Denver's latest brewery isn't coming from a brewer. It's coming from a chef. Troy Guard, the restaurateur and businessman behind TAG (which will close mid-month after twelve years in Larimer Square), BuBu, Los Chingones, Guard and Grace, and a host of other familiar Denver concepts, will open Little Dry Creek Brewery inside Grange Hall, the new food hall he's creating in Greenwood Village at 6575 South Greenwood Plaza Boulevard.
Featuring a fifteen-barrel brewing system and twelve to eighteen taps, Little Dry Creek will sit alongside ten other vendors — offering everything from sushi, pizza and barbecue to coffee, ice cream and fried chicken — as one of the anchors of the 12,000-square-foot project, which is expected to open in August. It takes its name from nearby Little Dry Creek, a short tributary of the South Platte River.
"Doing our own beer is pretty exciting," Guard says. "We are so focused on making the food great, along with the hospitality and the vibe, so adding another layer like this is quite a bit of work, but I really wanted to give it a chance. There is an opportunity here, and I want to see what we can do with it."
Guard's making an unusual move; very few of Colorado's restaurant groups have ventured into brewing. Only Breckenridge-Wynkoop Holdings, which began as a brewery in 1988 before adding restaurants, and Big Red F, which owns the Post Brewing Co. locations as well as other eateries, have done so. The Little Pub Company had planned to get into the brewing business last year, but scrapped that effort during the pandemic.
Little Dry Creek makes sense for Guard for several reasons, though. For starters, the building, which he and his business partners bought last year, is the former home of one of five C.B. & Potts locations in Colorado. That storied restaurant and brewery chain, which got its start in Fort Collins in 1974, closed up shop and went out of business in 2020, another casualty of the pandemic. But it left behind the brewing equipment, fermentation tanks, barrels and building infrastructure that newly-hired head brewer Ty Nash will use to make beer.
And then there's the fact that many people want to enjoy a cold beverage with their food. Guard figures he'd rather make his own than serve someone else's — especially if he can offer those beers at his other restaurants in the metro area. "Honestly, I don't want to sell other people's beer, I want to sell my own," he explains.
Guard had explored the idea of teaming up with an existing craft brewery on the space in Grange Hall since "I have never brewed before," he admits. But an unfortunate earlier experience with a local brewery "left a bad taste in my mouth, so we decided to do it on our own," he explains.
Little Dry Creek will have some experience on its side, however, with the addition of Nash, who actually worked at C.B. & Potts for a decade as both a regional assistant brewer and then as head brewer. In fact, Nash, who had also done a five-year stint at Rockyard Brewing and spent 2020 with Dead Hippie Brewing, has already brewed on the system he'll be using at Grange Hall.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to create a beer program from the ground up," says Nash. The first beer he's thinking of brewing is a Mexican lager, followed by a hefeweizen or a Belgian wit, a West Coast IPA, two hazy IPAs and either a pilsner, a kolsch or a blonde ale. Eventually, he hopes to collaborate with the food stalls at Grange Hall to make beer that pairs specifically with their menu items and flavors.
"Beer goes with food, so this is a natural progression for us," Guard says. But before the brewery can really run with new ideas, it will need to learn to walk, he adds: "The first thing we want to do is make the beer great."
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