Colorado's skiers and snowboarders like to go big when they're on the slopes. And that's the same idea that the owners of Declaration Brewing had when the started building their brewery, which opens this weekend.
Everything is big, from the building itself and the brewhouse to the behind-the-scenes technology and the quality-control lab, to the tap list, the patio and Declaration's plans for canning and distribution.
“We're bringing a little bit of a different style to our brewery and with our marketing,” says co-owner Mike Blandford, who has been involved in the winter sports industry for years and wants to emulate that model here.
Declaration, at 2030 South Cherokee Street, will host a grand opening party today beginning at noon. The brewery hopes to have a dozen beers on tap, including a Belgian tripel, a Scotch ale, a copper ale, a stout, an oatmeal IPA, a wheat ale, a strawberry wheat and a kolsch.
But Blandford wants to have eighteen to twenty different beers going by the end of month and up to forty by the end of the year.
That's a lofty goal for a start-up brewery, but Declaration certainly has the equipment to make it happen: a twenty-barrel, four-vessel brewhouse and ten fermentation tanks totaling 250 barrels of capacity. Another three eighty-barrel fermentation tanks are on order. There is also a canning line and a kegging line, all located in the two-story, 6,000-square-foot brewery.
To help sell all of that beer, Declaration has started its own distributorship, which is unusual for a craft brewery. “I see a lot of really really great beers out there, but things are getting tight on the shelves,” he says. Some of the smaller breweries aren't able to support their sales teams very well, he adds, which is why he plans to back them up with help from his friends in the skiing and snowboarding industry.
One of the only breweries – and possibly the only one – that is a member of Snowsports Industries America (SIA), Declaration will bring “a new and different aspect to our marketing.” A biochemical engineer, Blandford has been involved in that industry; he also worked for a water filtration company and helped start a clothing line and a snowboarding website.
His fellow owners include his father, David; Paul Ogg, a molecular biologist at the Colorado School of Mines; and Greg Schlichting, an engineer. Together, they've spent a lot of time and energy and money rigging up unusual back-end equipment, like a steam-powered hot water system.
One of the most unusual things that these scientists will implement at the brewery, however, is a quality control lab. Although many larger breweries – and a few small ones – have bought equipment and implemented quality-control procedures, most new ones don't have the resources to do so.
Declaration will be the first start-up Denver brewery to open with a lab that includes a spectrophotometer, as well as other technology that will help the brewery analyze its beer and any imperfections. Eventually, the lab will also include liquid and gas chromotography machines.
In addition, Declaration has a dedicated room that will be used to propagate dozens of yeast strains. “It allows us to make sure our yeast is ultra pure and to accelerate our fermentation cycles with healthy viable yeast.
“And we are not building out this lab just for our own use,” Blandford says. “We want to run analysis for other breweries that need things done.” The goal would be to help all of Denver's breweries analyze their beers and improve the quality and consistency of what they are offering.”
As for what Declaration is offering, that will be served in a 2,000-square-foot winter sports-themed taproom that includes snowboard decks for the menu and two huge TVs. There's room for ninety people inside and another 110 in the beer garden, which won't be completely finished until this spring. There are also spaces for two food trucks on the patio.
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