Heather Bean Embraces the Weird at Her Greeley Distillery, Syntax Spirits

Syntax Spirits is located in the historic Greeley Elevator Building
Syntax Spirits is located in the historic Greeley Elevator Building Woody Myers
It was around 2008 when Heather Bean left behind her fifteen-year corporate engineering career to launch Greeley-based Syntax Spirits. "I wasn’t having a good time,” Bean admits of her job back then.

Fortunately, though, part of her role involved traveling to Portland, Oregon, where good friends loved taking her around to craft distilleries and breweries. Bean was already into home brewing and wine making, enjoying the intersection of art and science. As she puts it, she has a science background, but she’s wired artistically. While the craft beer boom was already underway at that point, there weren't many craft distilleries, which prompted Bean to give it a try herself.

“It was a new frontier, which is always where I am happiest,” she says. "Life's short," she recalls thinking, so she went all in, opening Syntax in 2010. The goal was never to try and grow a huge company. Instead, her priority is making high-quality, sustainable spirits, supporting the local community, enjoying what she’s doing and "embracing the weird," she explains.
A creative cocktail menu highlights housemade spirits and local ingredients.
Syntax Spirits / Instagram
Syntax never uses alcohol produced by anyone else, and most ingredients are sourced within 100 miles of the distillery. “Right from the beginning, we always wanted to do the full-on local, from scratch. Local grain, local farmers,” she says, adding that the spent grains are given back to local farmers. The team also instills other sustainable practices, including minimizing water use and recycling bottles and packaging.

The distillery's Straight Bourbon Whiskey is made with local corn, wheat, barley and Poudre River whitewater and aged for at least two years. Crystal Vodka starts with local wheat and distilled in handmade column stills. Heavy Rum is made with American dark cane molasses and blended with Rocky Mountain whitewater and is aged in a whiskey barrel. The floral Rose Gin gets its flavor from natural botanicals, including Indonesian cinnamon, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, red rose petals and juniper berries.

Bean's creativity has paid off with a long list of awards, including medals at the Rocky Mountain Craft Spirits Competition, the Beverage Tasting Institute, Wizards of Whiskey UK, the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival and a designation of American Craft Distiller of the Year Runner-Up.
The Syntax Spirits lineup includes a dark rum, vodka, whiskey and gin.
Syntax Spirits / Instagram
A big part of the distillery's story is the unique building where the spirits are produced: the historic Greeley Elevator Building at 700 6th Street in downtown Greeley, where Bean once purchased grain in the early days of Syntax. It’s taken a lot of work to restore the space, which is over a hundred years old, but Bean looks at it as a fun project. “It’s not like anything else,” she notes.

Guests can enjoy the cozy, one-of-a-kind space with a creative cocktail or, as Bean prefers, while sipping the spirits straight. There’s also a large, welcoming patio filled with plants, including a garden where herbs and produce are grown to use in the cocktails.

Syntax Spirits is located at 700 6th Street, Greeley; its tasting room is open from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 970-352-5466 or visit
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Kristen Kuchar is a Colorado writer covering dining and the beverage industry, including wine, beer, cider and spirits. Her articles have appeared in VinePair, the Beer Connoisseur, Beer Advocate,, Zymurgy and more. She has a WSET Level 1 certificate and is a Certified Beer Server by the Cicerone Certification Program and a Certified American Wine Expert.

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