Declaration Brewing, a snowsports-themed Denver brewery that went for big air when it opened in 2015, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in United States District Court. The January 13 filing comes just a week after Declaration was sued by its landlord, BaseCamp Brew LLC, over unpaid rent.
Declaration listed $895,000 in debts and nearly $511,500 in assets, including its brewing equipment. The largest creditor is Rees Davis and Partners. Davis is the managing director of BaseCamp Capital, a private equity firm that invests in real estate projects, small businesses and other ventures in Colorado. Earlier in December, BaseCamp sued Declaration, saying that the brewery owed $30,000 in rent, as first reported by BusinessDen.
The bankruptcy filing will allow Declaration Brewing to continue operating while it works through the process, with the goal of paying off its creditors. It's a difficult strategy; in late 2018, Fate Brewing in Boulder filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as well, and with a similar goal. But Fate ended up closing in May 2019.
Declaration opened in February 2015 with a twenty-barrel, four-vessel brewhouse and ten fermentation tanks totaling 250 barrels of capacity — a huge investment for a small brewery. It also operated a canning line, a kegging line, a lab and other equipment in its two-story, 6,000-square-foot building.
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The brewery was co-founded by Greg Schlichting, the head brewer, and Michael Blandford, who is by far the largest shareholder according to the bankruptcy filing. A biochemical engineer by training, Blandford had worked in the ski and snowboard industry and planned to use those connections in his marketing efforts. He also invested in or built some top-line technology, including a spectrophotometer, a high-value piece of equipment that he wanted to loan out or rent to other breweries to help them with quality control. An enormous patio and mural grace the outside of the brewery, while the inside is decorated with snowboards.
Later, after Declaration began canning and distributing its beers, it also made plans to sell them in other states and rebranded its taproom as Preamble, to separate it from the brewery concept.
But in early 2018, Declaration sold its building for $2.5 million to BaseCamp Brew, a part of BaseCamp Capital, which then signed the brewery to a 25-year lease, according to BusinessDen. The goal at the time was to bring the investor in as a partner and to expand the brewery, Blandford told the website.
Blandford didn't respond to an email seeking comment.