Like many great creative ideas, this one began with a beer. Photographer Dustin Hall and his wife had just moved to Denver, and like many newcomers, were checking out the local brewing scene. As they visited breweries, distilleries, and cideries, Hall began to notice that he was just as inspired by his surroundings as he was by the contents of his glass. “What really did it for me was the aesthetics of the different environments—generally speaking, lots of wood up front, lots of metal in the back,” he says.
So he started packing his camera along, venturing beyond the bar to capture all the nooks and crannies of Colorado’s craft breweries. He called his growing collection of photographs the Brewtography Project.
Over time, Hall’s focus shifted from environments to people. “I really started falling in love with the culture of the industry,” he says. “For me it’s about capturing the hard work and passion that goes into brewing that beer.”
To date, Hall has photographed more than 150 Colorado breweries. His images follow the brewing process from raw grains of barley to summer beer festivals, revealing many moments the average beer-drinker will never see. “Even though there are certain steps that have to be taken to brew a beer, it’s done differently based on [each brewer’s] environment and financial means,” says Hall, who believes his own experience as a home-brewer helps him take better photos. “Some brewers are more technical and love to have all of the toys, and some are more traditional. I try to capture the difference from brewery to brewery. Even if you fully understand the process, you will hopefully learn something new—and gain a much greater appreciation for the beer you’re drinking.”
Hall’s work is currently on view at the Hotel Teatro, in a solo exhibition that runs through December 1. To celebrate the event, the hotel’s restaurant, The Nickel, is serving an exclusive brew—a collaboration with Hall and Call to Arms Brewing Company—called the Beautiful Impression. (The oak-fermented Brett farmhouse ale has notes of guava, pineapple, and orange zest, plus a hint of soft vanilla from the oak.) Of course, Hall photographed the brewing process, and a selection of images are included in the exhibition.
This November, with help from a Kickstarter campaign that was fully funded in fewer than eight hours, Hall will release “Discovering Colorado Breweries,” a hefty coffee-table book featuring 222 full-page photos of breweries big and small, from New Belgium to Baere to Crooked Stave. “I want the photography to tell [their] stories,” Hall says, “and to be a catalyst for people to go visit breweries.”
“Discovering Colorado Breweries” will be sold at select Colorado breweries, local bookstores, and, Hall hopes, on Amazon. Prints from the Hotel Teatro exhibition are also available for purchase. For more information, visit brewtographyproject.com.