Food fans come from all over Colorado to try the unusual combination of brewery and Nepalese restaurant that is Arvada’s venerable Yak & Yeti. “As a result, we get a lot of requests for our beer,” says Jeff Tyler, who took over as head brewer there last summer.
So on February 1, Yak & Yeti will rename the brewery side of its operation Spice Trade Brewing Co., with the goal of getting its beer into more bellies. Spice Trade will start by contract-brewing two of its flagship beers, Chai Milk Stout and Sun Temple IPA, and canning and kegging them for distribution to liquor stores, bars and restaurants.
Tyler and Dol Bhattarai, who own Yak & Yeti and two other restaurants, are also looking for a site for their own production brewery, which they hope to open within a year.
“Yak & Yeti has been around for a long time, but now we want to expand our brand into the retail market and expand our reach,” Tyler explains. “We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the brand and why people would buy our beer if it were sitting next to the hundreds of others that are available in liquor stores. And what we homed in on were our unique cultural and culinary roots.”
The Chai Milk Stout, for example, is made from a family recipe that Tyler blends himself and puts into the beer on brewing day. Other beers are made specifically to pair with Bhattarai’s cuisine.
Spice Trade will continue to take inspiration from Nepalese food, but will also look to culinary traditions and ingredients from around the world. That means Tyler will create and introduce a wide variety of new beers over the next few months. One of the first — which will be tapped at Spice Trade’s launch party on February 15 — is Sichuan Saison, which will be made with tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns along with orange peel and a custom blend of Chinese five-spice.
The brewery will also tap several other new beers, including a Mayan-style chocolate Russian imperial stout and a Belgian-style trippel with coriander and wildflower honey.
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Because Tyler, a mechanical engineer who hails from New York, spent many years in Boston drinking beers like the Alchemist’s Heady Topper, Spice Trade will also feature hazy, juice-forward New England-style IPAs, which became popular in Colorado last year. His first New England-style beer at Yak & Yeti was the 6.3 percent ABV Sun Temple — hopped with El Dorado, Citra and Simcoe varieties — which will become a staple on tap and one of the first beers to be canned.
Tyler would like to can beer at his own brewery, but since Yak & Yeti is located in a 152-year-old former mansion, it simply isn’t feasible, he says. That’s why the company will contract with another brewery to make its two flagships on a temporary basis.
In addition to giving the brewery side of Yak & Yeti’s operations a new focus, the name change will help it avoid a simmering dispute with Great Divide Brewing, which owns the trademark for the word "Yeti" when it comes to beer. Although the first Yak & Yeti restaurant opened before Great Divide began packaging its line of Yeti Imperial Stout beers, Great Divide secured the federal trademark to the word before Yak & Yeti became a brewery, Tyler explains.