Fifty Years After It Was Destroyed in a Flood, Denver's Tivoli Brewery Will Rise Again

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When a wall of water surged through downtown Denver at around 8 p.m. on June 16, 1965, it destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and changed the course of the city's history. One of the businesses that was wrecked in the flood (the subject of this week's Westword cover story, "The 1965 Flood: How Denver's Greatest Disaster Changed the City") was the Tivoli Brewery, which had been located in the same building on what is now the Auraria Campus for more than a century. Although the brewery, which at one point was one of the largest beer-makers in the nation, continued to operate for another four years, it eventually closed in 1969.

Today, though, the ghosts of Denver's brewing past were awakened when the new Tivoli Beer Company — founded, or refounded, in 2012 by Corey and Debbie Marshall — moved several huge pieces of brewing equipment back into the old building. Among them: a lauter tun, a mashtun, which will sit right underneath the original Tivoli's original copper-plated brew kettles, and hot and cold liquor tanks.

The project was a significant milestone for Tivoli and the Marshalls, who've already acquired the rights to some of biggest beer names and trademarks from Denver's 153-year brewing past. In addition to Tivoli, they own Zang's, Sigi's, Neef's and Hi En Brau. Over the past three years, they've made a few of these beers using approximations of the original recipes at Prost Brewing, which also specializes in German-style lagers.

Last November, the Marshalls announced that Tivoli had signed a longterm lease for 8,000 square feet of space inside the old Tivoli building — which is now the student union for the entire Auraria campus — in order to open its own thirty-barrel brewery, taproom and restaurant. When the Tivoli Brewery and Taproom is complete, Metropolitan State University of Denver's Hospitality, Tourism and Events program will work with the restaurant/brewery to help train students in its beverage-management program.

Over the past few months, Tivoli has been renovating and excavating the old space, bringing back the original brickwork and wooden floors, and adding modern infrastructure that will support the brewery. The entire $7 million project is taking place in and around two massive, 250-barrel brewkettles, which have served as decoration in the building for decades. 

Once the new equipment is in place, Tivoli will begin work on the kitchen and taproom. "It will start converting rapidly after this," says Corey Marshall. The brewery is expected to open sometime in the first half of August. 

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