The owners of Ratio Beerworks had stopped looking for space in River North -- a district that already boasts seven breweries with at least three more on the way -- when they heard about the 5,500-square-foot warehouse that Mile High Spirits was leaving behind after finding newer digs downtown.
"It was an A-plus for us -- the right size with soaring ceilings and a huge side yard," says former Wynkoop and AC Golden brewer Jason zumBrunnen, who plans to open Ratio with partners Zach Lowery and Scott Kaplan.
Still, the group took its time ramping up plans for 2920 Larimer Street. Part of that was because the founders changed the brewery name to Ratio from Reverie when they discovered a similarly named winery in California; part was because they wanted to have enough financial backing to open with a larger-than-normal brewhouse.
When it opens, Ratio will have a twenty-barrel production brewing system and a 1,500-square-foot taproom. It will have an initial brewing capacity of 2,000 barrels per year, with possibilities for expansion.The plan is to make enough beer to consistently supply the taproom along with local restaurants that, more and more, are serving local craft brews.
There are also plans to package: zumBrunnen says Ratio will start by bottling barrel-aged beers, including some wild or sour ales, but there is room in the facility for a canning line down the road.
Located just a block from Our Mutual Friend and two blocks from Epic Brewing, Ratio will be in the heart of what has become Denver's densest brewery locale. "I was, of course, concerned" about the number or breweries already located in River North, which includes parts of the Five Points, Ballpark and Curtis Park neighborhoods, zumBrunnen says.
But he ended up deciding that RiNo has become more of a brewery district, which he sees as a positive. In fact, zumBrunnen compares it to the brewery-heavy Buckman and Kerns neighborhoods in southeast Portland.
"There is a line between too many breweries in an area and having a brewery district," he says. "It's becoming a really dense part of town."
When Ratio opens, probably in the late winter or early spring of 2015, it will have an "eclectic" taproom, with connections to art and music; there will eventually be an outdoor space opening into the taproom.
It will also have five year-round beers (which could include a saison spiced with American hops, a dark Scotch ale and a session pale), along with several seasonal offerings and some barrel-aged beers.
In addition to working at Wynkoop and AC Golden, zumBrunnen, a chemical engineering major at the University of Colorado, also graduated from the Seibel Institute, a highly-regarded brewing school.
Lowery will oversee branding and marketing and help with brewing, while Kaplan will focus on the financial, accounting and legal functions. The three met a decade ago through the music scene in Boulder.
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