Beer Man

Crazy Mountain Brewing Leaves Kalamath Street for Alpine Dog Location

Crazy Mountain Brewing Leaves Kalamath Street for Alpine Dog Location
Crazy Mountain Brewing
Like the mashed-up hybrid animals that adorn the labels of its beer, nothing is ever quite what it appears to be at Crazy Mountain Brewing. Still, the eleven-year-old company, which has been hounded by legal and business challenges since it attempted a major expansion into Denver in 2015, is once again trying to reinvent itself.

In June, Crazy Mountain shut down its 42,000-square-foot operation at 471 Kalamath Street; it now plans to move into a much smaller space at 1505 Ogden Street — a location that has been the home of Alpine Dog Brewing since 2014. Alpine Dog owner Gardiner Hammond says that he's been searching for a new location nearby and hopes to reopen somewhere in time for the brewery's annual Christmas party.

In the meantime, Crazy Mountain, which continued to brew during the pandemic but never reopened its taproom to the public after capacity restrictions ended, has outsourced the brewing of its core beer lineup to Sleeping Giant Brewing, a Denver contract brewery that makes beer for companies that don’t have their own taprooms or don't have enough production space to keep up with the demand for their beer.

click to enlarge Crazy Mountain plans to move into Alpine Dog's space. - ALPINE DOG BREWING
Crazy Mountain plans to move into Alpine Dog's space.
Alpine Dog Brewing
“We were closed longer than most other breweries because we didn’t have food,” Crazy Mountain president Barry Watkins told Westword in May, referring to an emergency state rule that allowed breweries to operate during the heart of the pandemic as long as they offered a food option, either in-house or from a nearby restaurant or truck. The brewery also had trouble getting the permitting to make modifications to the building, he added, “so we decided this was an opportunity to resize our overhead and relaunch the brand.”

While Sleeping Giant will continue to produce and can the beers that are sold at liquor stores and supermarkets, the new location will allow Crazy Mountain to brew small-batch beers in “a predictable way,” and possibly can them for to-go sales at the taproom. "It was a long road for us to figure out not just a way to assure long-term survival, but to grow," Watkins said. The change may end Crazy Mountain's out-of-state distribution, however.

According to Hammond, Crazy Mountain is currently attempting to buy Alpine Dog’s brewing equipment and setup, since it had to leave its massive brewhouse, fermentation tanks and packaging lines behind with the current owners of the Kalamath building. Hammond had been on a month-to-month lease on Ogden Street, and says that his landlord told him that Crazy Mountain's lease begins on August 1.

Watkins has declined to discuss any of these plans since initially talking with Westword in May; another Crazy Mountain representative didn't return two emails seeking comment.

Crazy Mountain Brewing has moved out of 471 Kalamath Street. - WESTWORD FILE PHOTO
Crazy Mountain Brewing has moved out of 471 Kalamath Street.
Westword file photo
The Crazy Mountain move could put an end to a 25-year history of beer-making at 471 Kalamath, which is where Breckenridge Brewery focused its Denver operations in 1996. After merging with Wynkoop Brewing Co., Breckenridge moved to a gorgeous new campus in Littleton in 2015, just before it was purchased by AB InBev. In turn, it sold the building and equipment to an entity called 471 Kalamath LLC, which is owned by businessman Steve Mooney; he leased it to Crazy Mountain.

A Mooney representative didn’t return a phone call seeking comment, but BusinessDen reported in March that 471 Kalamath LLC planned to list the building for sale for $6 million. It’s unlikely that another brewery would take the space, however, as it is old, unwieldy and very large — something that few breweries are looking for these days.

Crazy Mountain has suffered a series of missteps over the years. The company was evicted from its original home in Edwards in early 2018 because it didn’t pay the rent, then kicked out of a second location in Winter Park just a few months after opening there. Weeks later, the owners of a Crazy Mountain-branded bar in Glendale's CitySet were also evicted. At one point, the brewery, which took on a number of contract brewing clients to help fill its enormous capacity at Kalamath, opened a restaurant inside the building, but that went south after just a few months. In May 2019, the brewery's board, which represents twenty or so investors and investment groups, voted to oust founder and CEO Kevin Selvy and replace him with Watkins, a career banker.

Selvy later sued the brewery for back pay, which was first reported by BusinessDen; that case is still in court. Crazy Mountain has also been sued by Ball Arena owner Kroenke Enterprises over a sponsorship deal.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes