Beer Man

J Wells Brewery, opening Thursday, is the first of four breweries set for Boulder

Jamie Wells has been working for four years to convert his 1.5-barrel homebrewing kit into a commercial system that could sate the thirst of many more people, and on Thursday, January 10, he'll finish that task by opening J Wells Brewery at 2516 49th Street in Boulder. His little brewery will be the first to open in 2013 in the Denver/Boulder area, but certainly not the last, as at least a dozen others are in the final preparation stages, including two each in Boulder, Denver and Golden.

See also: - A dozen new breweries on tap for the Denver Metro area by spring 2013 - Golden City's Jeff Griffith takes the head brewer's job at Fate Brewing in Boulder - Upslope will add a second, larger brewery in Boulder

"I don't even think we're close to how many breweries we could have in the United States," says Wells, adding that the nation had about the same number nearly 100 years ago, when the population was only a third of what it is now. "It's around 2,100, and I think we could double that. Then you might saturate the market.

"There is a lot of appetite for beer," he continues. "Breweries my size, the problem they have is that they run out of beer, not that they can't sell enough."

Fate Brewing, founded by Mike Lawinski, the former operations manager for the West End Tavern, is scheduled to open at 1600 38th Street in Boulder in late January or early February, while Sanitas Brewing, run by three local brewers, hopes to open just two blocks away, at 1860 38th Street, later this year.

And Upslope Brewing is finishing construction on a second Boulder brewery and canning facility at 1898 South Flatiron Court.

Wells says his customers will come from two neighboring business parks and from people who live nearby, although they may not have much place to sit at first. J Wells is starting out with only twelve seats, four tables and a couch in the tap room.

"It was either bar stools or grain, so I went with grain," he explains. "If opening weekend goes well, I'll expand it so that I can seat thirty people."

The brewery will have three beers on tap when it opens: Hop Haze IPA; Jamie's Pale Ale; and a chocolate milk stout. Wells says he prefers to brew American and English styles of beer, leaving the Belgian styles to other breweries.

And eventually, he'd like to keg his beer for local restaurants and even bottle some of it for a couple of local liquor stores around town.

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