Epic Brewing's Kevin Crompton surprised a room full of reporters and bloggers during the Great American Beer Festival last week when he announced that his Utah company planned to build a second brewery in Denver during the first part of 2013.
He also surprised Epic's owners, David Cole and Peter Erickson, who are still searching for a location in central Denver but don't have any of the details nailed down. In fact, Cole says that if the brewery can't find a good spot, he'll investigate California.
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"We've been looking for the right place for eight months, but nothing is done and no ink is dry," he says, adding that Epic has already ordered new brewery equipment -- which should be ready in November -- but doesn't yet know where to have it delivered.
Founded in Salt Lake City in 2008, Epic is an interesting story. It was the first beer maker to open after Utah changed its laws four years ago to allow breweries to make beer that was stronger than 4 percent ABV. And although it can sell bottled beer from its brewery, Epic can't sell beer on draft.
One slight caveat allows breweries to serve samples of beer to patrons as long as they are also buying food. Epic calls it a tapless taproom.
Utah is the most prohibitionist state in the nation," Cole says. "It's difficult to do full strength beer here and very difficult to deal with the legal issues. Utah also also has the lowest per capital consumption rate, by far, of any state, like forty percent lower than the next lowest state. So, to invest further in this state is probably unnecessary," he adds.
In other words: although "it was epic to start a brewpub under these conditions," the brewery needs to set up another production facility elsewhere.
Enter Denver, where Cole and Erickson would like to set up a fifteen-barrel brewhouse with a taproom and small food element to brew some of their most popular beers, as well as a few of the specialties they have become known for. Two of the brewery's most famous beers are Brainless on Peaches and Fermentation Without Representation.
"We want to be in a place where craft beer is understood and has a market," Cole says. Epic distributes beer in Loveland and Fort Collins, but hasn't yet ventured into Denver (aside from an occasional tap at Hops & Pie) because it doesn't have the capacity to make enough beer to supply the area, he adds. A new brewery would change that.
If Epic is able to find a location, Cole says he'd like to get open as soon as possible.
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