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Would-Be Beer Makers Find Comfort at Grandma's House, a Collective Brewery

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Matthew Fuerst is a collector. Last week he took a trip down Broadway to Angelo's CDs, where he bought 120 8-track cartridges to play on the vintage 8-track stereo at Grandma's House, the brewery that Fuerst opened last October. Filled with retro appliances, knick-knacks, games and decorations, Grandma's House looks a lot like your own grandma's house -- and Fuerst has been acquiring items at a rapid clip.

But Fuerst has built up another kind of collection as well. So far, he has signed five breweries-in-planning that have made and served beers at Grandma's House.

See also: Ten Breweries That Plan to Open in Denver in 2015

"We have a good group. We may take on more at some point in the future, but I'm pretty pleased with what we have at the moment," he says.

Fuerst calls Grandma's House -- which is unique across the wide spectrum of Colorado breweries -- a "collective brewery." Although all of the beers are technically made by Grandma's House in order to adhere to state liquor laws, the recipes come from the breweries-in-planning, and Fuerst shares any pint profits with them.

There are typically six to eight beers on tap at Grandma's House at any one time -- most of them brewed by Fuerst -- and another one or two from the "Grandkids," as he calls the other breweries. Eventually, he'd like to have beers from all five on at the same time.

There are currently two Grandkids beers on tap, a Roggenbier from Broken Spine and a small amount of a Belgian golden strong ale from Two Creeks Brewing.

"This is something people in Denver have been wanting for a while, and now we have it," says Two Creeks owner Preston Hartman of Grandma's House.

A multiple award-winning homebrewer who would like to open his brewery in Denver this year or next, Hartman has brewed three beers at Grandma's House -- the Belgian golden, an alt bier called Wunsch Amber that will tap next month, and a smokey schwarzbier that will be tapped in late February or early March.

In doing so, he's learned how to upscale his homebrew recipes to larger, professional systems. "I'm also using this as a way to sell and market my beer before I am licensed and have a location," he explains.

On Saturday another Grandkid, Gunbarrel Brewing, will tap two beers, Salt Lick Gose and Rosemary Pale Ale; the would-be brewery is looking for a location in the metro area.

The other breweries-in-planning that work out of Grandma's House are Tiny Ass Brewery and 53 Peaks Brewing. There is also a sake maker and small tonic water company that use the space at Grandma's House for their fledgling operations.

Most of the breweries work on Fuerst's ten-gallon homebrew-sized pilot system, although Hartman says he may permanently install his 1.5-barrel system at Grandma's House for everyone's benefit. On Thursday, however, Harman graduated to Fuerst's much larger seven-barrel system, which he used to make the schwarzbier. "Everything went pretty well," he says of the experience of scaling up his recipe.

Everything is going well for Grandma's House, too, where business has been steadily increasing. Says Fuerst, "We are growing more quickly than some other small breweries, I think. People seem to dig it. I am pleased and optimistic going forward."


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