Breckenridge Brewery rolled out its latest restaurant last week: The Farm House in Littleton. With about 8,000 square feet, seating for nearly 300 people inside and a couple hundred more seats in on the patios and in beer garden, the Farm House instantly becomes one of southwest suburban Denver's biggest restaurant attractions. Don't worry about finding the place; although it's tucked away on a multi-acre parcel of land that was once a carnation farm and a tree nursery close to the Platte River, a new intersection and traffic light were added on Santa Fe Drive. Just look for Brewery Lane, which skirts the northern edge of the state-of-the-art new brewery and deposits visitors in a parking lot next to the Farm House.
Inside, lofty ceilings supported by exposed joists give the open bar and dining rooms a relaxed and airy feel; plenty of windows let in sunlight and offer unimpeded views of parkland, bike trails, the river and the Rocky Mountains beyond. The design was largely the work of Breckenridge-Wynkoop concept director Lisa Ruskaup, who has captured a homey, farmhouse essence while adding modern, eclectic touches for both function and visual appeal. Towering racks of glassware above the bar raise and lower on a pulley system to give bartenders access, while hidden beer lines link to taps at multiple locations in the building: a growler-filling station up front, the main bar in the center of the action, pouring stations for servers near the kitchen, and a two-tap "Man Cave" where a small group of guests can serve themselves and keep track of pours on an abacus guarded by a stuffed and mounted raccoon.
The bar itself will feature 24 taps, including six guest taps. And because Breckenridge recognizes that not everyone drinks beer, there will not only be two wine taps but a significant wine list and cocktail menu — and some of those cocktails feature barrel-aged spirits. The growler station will offer twelve different pours and sturdy, double-walled aluminum growlers that, while ringing in at $55 for the initial purchase, will keep beer cold far longer than standard glass growlers, without the danger of breakage. To fill your growler, marketing director Todd Thibault recommends the new Breck IPA, made with a new malt varietal called Full Pint, which is grown in Wyoming.
Breckenridge-Wynkoop CEO Lee Driscoll says the menu and ambiance of the Farm House are intended to be simple and homey, without falling into modern restaurant cliches like "farm-to-table." The kitchen is overseen by chef Charlie Sinden, who was most recently in the kitchen at the original Breckenridge Brewery & Pub in Breckenridge and at the company's Ale House at Amato's before that. Menu flourishes certainly note several house-made items — breads, sausages and corned-beef, for example — but the focus is on the kind of food you'd find while visiting family in the country, augmented by Dad out on the grill cooking up Colorado cuts. Driscoll says that his current favorite on the menu is the buttermilk-fried chicken, but that the complimentary pork rinds are also irresistible.
General Manager Stuart Close is also a longtime member of the Breckenridge family, having come from the same position at the company's Kalamath Street barbecue inside the brewery there, which will wind down operations this summer as the new brewery fires up operations in late June. According to Driscoll, the barbecue joint inside the old brewery will close later this month (possibly June 10), but negotiations are under way for an existing Colorado brewery to take over the space — and that brewery may reopen the restaurant too.
While May's wet weather delayed the finishing landscaping touches outside and turned the bocce ball court into a temporary lap pool, sod will be laid this week so that the beer garden and other outdoor areas will be ready for foot traffic in a few weeks.
Thibault points out that bike trails along the Platte River (some of which will soon be expanded) give bicyclists easy access to the restaurant (the Mary Carter Greenway Trail along the river links to the parking lot of Reynolds Landing Park, which then links to Brewery Lane), and Driscoll notes that adventurous downtown Denver cyclists could make a one-way bike trip following the river and then take the Light Rail home from the nearby Mineral Street station.
Thibault and Driscoll explain that the brewery and restaurant are intended as a dual attraction along the same lines as other nationally known sites with similar themes, such as Stone Brewing near San Diego and Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, California. The brewery will offer tours for a minimal $2 or $3 (proceeds will be donated to charities each month) and the liquor license extends between the brewery tap room (where tours start and finish) and the restaurant so that guests can carry beers between the buildings.
Breckenridge launched the Farm House quietly but Thibault expects that to change once brewery tours begin later this month. The company launched its Golden Ticket contest last week to give fifty winners (and one guest per winner) a VIP tour of the brewery on June 20, a day before it officially opens. Some of the tickets have already been given away, but more will be available. For a list of the dates and locations where you can register to win, see the Breckenridge Brewery website.