Denver's craft beer scene grew so fast in 2012 that it's hard to believe thatRiver North Brewery
, which will host a big bash this Saturday,opened its doors only one year ago
In just twelve months, the brewery has built a bustling customer base in its taproom and around town, where its high-gravity bottled beers have garnered awards and accolades, and even nationally, earning a couple of mentions in national publications. Over that time, River North released seven mainline beers, as well as five barrel-aged versions of those, which it sells in 22-ounce bomber bottles on local liquor store shelves.
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River North was also the first beer maker to open in a neighborhood that could be home to as many as five or six breweries by the end of 2012, making it a starting point for local brewery crawls and for out-of-staters looking to dive into the Denver scene.
And 2013 will be even bigger, says River North founder Matthew Hess. "I wouldn't be surprised if we added fermenters in the next six months or so," he says. "And I would hope that we would triple what we did in 2012. We did 295 barrels last year."
Hess also plans to begin canning two beers with Longmont's Mobile Canning LLC by April: River North White, a 5 percent ABV Belgian-style witbier, and a new, as-yet-unnamed hoppy red ale. "Canning is more suited to sessionable beers than are bombers," he explains. "It will be good to get some other, lower-gravity styles out there."
But River North will also continue to focus on its barrel-aging program, releasing some new styles or variations, along with some old favorites, Hess says. "We may get two more seasonals out in bombers this year as well."
On Saturday, February 16, the brewery will celebrate its birthday staring at 1 p.m. starting at 1 p.m. today by tapping a beer with a higher gravity than any of its previous concoctions: a 12.5 percent ABV imperial stout. The brewery made 120 cases of it.
River North will also open its barrel garden to the public and offer tours throughout the day on request, Hess says.
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