Harry Smith, who has been making beer for Breckenridge Brewery for eleven years, will open his own place early next year -- just a block away from where he now works.
"I can go to work, and then go to work," jokes Smith, who will stay with Breckenridge until he opens Black Sky Brewery, a brewpub that will feature thin-crust, "New Haven-style" pizza and beers from a variety of local breweries, in addition to Smith's own.
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Smith and his wife, Lila Mackey, came up with the idea for a brewery based on heavy-metal music in 2004 and got started on their business plan a few years later. But it wasn't until recently that the pace of their efforts picked up, propelled by a financing plan.
"We looked all over town, in Five Points, along Broadway and Colfax, down south around Evans. This building just happened to be the building," he says. The spot, at 490 Santa Fe Drive, will have room for an outdoor beer garden and a large, twenty-space parking lot.
Smith loves his job and everyone he works with at Breckenridge, he says, but he wants a chance to be more creative with his recipes -- something he's been able to do for a while now at Strange Brewing, where he and Strange co-owner Tim Myers have brewed some unusual small-batch beers as part of their One-Barrel Wednesday series.
He'll also have a lineup of solid styles, including a a pale ale, an IPA, a stout, a brown, a Scottish and a kolsch. "I want to make true-to-style beers and then play around," he adds.
Smith and Mackey also plan to have someone offering art, music and brewing lessons at the brewery, which is just blocks from Denver's Art District on Santa Fe, as well as tastings with Cicerones and other beer experts. "Beer is art. It's basically hand-crafted flavor, and we think the classes will help tie us into the community here," Smith says.
His goal is to open by March 17, 2013, even if he's not brewing his own beer yet. Since Black Sky will have pizza as well as beer from other breweries -- like Breckenridge, Strange, Renegade (only four blocks away), Caution and Wit's End -- he thinks he'll be able to pull off that date.
When he does brew, he plans to collaborate with as many breweries as possible -- and some heavy-metal bands as well. "Originally, we wanted to be a music venue, but when we figured out the cost, we turned into a pub," he says.
And he has no plans to can or bottle. "I want this to be an homage to the craft-beer scene, but I've had it with production," he explains. "We will be small and unique and special, and you'll have to come to the brewery to get our beer."
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