When Denver Beer Co. opened at 1695 Platte Street back in 2011, there were very few craft breweries within Denver city limits. But even then, founders Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford realized that things were about to change. "We were the third brewery that summer," Berger recalls, "and we were scared shitless about over-saturation."
Since then, the number of brewery taprooms in the city has grown from a mere handful to more than sixty, including a second Denver Beer Co. — the Canworks — at 4455 Jason Street (the site of the company's major packaging facility, as well as another taproom and beer garden). And now Berger and Crawford are ready to unveil their third brewery — only it's not actually in Denver. The newest Denver Beer Co. will hold its grand-opening party on Saturday, June 17, at 5768 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard in Arvada.
The spacious new brewery was built from the former Craig Chevrolet car dealership's paint-and-body garage and sports a beer garden with community tables out front, something Berger felt was important to maintaining the brand's recognizable indoor/outdoor vibe. The buildout was completed by Spectrum General Contractors and includes the original barrel roof, a gleaming Airstream trailer that houses Mighty Burger (from the owners of Lucky Pie Pizza and El Jefe), and one-of-a-kind furnishings created by Fast Industries.
The bar will eventually pour about a dozen brews, but is starting out with a few less than that. On tap tomorrow will be Water Tower Wit, a Belgian-style witbier brewed with coriander and key lime, orange and lemon peel; the beer is a tribute to Arvada's landmark water tower and will only be served at this location. Other recognizable favorites from the company's lineup include Graham Cracker Porter, the new Maui Express coconut IPA, and Rickshaw Cascara IPA, made with the dried outer skins of coffee berries. Berger jokes that he named the beer after his good friend Rick Shaw (it's actually part of the brewery's bicycle-themed lineup), and says that if your name is actually Richard Shaw, he'll buy you a pour (as long as you don't go by Dick).
Berger and Crawford opened the first Denver Beer Co. with the premise that they'd never brew the same beer twice. "We called ourselves promiscuous beer drinkers," Berger recalls, adding that the idea was to be similar to a chef who creates a changing menu rather than relying on signature dishes.
That concept worked until the Graham Cracker Porter won a medal at the Great American Beer Festival and the calls started coming in. While it was only the fourth beer they'd ever brewed, the two realized they would need to make it a regular. And now with seven canned beers on liquor-store shelves, a few more brews are part of the standard lineup, along with plenty of seasonal and one-time specials.
Colorado brewery licenses don't allow for satellite tap rooms, so each location must brew its own beer. But that's an advantage, as Berger sees it. "I'm not going to lie — there's something special about having this next to you," he says, pointing at the stainless-steel fermenters and brite tanks nestled against the far end of the Arvada bar.
While you might be able to sneak in for a beer next to all that shiny brewing equipment today, the real festivities begin at 11 a.m. on June 17 with music from local bands and a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the mayor of Arvada.
In the meantime, keep reading for more photos of the Arvada Denver Beer Co.
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.