Beer Man

Great Divide is doubling the size of its taproom in time for the Great American Beer Festival

Great Divide Brewing's cozy, but often cramped, tap room will double in size this month, just in time for the Great American Beer Festival.

The brewery first opened the tap room in March 2007 -- with 25 seats and room for another 25 or so people standing -- and it quickly became one of the beating hearts of the city's beer-culture scene. In 2009, Great Divide added a 25-seat outdoor patio.

Now the place is typically packed with people hanging out or getting growlers full of beer to go. And on Colorado Rockies game days, the tap room is usually mobbed.

"We've been wanting to do this for a while," says brewery owner and founder Brian Dunn. "But we had other expansion projects we were working on that had to do with expanding capacity. That had to be the priority. We couldn't do it all at once."

For the expanded space, Great Divide is blowing out the back wall of the tap room and moving into the space behind it, adding another fifteen seats and much more standing room. The sixteen-handle tap room will probably continue to fill up quickly, but Dunn says he likes it that way -- and he didn't have much choice, anyway, since Great Divide is already working in cramped conditions without a lot of physical room to grow into.

"We think it will be big enough," he says. "It's comfortable and cool and has a good view of the brewery. A great part of being downtown is having the tap room, but the primary part of our business is making beer and getting it to bars and liquor stores."

But space is running out for that as well, and Dunn thinks the brewery will have to move in the next couple of years. "We just don't know when," he admits.

Dunn would like to stay in the Ballpark neighborhood if possible, but is willing to consider other neighborhoods, hopefully nearby.

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