When Hogshead Brewery opens this spring near Sloan's Lake, it will boast what might be the first stainless-steel craft brewing system manufactured in Colorado.
Hellfire Fabrication, a small company in Dacono, is building the custom equipment, and co-owner Brian Melanson says he's hoping to develop a niche in the industry since Colorado is home to so many beer makers. "We do handrails and staircases and structural steel, but I'd like to just start doing this because it's better than doing handrails, and there is a lot less competition," Melanson says. "There are ten companies making handrails. We are the only tank builders in the state that I know of."
Most breweries order their brew kettles and mashtuns from beer specialists like Premier Stainless in San Diego or from overseas manufacturers. Since two of the four owners of Hogshead work in the contracting business, however, they figured they might be able to find someone locally who could do the job faster, cheaper and more to their liking.
"We are custom building this because we want our brewer, Steve Kirby, to be able to run this thing by himself as often as possible without assistance," says Hogshead co-owner Jeff Kipp. Because of the customization, the final price will come out at about what it would have cost to order equipment from out of state, Kipp says, but he and Kirby have been able to meet with Melanson every week in person to hammer out the details. "I like the fact that we are helping local businesses," Kipp notes.
Hellfire has built a few other pieces of brewing equipment, including a brite tank for Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery in Nederland and a stainless-steel holding tank for Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey. He's also done some brewery repair work.
But this is the biggest job he's taken on, and he wants to make sure he gets it right before he starts looking for more business from other breweries.
Hogshead, which will specialize in cask-conditioned English style ales, has received all of its brewing permits, but is still waiting for construction approval from the city of Denver. Once it's approved, Kipp says, it will take about six weeks to turn the old '50s-style gas station at 29th Avenue and Utica Street into a brewery.
Kipp and company will keep two cask-conditioned beers on tap at all times, serving them with hand pumps from kegs located in a fifty-degree cask room. "We hope we get a good neighborhood following so we can keep those fresh," he adds.
When the brewery opens, possibly in April or May, it will have at least three beers on tap: Lake Lightning, a blonde ale; Gilpin Black Ale, a porter; and Chin Wag ESB.