Spangalang Brewery will jazz up the Five Points neighborhood on Thursday when it opens inside the high-profile former Denver Motor Vehicles office.
Founded by former Great Divide head brewer Taylor Rees and journeyman beer makers Austin Wiley and Darren Boyd, the brewery takes its name from a jazz term that refers to a cymbal pattern. It's an homage to Five Points's history as a hub for jazz musicians.
But the beat at Spangalang will more likely come from the beer.
For its opening day, Rees says, the brewery will be pouring: two IPAs, one with a lower alcohol content and one with a higher ABV; a Belgian table beer; a saison; a Belgian dubbel; a version of that dubbel with cherry juice; an imperial stout; and a version of the stout fermented in wine barrels with wine grape juice.
“We had plenty of time to brew normal beers, but not to do sour beers or barrel-aged beers that would have had that real barrel character,” Rees explains. “But we wanted to have a good variety, so we did some fun stuff with what we could do."
Spangalang's ten-barrel brewing system is located in what was a former insurance office next to the DMV, giving passers-by on Welton Street a view of the equipment through the windows.
The taproom is where the DMV office and waiting room used to be, and has an entrance into the parking lot in the Five Points Plaza, which was purchased last year by a real estate holding company. Rees and his partners hope to install garage doors in this area – similar to what Joyride Brewing has – possibly by late summer.
The inside is decorated with jazz album covers, a tile wall for the taps, and a bar made out of Douglas fir; Spangalang's owners found several old DMV signs during construction, and may use those as part of the decorations in the future.
And although there may be food trucks on hand in the beginning, Rees says the brewery has sub-leased a tiny portion of its space to a woman who plans to open a kitchen with a window facing the brewery. In addition, an outlet of Fat Jack's super subs will open in the Five Points plaza soon. There are a couple of other eateries nearby as well. “There will be a ton of options, and we want to support the neighborhood,” Rees says.
Support from the neighborhood is important to Spangalang as well, and so far, the brewery has received plenty of it. “Reaction has been very positive so far,” Rees adds. “We weren't sure what to expect, but everyone has been very friendly.”
Five Points, once the cultural and economic center of Denver's black community, has had a hard time rebuilding itself over the past two decades, and there are a number of empty storefronts and legacies of failed businesses. The neighborhood is also dealing with the conflict that can arise with changing demographics and gentrification. Two new restaurants, Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen and Dunbar Kitchen + Tap House opened last year; both are doing well, and Randall's also recently relaunched its New Orleans kitchen on the same stretch.
Spangalang will be open every day starting at noon; it will close at 10 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and at 8 p.m. on other days.