When Denver Beer Co. opened its first location in 2011, owners Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford envisioned a "chef-driven" beer menu that changed with the seasons and took its inspiration from unusual ingredients. Ten years and thousands of beers later, the brewery can now boast an actual chef who has created fun, beer-centered food at DBC's third location, which opens tomorrow (Wednesday, March 17) at 2425 South Downing Street in the Rosedale neighborhood.
In addition to the in-house kitchen, called DBC Eats, the new taproom boasts a mobile one-barrel brewing system for small-batch beers and a 10,000-square-foot tiered patio that will eventually be surrounded by a garden. This summer, the owners will add a small ice cream parlor in a separate building on the sprawling property that will encompass a lawn and play area for kids and will share tables and space with the brewery.
The opening represents a new level of growth for Denver Beer Co., which also owns popular taprooms at 1695 Platte Street, in Olde Town Arvada and at Cerveceria Colorado (which pours beers made with Mexican ingredients), along with a large production and canning facility in north Denver.
While Berger says that "growth is a goal," he points out that the South Downing taproom is in a "unique neighborhood," which made the project worthwhile. "It felt very natural," he adds.
Berger admits that he and Crawford were hesitant to get into the restaurant business, since it requires a separate set of skills from running a brewery, but that it has turned out to be more fun to plan and execute than he thought it would be. Especially during COVID, he points out, it made sense to be in control of every aspect of their customers' experience, to keep revenues in-house and to not have to rely on outside vendors, particularly food trucks, nearly as much.
"It became clear that we could really enhance all of those things by operating a kitchen," he says. "We found incredibly talented people who joined our team, and we really are excited about what they bring to the table."
DBC Eats is being run by chef Jeffrey Webb, who has cooked at restaurants all over the country and at a Michelin-starred eatery in Italy, and whose résumé includes local stints at Coohills, Fruition, Olivea, Il Posto and the Kitchen. A graduate of Denver's Cook Street School of Culinary Arts, Webb worked most recently as the executive chef at Restoration Hardware’s Manhattan and Napa Valley restaurants. The counter-service DBC Eats will offer burgers, smoked wings and Buffalo cauliflower, among many other menu items.
The brewery's beer program at its three taprooms, meanwhile, is now being led by Andy Parker, a longtime former brewer and barrel-aging specialist at Avery Brewing. Parker, who joined DBC in January, is known for helping to create beers like Avery's Uncle Jacob's Stout, Tweak, Rumpkin and numerous sour and wild ales.
The new taproom’s opening lineup includes Downing Street Dubbel, Rosedale Golden Ale, Against the Currant, Opacity Imperial Hazy IPA, Sunrise Sensei and Pot o’ Gold Blonde Irish Stout, as well as DBC's flagships. The small brewhouse, which has a number of high-tech features, is not up and running yet, but it will be soon.
Denver Beer Co. purchased the property and the building, which was previously Maddie’s Restaurant, in January 2020. Berger and Crawford had planned to open last summer, but permitting delays, along with the pandemic, slowed things down.
Between all of its locations, Denver Beer Co. produced 25,141 barrels of beer in 2020, making it among the top-fifteen largest breweries in Colorado. That number was up from the previous year, although taproom business was down significantly as a result of the shutdowns and social distancing requirements, Berger says.
Two other major Colorado breweries are also getting into the food business. Odell Brewing is opening a pizza kitchen next month in its new brewery and taproom near Sloan's Lake; this will be the first time that Odell, founded in 1989 in Fort Collins, will offer its own food. Left Hand Brewing, meanwhile, will open a restaurant in 2022 inside a new taproom being built next to the Mission Ballroom; the style of food hasn't yet been decided.
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