Sean Guerrero’s story is the epitome of what an American tale should be. It’s about education, perseverance, ingenuity and multiculturalism. And it’s about beer.
Those attributes will come together in the next few weeks when Guerrero opens Jade Mountain Brewing in the former Pilothouse Brewing space, at 4233 South Buckley Road in Aurora. He’ll use his three-barrel brewing system to create beers that incorporate Chinese spices, fruits and other ingredients, and he'll name them after poems, historic figures or cultural icons from Asia, where he lived for more than two years.
“I want to bring as much culture from Asia as I possibly can and create an emotional connection for people,” Guerrero says. But he also wants to blend in other cultures, including his own Hispanic heritage.
In fact, “blending culture” is the brewery’s tagline, a play on both his goals for an inclusiveness and diversity in the taproom and the concept of brewing with yeast. “There aren’t that many minority-owned breweries in this state, so we want to be inclusive of everything and create a safe space for everybody," he says. It's a notion that is particularly poignant in light of rising violence against Asian-Americans.
Born in Denver, Guerrero made his way through Metropolitan State University while working as a plumbing contractor (both for his father’s company and for other employers), graduating with a degree in journalism. But his path would take him far from Colorado when he fell in love with his future wife, a Chinese citizen who was studying at MSU as well. The two got married and a few years later moved to Huzhou, China, where Guerrero, a longtime home brewer, started his own small craft brewery. The business, also called Jade Mountain, did well, attracting both locals and ex-pats who enjoyed the way Guerrero incorporated local spices, fruit and tea into his beers.
In 2017, Guerrero and his family moved back to Denver, where he decided to re-create Jade Mountain, starting construction on a property in southeast Denver, near Comrade Brewing. He and his father toiled for three years there, doing most of the renovations themselves. But after battling with both his landlord and the City of Denver on several issues, including parking, Guerrero started looking for a new location last August.
After checking out a few spots, he came across the former home of Pilothouse Brewing, which opened in late 2017 but closed just two and a half years later when the owner had to file for bankruptcy protection.
Although the equipment, fixtures and furniture were gone, the infrastructure was already set up for a brewery, so Guerrero and his father had less work to complete. And the change in address allowed Guerrero to dial in his beers and the stories behind them, he says.
The new Jade Mountain is near Smoky Hill High School, where Guerrero graduated, so in some ways “it's like coming home,” he adds.
When Jade Mountain opens — possibly by late April — Guerrero will have at least eight beers on tap, including Fortune, a fruited gose made with kumquats and Himalayan sea salt; Guan Yu, a stout brewed with Sichuan peppercorns, Sichuan chiles, dark chocolate and lactose; Snow, a rice ale made with jasmine flowers; and Lantern, a rice ale with red and black Goji berries. A few of these have already been on tap at Bao Brewhouse, a new restaurant in downtown Denver that Guerrero says has almost been acting like “a second taproom” for Jade Mountain.
Guerrero will also have a hazy IPA, a sour IPA and “hard teas,” which are basically hard seltzers made with Chinese teas. He will also serve regular (non-alcoholic) tea, and points out that since the original Jade Mountain in China was founded inside a former teahouse, that beverage is very important to him.
“We’ll have something for everyone,” he points out — multiculturalism as its finest.
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