After four years of growth and change in Denver, Zuni Street Brewing is planning to add a second, larger location in the mountain town of Crested Butte, where owner Willy Truettner has family ties.
The Zuni West Brewery & Taproom, which is being built in Crested Butte South outside the main downtown, will include a twenty-barrel brewing system and a canning line that will allow Truettner to begin packaging and selling cans. The two-story, 8,000-square-foot building will also have two bars, a barrel room, a large second-story deck with mountain views, and space for a kitchen, which he will lease to an outside operator.
"The town loves to drink," Truettner says, "and people always want local beer, so we said let's give them something that we make right here." Although there is already one brewery in Crested Butte, Truettner says there is "a lot of room for another. ... There is a void and a need and a want for another local craft brewery."
Truettner should know. He spent most of his childhood in the town after his father moved there in the early 1990s; he also met the woman whom he eventually married — Theresa, a Crested Butte native — in high school there. After college, Truettner worked for two years at Bell's Brewery in Michigan and three years at New Belgium Brewing before opening Zuni Street in 2017 with another former classmate, T.J. Slattery. The two had a falling out in late 2019, though, and Truettner bought Slattery out in February 2020.
"And then a week later, the world shut down," he says about the pandemic. "That was tough. Every week it seemed like there was a different hurdle. But we learned a lot through COVID, and the brewery has flourished."
As a result, the Truettners started talking about a dream of theirs to build a second brewery somewhere in the mountains. They scoped out a number of towns before realizing that the answer "was kind of right in front of us the whole time," he says, adding that the family will own the building once it is completed.
Located eight miles south of downtown, Crested Butte South got its start in the 1980s and has since become one of the primary bedroom communities for the year-round population of the town. There aren't that many businesses, though, so Truettner says people are ecstatic about Zuni Street's arrival.
"Zuni Street has built a good name for ourselves and a good brand, and I'm ready to take it to the next level," he explains. Although he has added one fermentation tank at the brewery in Denver, Truettner says there just isn't enough affordable space there to grow any more or package beer. Plus, he'd like to focus his distribution efforts on the mountains, and says he's already gotten some beers on tap in Crested Butte.
Eventually, Truettner will move his family to Crested Butte and leave the day-to-day operations of the Denver brewery in the hands of his head brewer and taproom manager. Construction on the new location should begin in May, and Truettner hopes to open in spring 2022.
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