand into a seven-barrel brewing system.
The exiting craft beer-centered pizza restaurant, Hops & Pie, plans to open its own brewery in the fall of 2013 just four blocks away, but Rothgery thinks there will be room for both of them, as well as the nearby Hogshead and Crooked Stave breweries.
"This area is going to have a great craft beer scene," he says.
Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.