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New Kids On The (Beer) Block

More than 20 new breweries will show off their beer-making chops on Thursday. Meet them.

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Whatever your lunch plans are on Thursday, eat something light. You’re going to want to save your appetite (and calories) for New Kids On The Block at The Lobby in RiNo. The event features unlimited tastings from 20 new Colorado breweries (meaning they’ve opened within the past two years), music, and for those who purchase a VIP ticket, a three-course dinner with beer pairings. But don’t head in uneducated. To help you get to know the men and women behind all that ale you’re enjoying, we asked The New Kids On The Block to tell us a little something about what it’s like to own a brewery in the best beer city in the country.


Alpine Dog Brewing Company
Gardiner Hammond, owner and brewer

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What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
Bringing many parts of a puzzle together at the same time. Between finding a location, licensing, construction, and brewing equipment lead times, it took a lot of planning and work to make it happen.

Biggest surprise along the way?
No huge surprises; we knew it would be a ton of work, which it is. And it’s beer, so we knew it would be a ton of fun, which it is!

Baere Brewing Company
Kevin Greer and Ryan Skeels, owners/brewers

What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
Transitioning from wanting to brew and share beer to running a full-fledged business. It was a whole lot easier to just give beer away to friends than to learn how to support our families with it.

Biggest surprise along the way?
The number of moving parts. Every day something new appears, something that has become routine will hiccup, and an old frustration will become smoother.

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Boggy Draw Brewery
David Miera, owner

What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
With so many dynamics to running a brewery, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that needs attention. We’re always working on being organized so we can stay focused on what we’re good at.

C Squared Ciders
Andy Brown, “Person in Charge”

What’s been the most rewarding part about opening a brewery?
I still get a little tingle when I go out to bars and restaurants and see someone I don’t know order one of my ciders, sip it, and smile.

What was the biggest surprise along the way?
I didn’t think the ginger cider would be our best seller, but it is just crushing it.

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Call to Arms Brewing Company
Jesse Brookstein, proprietor and taproom manager

What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
I think the biggest challenge for us started at the very genesis of the business—finding partners who you could not only trust, but also had the correct skill-sets to build a concept into a functioning brewery. It’s one thing to have ideas, but it’s working together and trusting in one another’s abilities that allowed us to form the cohesive framework for Call to Arms.

What was the biggest surprise along the way?
Each and every week brings surprises—some of which I would have never thought imaginable. We’ve just accepted that curveballs can come at any given moment, and all we can really do is regroup, put our heads together in search of a healthy solution, and hope we’ve done our best to move the company forward in a positive direction.

Cerebral Brewing
Sean Buchan, owner/head brewer

What’s been the most rewarding part about opening a brewery?
Growing our team. We have several employees who have been with us from the beginning and are truly becoming family.

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Biggest surprise along the way?
The biggest surprise we encountered was just how welcoming the community has been. We hoped the neighborhood would be supportive, but couldn’t have dreamed they’d be this amazing. They come in through the rain, snow, and freezing cold, and we love them for it.

Comrade Brewing Company
David Lin, chairman and founder

What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
Endless waiting—for demolition permits, construction permits, building inspection, electrical inspection, liquor licensing from Colorado and the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau).

Biggest surprise along the way?
Having zero percent employee turnover since we opened nearly two years ago.

FERMÆNTRA
Brennan Mann, owner and brewer

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What’s been the most rewarding part about opening a brewery?
Seeing return and new customers sharing in the joy of something you’ve created.

What was the biggest surprise along the way?
The amount of money owed to municipalities, agencies, lenders, etc.

Fiction Beer Company
Ryan Kilpatrick, owner/head brewer

What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
When we first opened I would have said it was working through Denver’s red tape. Now I think the biggest challenge is trying to balance the need for smart growth with the want of growing fast. There has to be a happy medium.

What’s been the most rewarding?
Talking to customers who say that one of our beers is their favorite. Of all the breweries in Denver, all the [beers] available at liquor stores, this customer thinks that one of our beers is their favorite… truly humbling and makes all the hard work and long days worthwhile.

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Finkel & Garf Brewing Co.
Dan Garfinkel, owner

What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
Getting our systems and processes down so that we can continue to produce a wide variety of high-quality beers. The excitement never stops, so, as we continue to grow, each system or process is being tweaked to allow for more production and new beers.

Goldspot Brewing Company
Matt Hughes, co-owner and brewer

What’s been the most rewarding?
When the taproom is packed full of people enjoying the beer that I make, I totally swell with pride. Those people are all there because they love beer, and they’re drinking beer that I made. It’s an incredible feeling.

Horse & Dragon Brewing Company
Carol Cochran, co-owner

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What’s been the most rewarding part about opening a brewery?
Unquestionably, it’s the people we’ve gotten to meet—folks from other breweries, people in our taproom, and our own Horse & Dragon team.

Biggest surprise along the way?
We are located in an industrial area, in a warehouse that used to be an airplane hangar at the old Fort Collins airstrip. We located here because we wanted space for production and warehousing, and we’re not on any route that anyone would just happen by. We had no idea how many people would make the effort to find us here. The craft culture is strong in Colorado, for sure.

Little Machine Beer
Benjamin Chenard, co-founder and manager of business operations

What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
Finding the right location. There are a lot of breweries in Denver, so it is challenging to find a spot that is close but not too close to other breweries.

What was the biggest surprise along the way?
Finding out on our opening day that our waste line had been crushed at some point and scrambling to make arrangements so we could still open.

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Living The Dream Brewing Company
Carrie Knose, owner

What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
Multitasking. There are a million things pulling you in a million directions. From equipment to construction to licensing to setting up vendors, it’s a real challenge to keep it all moving forward

What was the biggest surprise along the way?
The way the community has been so accepting of us, and how many friends we have made in the industry.

Lost Highway Brewing Company
James Pachorek, beer crusader

What’s been the most rewarding?
Seeing the looks on people’s faces when they drink our beer and love the product.

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What was the biggest surprise along the way?
Finding out the building we are in was originally owned by a member of the Rocky Mountain Belgian club in 1925, and how crazy it is that it ties into our brewing concept—Belgium’s Oldest Tradition On America’s Longest, Wickedest Street.

Mockery Brewing
Zach Rabun, owner and brewer

What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
Differentiating ourselves from the multitude of awesome breweries in Colorado. At Mockery Brewing, we think of each new beer as a chance to tell a story.

What was the biggest surprise along the way?
The biggest surprise was being named the public’s pick for best new brewery in the 2015 edition of 5280’s Top of Town. We appreciate every single customer who chooses Mockery, because we know they have a plethora of other outstanding breweries to choose from.

Nighthawk Brewery
Nikki Hall, graphic designer and co-owner

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What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
Coming to realize just how little we actually knew when we were starting out. It was a rather humbling and daunting realization, but we came to understand that, just like in any other industry, you learn the most from experience. Now we look forward to the opportunities to better our knowledge and understanding of the craft beer world.

What was the biggest surprise along the way?
How willing everyone in the brewing industry is to help each other out.

Ratio Beerworks
Jason zumBrunnen, co-founder/master brewer

What’s been the most rewarding?
Obviously seeing our beer being enjoyed by everyone in the community has been rewarding. In addition, for those of us who drifted from the music scene that helped shape us, it has been fun to reconnect in a meaningful way and contribute again.

Spangalang Brewery
Taylor Rees, Owner/Brewer

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What’s been the most rewarding?
We feel very lucky to be a part of one of Denver’s most historic neighborhoods (Five Points), and we’ve been overwhelmed by the wonderful reception we’ve received.

What was the biggest surprise along the way?
I’m constantly surprised by how adventurous and open-minded our customers are. They love trying new beers and experiencing new flavors and aromas. It certainly keeps us on our toes when it comes to developing new beers.

WeldWerks Brewing Co.
Colin Jones, co-owner

What’s been the most challenging part about opening a brewery?
Maintaining a close-knit team as we continue to get busier and busier. We make communication and relationships priority number one to help foster a great team dynamic.

Biggest surprise along the way?
Winning a silver at GABF for our Hefeweizen; when they called our name it blew our minds!

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Westbound & Down Brewing Company
Dan Brown, co-owner

What’s been the most rewarding?
Seeing something come together that reflects the exact vision we set out to produce. It usually never happens like this. But the look and feel of the build-out, the quality of the beers, and the camaraderie of doing it with great buddies has been incredibly rewarding.

Biggest surprise along the way?
Because we are located in a 100-year-old historic building, there were many surprises along the way. I would say we were continually surprised at the costs throughout the process of retrofitting a building like ours.

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