Great Divide owner Brian Dunn hasn't wanted to discuss the details of his plans for a new brewing campus in River North -- in part because they haven't been finalized. In fact, the only evidence of the project has come from public records at the City of Denver, where Dunn asked for zoning changes and a $1 million economic development loan.
But Denver's second largest brewery will shyly -- if very publicly -- acknowledge its plans on June 14, when it hosts its twentieth anniversary blowout at the "future site" of its second location, rather than at the existing brewery where the party has been held for years.
"It's got a great view of the mountains and it should be a fun spot to look back on in a few years and remember when we partied in a field," says Great Divide spokesman Doug Christie of the party, which will take place on a dirt lot at 3403 Brighton Boulevard.
A former auto-parts lot and junkyard, the large lot will be the site of Great Divide's new warehouse, which will be the first phase of its construction project; the brewery currently leases an off-site warehouse for storage and to hold its finished beer. "We're hoping to start construction right after the party," Christie says.
The brewery itself won't be built for another few years, however. "Design-wise, there is still a lot in the air. We are not even saying 'brewery' yet because it is so far down the road and we don't want people to think it is opening soon," Christie adds.
All told, Great Divide bought three adjoining parcels of land on Brighton Boulevard, between 33rd and 35th avenues, for about $9.1 million, according to city records. Once the brewery is built, Great Divide will hire thirty more employees and have the capacity to brew 100,000 barrels immediately and up to 250,000 eventually. Great Divide brewed about 40,000 barrels of beer in 2012. The entire project could cost around $38.2 million.
And even once the new facility is up and running, Great Divide's current location will remain open -- specializing in some of the bigger beers and experimental stuff, Christie says.
For the past five years, Great Divide has closed off Arapahoe Street in front of the brewery for a massive block party to mark its anniversary; before that, the brewery had parties inside. "But we've just run out of space," Christie notes, "so it made sense for us to have the party down the street."
The party will feature live music (Gin Doctors, Dirty Few, Varlet and Confluence) and food trucks (Basic Kneads, Burger Radio, 5280 Street Eats, Pink Tank); tickets are $30 or $35 in advance (although the party has sold out early in years past), and include a food ticket. There will also be bike valet parking provided by Denver's B-cycle.
and, of course, there will be plenty of beer, including Great Divide's 20th Anniversary Belgian Style Ale, some special sours and barrel-aged brews, and a sneak peak of Showdown, an 8.3 percent ABV rye IPA that will be released later this year in bomber bottles.
"We are hoping that with more space, we will be able to keep the lines down, which will be awesome," Christie says, adding that the party will even have a shaded area in an old warehouse.
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