Beer Man

Denver's Blue Moon Will Open a Second Pilot Brewery, This One in River North

Twenty years after Coors opened what would become Blue Moon Brewing inside Coors Field, the company says it plans to open a second brewery about a mile away in the burgeoning River North arts district.

Located in a 27,000-square-foot warehouse at 1910 38th Street – near Globeville Landing Park – the brewery will include a tasting room, tours and indoor and outdoor events space, says Blue Moon founder Keith Villa. It is slated to open sometime in 2016.

“Right now, it's a blank canvas,” says Villa, who has always used painting metaphors when talking about Blue Moon's beers. “Our tagline is 'artfully crafted”... so when we saw this piece of property available in the arts district, it was a natural fit.”

The location will include two brewhouses: a small, two-barrel system and larger, twenty- to thirty-barrel system that will be used to design beers for Blue Moon's line. There will likely also be a packaging line of some sort. “The Sandlot is a teeny, tiny cramped space, and we just needed a bigger place to try out these experimental beers,” Villa says.

The original Sandlot will continue to operate as well, although it will focus on the German-style lagers that the brewers there specialize in and have won dozens of awards for over the years.

When it first opened in late 1995, some of Blue Moon's first beers were Squeeze Play Wheat, Power Alley Extra Special Bitter, Right Field Red Ale, Slugger Stout and Belly Slide Belgian White.

Belly Slide later became Blue Moon Belgian White, a huge hit, and is now distributed in mass quantities all over the country. MillerCoors will continue to produce those beers at its various plants around the nation.

The new location in River North is notable because the area has become the beating heart of Denver's craft beer scene with nearly ten breweries located within blocks of each other.

The Boulder-based Brewers Association and Coors have been at odds with one another over the past decade over the issue of what defines “craft” beer. The BA believes Blue Moon doesn't count since it is owned by Coors and has repeatedly asked Coors to let people know that on its beer labels.

Villa says he's more focused on making good beer than he is on definitions, and points out that Blue Moon helped to usher in the era of craft beer by opening people's tastebuds up to new things in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes