Although demolition began last week, Great Divide Brewing officially broke ground Tuesday on its planned $38.2 million, five-acre brewing campus on the banks of the South Platte River in Denver's River North neighborhood.
Brian Dunn, who founded the brewery in 1994 on Araphahoe Street, rode into the ceremony in a bucket truck alongside the company's mascot, a fluffy white yeti -- namesake to Yeti Imperial Stout, Great Divide's most sought-after beer.
"I never imagined that this is what it would become," he said, surveying the construction site and addressing Great Divide's roots as a tiny brewery.
The first phase of the project will be a 65,000-square-foot warehouse, storage and packaging facility, along with a small taproom called the Barrel Bar, built on a former auto-parts lot and junkyard at 3403 Brighton Boulevard. The warehouse will have room for 1,300 wooden whiskey barrels that will be used for aging beer in addition to canning line that will allow Great Divide to fill 350 cans of beer per minute.
That phase should take about a year and be finished next summer, Dunn said.
The second phase of Great Divide's massive undertaking should begin in 2016 and will include offices, fermenters and a brewhouse capable of producing 100,000 barrels of beer to start -- and 250,000 eventually. There will also be a large tap room and beer garden facing the river and the mountains.
The city of Denver is planning to build a park just behind the brewery and adjacent to the river. Development of that park could begin as soon as next year. Great Divide's property is located across the street from The Source restaurant and market complex.
"We're very excited to be in the RiNo neighborhood," Dunn said. "There is an incredible energy here."
Turn the page to see more photos of the site and the groundbreaking.
Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.