Beer Man

Ratio Will Open a Second Taproom in Former Declaration Spot

Ratio Beerworks, shown here in less socially distant days, was founded in 2014.
Ratio Beerworks, shown here in less socially distant days, was founded in 2014. Ratio Beerworks
Ratio Beerworks, which was founded at 2920 Larimer Street in 2014, will take its unique aesthetic, its no-nonsense beer selection and its music-centered vibe to south Denver this summer when it opens a second taproom and brewery in the Overland neighborhood. The location, at 2030 South Cherokee Street, is the former home of Declaration Brewing, which filed for bankruptcy protection early last year after a landlord dispute and later closed. Ratio will be able to take over all of Declaration’s brewing equipment along with its large canning line.

“We looked at the suburbs, but we felt like they didn’t really fit with our DIY brand and our counterculture ethos, but that's why this location in Overland feels so good — because it's an industrial area and it does fit,” says Ratio co-founder Jason zumBrunnen.

Before the pandemic, Ratio had been looking for a production facility (without a taproom) so that it could begin packaging its beer. But COVID-based restrictions that have limited brewery and bar customers for most of the past twelve months forced Ratio to get into packaging early (along with many other breweries) so that it could sell beer in cans to go. “We didn’t want to lose our momentum when it comes to canning,” zumBrunnen explains. “This is a hybrid situation for us.”

Ratio will still look to open a production facility in the future. “We were 99 percent draft pre-COVID,” the brewery owner notes, adding that Ratio now packages 25 percent of its beer.

click to enlarge RATIO BEERWORKS
Ratio Beerworks
In the meantime, however, the new taproom will allow the brewery to greatly increase the amount of beer it brews and packages. It will also be able to begin experimenting with new beers and collaborations — which Ratio previously did on a very limited basis.

The move happens to coincide with Ratio hiring Philip Joyce as its lead brewer. Joyce, who founded two other breweries that focus on wood-aging, Amalgam Brewing and Powder Keg Brewing, is well known locally for making unusual and award-winning beers. “We couldn’t be more stoked to have Phil on board. We will try to stick to our plan when it comes to our beers, but we love it when things grow organically, and we want to use his talent in wood-aged and wood-fermented beers,” zumBrunnen says.

click to enlarge Declaration Brewing, which closed last year, had a snow sports theme. - DECLARATION BREWING
Declaration Brewing, which closed last year, had a snow sports theme.
Declaration Brewing
Another huge benefit of the new location — which Ratio is leasing from Basecamp Brew, LLC, the same investment group that ended up in a lawsuit with Declaration — is the spacious and much-loved patio, which zumBrunnen calls an oasis in the city that is similar to Ratio’s patio on Larimer Street. “Breweries have a way of anchoring a neighborhood,” he adds, noting that there were many vacant buildings around Ratio when it first opened in RiNo. “Especially ones with a well-designed and comfortable outdoor space.”

In fact, since the patio on Cherokee is twice the size of the Larimer Street brewery's, zumBrunnen feels like the potential to host big events will be even greater, once the pandemic subsides.

Ratio will work on renovating its new brewery, brewhouse and patio over the next few months to bring it in line with its modern, artsy look in RiNo; zumBrunnen hopes to get the new taproom open this summer.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes