Beer Man

Former heads of Rackhouse Pub, Prost Brewing team up on Bierstadt Lagerhaus/tasting complex

A trio of heavy hitters in Denver's beer world -- Chris Rippe, Bill Eye and Ashleigh Carter -- are teaming up to create a German-style brewery and unusual new production facility in River North next year that will also include a cidery and another like-minded business, all three of which will share a tasting room with a full kitchen.

Rippe ran the Rackhouse Pub -- located inside the Stranahan's Colorado distillery at 208 South Kalamath Street -- for five years until closing it in April so that he could move into a bigger space across the street and Stranahans' could expand.

See also: Rackhouse Pub will close in April, reopen in its own space across the street

But "unforeseen problems" with that building forced Rippe to abandon that plan. Instead, he will partner with Eye and Carter on a 21,000-square-foot warehouse at 2875 Blake Street; they hope to sign a lease on the space later this week or early next week.

Eye had been the head brewer and co-founder of Prost Brewing until January, when he stepped down after a disagreement with the other owners. He recently settled that dispute, however, and is no longer affiliated with Prost; in return for selling his portion of the brewery, the other owners have released him from a non-compete clause.

"I'm quite excited to take another stab at brewing German-style beers in Colorado, which is what I have always wanted to do," says Eye, who for several years was the head brewer at Dry Dock, where he won numerous Great American Beer Festival medals.

Ashleigh Carter has worked alongside Eye at both Prost and Dry Dock, and earlier this year was the organizer of an all-female tap takeover -- a first-of-its-kind event that brought together female brewers and brewery employees from around the country.

The brewery will be called Bierstadt Lagerhaus and will specialize in German-style lagers; the rest of the complex has yet to be named. Rippe wants that name to reflect all of the occupants in a way similar to the Source, which has numerous tenants. "We'll be providing something for a lot of different people, and the customer experience will be different than anything else in the city," he says.

The other two tenants will have separate ownership, but all three will work together in the tasting room.

The neighborhood already has several breweries, but Rippe believes that each one does something different and that Bierstadt won't infringe on them. "The beauty of beer is that there is so much diversity. Bill is one of the top brewers in the country when it comes to knowledge of lager production," he says.

Eye and Carter recently traveled to Germany, where they purchased an 82-year-old copper brewing system that was being used by a brewery in Mammendorf, Bavaria; the 35-barrel system will need to be disassembled and imported into the United States.

"It is even older and prettier than the one I got for Prost," Eye says of the enormous, seventy-year-old, seventy-barrel system that he acquired for Prost in 2011 in Bamberg, Germany. "It's just beautiful and in really amazing shape."

Eye is excited to work with Carter and Rippe again, he says: "They are reputable people who I have known for a while -- bright, talented and passionate."

The complex could open sometime in early 2015, depending on construction, permitting and the approval of a variety of liquor licenses.

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