Beer Man

Fermaentra Brewing opens Saturday near the University of Denver

When people walk into Fermaentra, owners Brennan Mann and Spencer O'Bryan want them to know they're in a brewery. "Otherwise, you're just in a bar in LoDo," Mann says.

That's why beer drinkers at Fermaentra, which opens its doors for the first time on Saturday, will be able to look past the taps to the seven barrel brewhouse and the six tanks beyond them -- without walls or windows to separate them from the beer-making process.

See also: Alpine Dog Brewing Will Open Saturday in Capitol Hill

Longtime homebrewers, Mann and O'Bryan decided more than two years ago "like everyone else in town, to take a leap of faith" and try their hand at brewery ownership, Mann recalls.

Since then, though, they've experienced just about every pitfall a new brewery could face -- from having to change their name (the original moniker was Halcyon Brewing, a name already taken by a beer-maker in Kansas) to an excruciating long search for the right space, to a four-month delay brought on by Xcel Energy.

But they found what they think is just the right spot -- not in LoDo, but near the University of Denver. And the delays gave them a chance to fine-tune their recipes, which they'll show off Saturday when they tap eight different beers, including a powerfully robust Russian imperial stout; a delicate, lemony Belgian blonde and a Belgian dubbel redolent of marshmallows. They'll also have a West Coast pale ale, an ale/lager hybrid, a hefeweizen, an English-style amber and a double IPA.

The lineup crosses a wide spectrum of beer styles -- and that was by design, says O'Bryan, an engineer and Denver native. "The goal wasn't to be niche-y," he explains, but to try a variety of styles in an effort to narrow down some staples. O'Bryan and Mann, who will share brewing responsibilities, also don't plan to focus on additives or other adjuncts, hoping to derive different kinds of flavors through yeast manipulation.

Manipulation is how they came up with their name as well. After having to change it once, they decided to create their own word (complete with a dipthong). Their beer names are all obscure or unusual words, like Prisma, Fluence, Terrarium, Canticle and Meristem.

With their brewery located just two blocks from DU -- on a stretch of Evans Avenue that is packed with bars, restaurants and quick-stop eateries -- O'Bryan expects to see a lot of college kids, but also residents of nearby neighborhoods. "We moved to this area because of the people who live here, not necessarily because of the college," he says.

Femaentra, which has room for about eighty people, should be open Wednesdays through Sundays and will feature food trucks on most days.

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