Beer Man

Zephyr Brewing Opening in River North Tomorrow

A lot has happened since early 2013, when three Colorado friends -- Brian Wood, Rich Wisniewski and Tyler Shuey -- decided to open a brewery in River North. The neighborhood has grown quickly and now includes eight breweries within walking distance -- while their project, Zephyr Brewing, has suffered through permitting, power and construction delays in the multi-tenant complex where they decided to put their project.

And last December, Shuey passed away. "It was he and I who originally started this," says Wood, who went to elementary school in Aurora with both Wisniewski and Shuey and attended college in Boulder with Shuey as well. "But we decided right away that we couldn't stop, that we wanted to do for him as much as for us. He put in a lot of work."

See also: Zephyr Brewing Is the Latest Startup to Target River North

So despite the loss of their colleague and all the delays, Wood and Wisniewski will officially open the doors to Zephyr Brewing at 4 p.m. on Friday, December 5 (after two soft openings).

"When we first set out, there were only two or three breweries in RiNo, but I think it's a great environment," Woods says. "I've enjoyed most of the breweries in the area and gotten to know some of the people behind them."

Zephyr, which is located in a building where Osaka Ramen, Biju's Little Curry Shop and Park Burger are also opening soon, will have six beers on tap Friday: a milk stout, a chocolate raspberry stout, a pale ale, Belgian wit, Scottish ale and a very small batch of a Belgian quadrupel.

Wood, the head brewer, uses a seven-barrel brewhouse made by Bennett Forgeworks in Ridgway, Colorado. The taproom, which holds 96 people, is decorated in a Colorado theme -- and that focus will increase over time.

For now, there are also some things inside that commemorate Shuey's life.

The name is also something that harkens back to the friendship between the three and to their days growing up: It refers to both the minor league Denver Zephyrs -- a Milwaukee Brewers farm club that used to play baseball at Mile High Stadium before the Colorado Rockies came to town in 1993 -- and to the long-running Denver Zephyr passenger train line that no longer goes through town.

Zephyr Brewing plans to be open every day but Tuesday.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes