Tom Martinez has plenty of faith.
Faith in his religion; faith after losing his eyesight a few years ago that he’d be able to brew beer; faith that he would one day be able to find the right spot to open the brewery he had always envisioned, even while blind. His faith paid off earlier this month when Martinez and his wife, Lynn, took over the 5,000-square-foot taproom and gorgeous outdoor beer garden that houses Littleton’s Saint Patrick’s Brewing, which opened in 2014.
“I feel fortunate," says Martinez, who worked for the Coors Distribution Company for twelve years before suffering health problems in late 2016 that resulted in him losing his sight. “I had no breweries then, and now I have two.”
In 2017, the Martinezes and their friend Ken Klispie bought DeSteeg Brewing, located in an alley off Tennyson Street, from its founder, Craig Rothgery. They continued to brew DeSteeg’s beers there, but Martinez also created the Blind Faith brand inside DeSteeg, with the idea of opening it as a separate entity one day.
That day came very quickly. Last June, Martinez met Saint Patrick’s owner Chris Phelps at a 5K race and beer tasting hosted by the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado; they were both serving their beer there. “I’m a good Catholic, so I like St. Patrick," Martinez jokes. “We hit it off very quickly."
A few weeks later, Phelps called Martinez and said he was interested in selling his brewing equipment and
the lease to the taproom.
Since then, the Martinezes have taken over Saint Patrick's and are operating it under a management agreement. They won't be able to rename it or rebrand it, however, until they get approval from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates liquor licenses — and they won't be able to even talk to the TTB until the government shutdown ends, because the agency is currently furloughed.
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But they have put a few Blind Faith beers on tap there and are making plans to retrofit the brewhouse so that Martinez will be able to operate the brewery even though he can't see. Once the transition takes place, Martinez will continue to make the Trappist-style ales and lagers that he had been brewing out of DeSteeg — many of which have names that play on sight and blindness, such as Double-Vision Dubbel and Third Eye Tripel.
Phelps, meanwhile, is keeping the Saint Patrick's name and four of its recipes (he sold the others to Martinez) so that he can begin contract brewing them at Sleeping Giant Brewing in Denver; Sleeping Giant brews beers for other breweries that don't have the space to do it themselves. He plans to sell those four canned flagships to Safeway and King Soopers stores now that every grocery store in Colorado is allowed to sell full-strength beer.
"I think people will follow that business model — getting rid of their taproom and going strictly wholesale," says Martinez. But not him. "This is a premier location. I'm not bragging, but it is the best beer garden around."
Located next to Lucile's Creole Cafe at 2852 Bowles Avenue, Saint Patrick's — soon to be Blind Faith — includes a seven-barrel brewing system and sixteen fermenters. It has room for eighty people inside, but the real gem is the expansive patio and beer garden overlooking the South Platte Greenway.