Beer Man

Wynkoop-Breckenridge joint venture experiences a beery hiccup

It's been five months since the Wynkoop and Breckenridge breweries revealed that they were merging their finances and operations, but it's going to be a while longer before the Wynkoop can start producing its beer at Breckenridge as it had planned.

The federal Alcohol Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB), which monitors and licenses beer and breweries, has asked the companies to apply for an "alternating proprietorship" agreement -- despite the fact that they are both part of the same company.

These agreements allow one brewery to loan or rent its equipment and its physical premises to another brewery for a certain period of time. They also stipulate that the equipment technically belongs to the second brewery while they are brewing with it.

"Alternating brewery proprietorships allow existing breweries to use excess capacity and give new entrants to the beer business an opportunity to begin on a small scale, without investing in premises and equipment," the TTB web site says.

The tenant is then allowed to say on their label that they brewed and packaged the beer themselves -- something that is very important to Wynkoop, says spokesman Marty Jones. "We get to take over the place while we are there," he explains.

But alternating proprietorships also require a large amount of paperwork.

Wynkoop had planned to brew and can its two biggest-selling beers, Rail Yard Ale and Silverback Pale Ale, at the Breckenridge facility at 471 Kalamath Street immediately after the merger was completed in early March. But it has to change those plans after the TTB mandate. Last week, the company finally finished filing the paperwork and will now have to wait up to ninety days for the federal agency to review and approve it.

"We were a little disappointed, and it delayed our plans by a while. We were anxious to start making beer there," says Jones, adding that the Wynkoop has reached capacity at its own brewery and has had to stop adding new accounts. But since Breckenridge has also been adding new tanks, it has allowed them some time to ramp up production.

In the meantime, Wynkoop has temporarily stopped producing one of its beers, Wixa Weiss, so it can make more Rail Yard and Silverback. It is serving Breckenridge's Agave Wheat in its place.

Several other breweries in Colorado have worked out alternating proprietorships, including Fort Collins Brewing and New Planet, which doesn't have its own facility; the Bristol and Rockyard breweries in Colorado Springs; and New Belgium in Fort Collins and Seattle-based Elysian Brewing, which use each other's facilities.

"I want to give a shout out to New Belgium and Elysian, who were very helpful for us," Jones says. "They have blazed this trail already."

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes