With a thundering noise that could strike fear into the hearts of small beer makers in the River North neighborhood, Fort Collins-based Odell Brewing, the state's third-largest independent craft brewery, will take a King Kong-sized step into Denver next year, opening a huge, two-story taproom and pilot brewery at 30th and Larimer streets.
Located inside a hundred-year-old building, the 4,000-square-foot taproom will include a ten-barrel brewhouse, two bars with fifteen Odell tap handles, an outdoor patio with two fire pits, a live-music stage and a rooftop patio. The facility will be located next to the planned site of Denver's first Shake Shack, at 2945 Larimer Street.
“For years we’ve explored the potential of a second taproom, and Denver has always been at the top of that list,” Odell CEO and co-founder Wynne Odell says in a statement. “It took a lot of patience, but we’re thrilled to be joining the RiNo community which has a booming craft-beer scene and a long history of celebrating independent, creative businesses. When we realized we were going from Larimer County to Larimer Street, it just felt right.”
"It is the perfect location...in such an up-and-coming neighborhood," Odell tells Westword, adding that the historic nature of the building was also appealing. Although the taproom won't have food, it will be adjacent to Shake Shack and in the same complex with two other as-yet-unnamed restaurants.
Odell, which is known for beers like 90 Shilling, 5 Barrel Pale Ale, Friek and Myrcenary, typically moves very slowly when it comes to expansion and growth, which makes this move even more interesting, because it comes at a time when medium-sized and larger craft breweries are feeling pinched by increasing competition. In addition, RiNo is already the most competitive beer neighborhood in Colorado, with twelve existing breweries and two more on the way, including a pilot brewery from fellow Colorado powerhouse New Belgium.
"We have always been a proponent of the idea that the pie gets bigger rather than taking bites of other people's slices," Odell says, adding that the company has supported other breweries in Fort Collins that have opened nearby. She called several other breweries in the neighborhood last week to let them know about the move, and "people have been uniformly supportive," she adds. "We think we will enrich the district rather than detracting from their success. It's the nature of craft beer to understand that we are better together, ultimately."
Last year, mega brewers Coors and Anheuser Busch each opened a brewery and taproom in RiNo, Coors with its Blue Moon brand, and AB InBev with its 10 Barrel brand. But the Odell move could have more of an impact since Odell is a highly respected, local and independent craft brewery that could compete for the same audience as other craft breweries like Ratio, Our Mutual Friend, Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Black Shirt and Epic; Epic and Ratio are just a stone's throw away, while Our Mutual Friend is two blocks away.
"Wynne Odell did call me the other day to let us know about the brewery, and I was appreciative of it. She was the first person from a brewery in four years to do so — though I don’t feel like I’m owed a call," says Brandon Proff, co-founder of Our Mutual Friend, which is the second-oldest craft brewery in the neighborhood.
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"Generally, I am feeling more apathetic about impending breweries than ever because we have been feeling really good about what we are doing as OMF and where beer is going in terms of the 'neighborhood brewery,'" he adds. "There is a lot of beer tourism coming in, and the Drink RiNo organization we formed with all the breweries, cideries, wineries, distilleries, etc., are working hard on coming up with compelling reasons for humans to make their way to the neighborhood.... I think that since Odell will be interested in contributing to that, their gravitational pull for people will be good for everyone."
Odell's pilot brewhouse will be focused on experimental beers that will only be available in the taproom; "We have a blank slate in what we are able to create," Odell says, adding that the brewery won't make the same beers it brews in Fort Collins. "It gives us a chance to work with new ideas that we haven't had time to put in place."
Construction is expected to begin this summer, and while Odell hopes the brewery will be open by the end of the year, it could extend into 2018.
"To us, Colorado is our biggest market — 64 percent of our business. We want to stay relevant, so we are doubling down in our own back yard," Odell says. "This gives us an opportunity to showcase what we are best at."