Beer Man

Our Mutual Friend Malt & Beer will connect the brewery dots in Five Points

Like Antique Row on South Broadway or Gallery Row along Santa Fe Drive, there is a new brewery row forming in the River North and Five Points neighborhoods. The first link in the chain is River North Brewery, which opened last February in the former Flying Dog Brewing space at 24th and Blake streets. The second is Black Shirt Brewing, which has been in the works since last summer at 38th and Walnut streets and is tentatively set to open in August or September.

Luckily, the owners of both spots have become mutual friends with the owners of a third spot, Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew, who plan to open a nanobrewery, maltery and taproom in August in between the other two, at 2810 Larimer Street.

"I was actually kind of nervous about that to start," says Brandon Proff, who owns Our Mutual Friend with fellow homebrewers Bryan Leavelle and Andrew Strasburg. "But a lot of the new breweries that are opening have something specific they focus on: Prost is doing Germans, River North is doing Belgian styles and Black Shirt is doing reds.

"We want to have solid versions of the major American styles. There will always be some competition, but I don't really feel like it's as much of a competitive thing as it will be a great place and a great way to ride your bike or walk between the different breweries," Proff adds. "We want to make Five Points and RiNo a destination."

The owners of Our Mutual Friend also want to set themselves apart by malting and roasting their own barley -- something that is very unusual in a brewery.

Proff says they've been getting advice on how to set up a maltery from the Colorado Malting Company, the only independent maltery in the state. CMC sells malt to more than half a dozen local breweries, including Wynkoop and Ska.

When it opens -- probably in early August -- Our Mutual Friend will have a tiny, one-barrel brewing system, making it the smallest beer maker in the city. The taproom, which is almost complete, will seat 65 to 100 people and will have five or six taps.

Proff says there will be a brown, a wheat, a porter, a saison, a pale ale and other classic American styles on tap. "We want to do all the main ones, and do them well. We are not even planning on naming them," he says.

"We just wanted to keep things simple and basic," he adds. "This will be a neighborhood brewery like others that are opening in different areas of town. Anyone can hang out here, even if they don't have the highest quality palate. I want to make award winning beer, but also not to alienate people who drink Coors light. It's a difficult thing to pull of, but I am going to try."

After all, he points out, "beer brings people together."

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