Beer Man

Great Divide tentatively plans a large new brewery in Denver's River North

Great Divide Brewing, which has grown so much over the past five years that it is bursting at the seams, is targeting a new spot in the River North neighborhood where it can continue to brew the boundary-pushing beers it has been making since 1994.

The brewery has asked the city for a $1 million loan to help it buy four connected lots -- along Brighton Boulevard between what would be 33rd and 35th avenues -- where the company could build a brand-new brewery and taproom in early 2015.

See also: Great Divide adds Oatmeal Yeti to its lineup of highly-rated imperial stouts

If it is built, the facility would allow Great Divide to hire at least 29 new employees within two years and to expand its total brewing capacity from 60,000 barrels of beer per year to 100,000 barrels right away, and to 250,000 barrels over fifteen years, according to the brewery's loan application with the Office of Economic Development.

Great Divide brewed 32,000 barrels in 2012 and expects to increase that to 38,000 in 2013, which gives it several years before it hits its limit at 60,000 barrels.

The entire project, which uses the address of 3403 Brighton Boulevard, could cost around $38.2 million, according to the brewery's estimates.

Great Divide founder and owner Brian Dunn didn't want to comment on the plans since they are still tentative and involve multiple properties with multiple owners, as well as approval of the loan and a rezoning request allowing for a manufacturing brewery.

The lots -- across Brighton from the Source, a soon-to-open European-style restaurant and retail complex -- are currently occupied by industrial and automotive uses.

If Dunn's plan is successful, Great Divide would establish a huge presence in RiNo, which is quickly becoming known as Denver's hottest area for breweries.

There are currently seven breweries either operating or under construction in the neighborhood: River North Brewery, Black Shirt, Our Mutual Friend, Epic, Crooked Stave (which will open in the Source), Mockery Brewing and 303 Brewing.

If the plans go forward, it's likely that Great Divide would keep its current location -- where it was founded nineteen years ago -- as a second small-batch brewery.

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes