Is Denver's brewery boom slowing down? It's hard to tell: While there certainly aren't as many small independent breweries on the horizon as there were at this time last year, there is still plenty of action on the new-brewery front. The list of anticipated openings in 2016 include three breweries that had hoped to get the doors open in 2015, as well as two that are owned by mega-brewing corporate entities, one that had to change locations, two that are taking over other breweries' spots, and a few that are brand-new.
That's a lot of activity – and it doesn't include planned expansions at many of Denver's beer makers, which now number close to sixty (although not all of these have tap rooms). It also doesn't include the suburbs, where there are at least ten more breweries planned for Arvada, Aurora, Centennial, Castle Rock, Lakewood, Englewood, Golden and Thornton.
Here are the breweries that are planning to open in Denver in 2016, presented alphabetically.
Banded Oak Brewing
The rapid-fire opening of small brewery tap rooms may have slowed down in Denver a bit, but don't tell that to former Great Divide employees Will Curtin and Chris Kirk, who leased a tiny former auto-body shop on Broadway where they will open a brewery dedicated to barrel-aged beers. Located within two blocks of two other breweries, Banded Oak will include a very large patio and is right next door to an under-construction Dae Gee and other eateries. Curtin, who was Great Divide's tap room manager, and Kirk, who has a professional brewing background, want to start off with five beers and eventually expand to ten on tap at all times.
Blue Moon Brewery/Coors
1910 38th Street
Opening: The second half of 2016
The guys who brought you the Sandlot at Coors Field in 1995 – oh, and that little Coors subsidiary, Blue Moon – are opening their own 27,000-square-foot restaurant and brewery in River North. The brewery portion will feature both a twenty-barrel brewing system and a two-barrel system for experimentation. There will also be twenty to thirty tap lines, along with a stage for live music and an outdoor patio area.
10 Barrel Brewing/AB InBev
2620 Walnut Street (tentative)
Opening: First half of 2016
10 Barrel Brewing, the Bend, Oregon-based brewery that was purchased by AB InBev — maker of Budweiser — in November 2014, plans to open a brewery and pub in Denver this year in River North, the Denver neighborhood known for its plethora of independent craft brewers. Founded in 2006 by brothers Chris and Jeremy Cox and Garrett Wales, 10 Barrel boasts a well-regarded brewing team who have made a number of award-winning beers over the years. 10 Barrel hasn't confirmed the above location but did say, "We’re super-stoked to announce we’ll start building shortly and that we will be brewing in Denver in the first half of 2016."
2875 Blake Street
Opening: First half of 2016 (tentative)
Former Prost and Dry Dock Brewers Bill Eye and Ashleigh Carter have teamed up with Chris Rippe, owner of the Rackhouse Pub, on Bierstadt Lagerhaus, a German-style brewery (complete with an 82-year-old, 35-barrel copper brewing system from Germany) that should open this year in the Bindery on Blake building in River North. The building also houses C Squared Cider, owned by former Wynkoop head brewer Andy Brown, and the Rackhouse, which will serve as the de facto tasting room for both Bierstadt and C Squared. The Rackhouse opened in late 2015 in the building; the owners had hoped to open Bierstadt last year as well, but suffered some delays.
12445 East 39th Avenue, Unit 314
Opening: Late Spring
The Brewability Lab, a startup brewery with the novel idea of providing jobs in the brewing industry for adults with developmental disabilities, will take over Caution Brewing's original location in east Denver sometime later this year (Caution is consolidating at its Lakewood tap house). The Brewability Lab will also get Caution's five-barrel brewing system, the grain mill, canning line, bar, glassware, tap system and other equipment, says Brewability founder Tiffany Fixter. The head brewer will be Toby Gerard, a longtime home brewer who has also worked with developmentally disabled adults. He plans to make an IPA, a cream ale, an oatmeal stout, a saison and a Belgian dark strong ale, in addition to other beers.
Briar Common Brewery + Eatery
2298 Clay Street
Opening: Late spring or early summer
A longtime dream for brothers Kent and Greg Dawson, who grew up in Portland, Briar Common will open sometime this year in Jefferson Park. The spot will include a full kitchen, and Kent Dawson says the plan is to attract the locals. "We want to contribute to what is already a great neighborhood," he says. "The basic concept is that we want this to be a neighborhood walk-up destination." The Dawsons plan to focus on classic beer styles — "a less-is-more approach," Kent says — that pair well with food. The building renovation, which is being done by architect David Berton, includes plans for rooftop seating overlooking the neighborhood's namesake park. The Dawsons had hoped to open in 2015 but ran into a number of delays related to zoning and construction.
1675 West 67th Avenue
Ryan Evans liked home brewer Charlie Gottenkieny's beers so much when he first tried them several years ago that he offered to invest in a brewery if Gottenkieny ever opened one. That partnership will come to fruition this year when the pair opens Bruz, a 4,700-square-foot brewery focusing on Belgian-style beers, inside a new housing development called Midtown. Technically, Bruz is located in unincorporated Adams County, but it has an official Denver address, so it's on this list.
Crazy Mountain Brewery
471 Kalamath Street
Crazy Mountain, which was founded in Edwards in 2010, took over the Breckenridge Brewery’s former headquarters in August and has been working on opening a tap room ever since. There are also plans to open a barbecue joint in cooperation with Beaver Creek’s Group970 Restaurants. The forty- to fifty-seat eatery will offer counter service at lunch and table service at dinner; customers who want to get growler fills or buy bottles of Crazy Mountain beer to go will be able to visit a “speakeasy” next door to the restaurant, which will also be used for special events and tours. That room will be run by Crazy Mountain rather than Group970, under a different liquor license.
2403 Champa Street
Well-known Italian brewer and restaurateur Alex Liberati has fallen in love with Denver over the years, so after he closed his operations in Italy, he landed in the Mile High City. Liberati will fill the former Golden Bell Press building in Curtis Park with a nine-barrel brewing system – focused on beers with Italian ingredients and flair – and a restaurant featuring Italian street food. He hopes to start work on the building soon and be open by December, but that might be pushed back to 2017.
River North Brewery
6021 Washington Street
After being forced to shut down in October to make way for luxury condos at the site of their original brewery, the powers-that-be behind River North, which had opened in 2011, have been furiously readying a new brewery in north Denver. Although it will primarily serve as a production facility, pumping out kegs, bottles and cans, the location is scheduled to include a sixteen-handle tap room that will serve as a public face – at least until River North can find a new tap-room location, hopefully in RiNo.
3610 West Colfax Avenue
When they open Seedstock Brewery, brothers Ron and Jason Abbott plan to focus on the kinds of beers that their great-grandparents, who came to the United States from Czechoslovakia in the late 1800s, would have liked: Bohemian dunkels, altbiers, Czech-style pilsners. But they also plan to brew for updated American tastes.
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.