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Tom Schurmann, founder of the new 6 and 40 Brewery in Lakewood, came at his new venture from a different direction than many beer makers, who often fall in love with the craft by brewing at home. For Schurmann, a 43-year veteran of the automotive detailing industry, it all started with an attraction to the brewing equipment.
“I’m geeking out over this stuff,” says Schurmann. “With cars, it was chrome. Now, I have high-polished stainless-steel tanks and it’s like I’m in heaven.”
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Schurmann’s path from auto shop to brewery was not a straight one. About 30 years ago, while Schurmann was running his Denver area businesses—Rocky Mountain Excalibur and Master Finish, Inc.—he started buying used Coke and Pepsi soda tanks and turning them into compressed air sprayers. He launched a company called Professional Detailing Systems, now known as Professional Dispensing Systems (PDS), which sold the sprayers to businesses including car washes and pharmaceutical companies. PDS even sold 1,000 sprayers to a company specializing in gear for first responders during the pandemic.
In 2007, a friend pointed out to Schurmann the popularity of his tanks among home brewers and urged him to advertise the products on Craigslist. Schurmann did and a successful beer tank retail business was born; three years later, a customer and veteran brewer helped him turn it into a full-blown Lakewood brewery supply store called Tom’s Brew Shop.
By 2017, Schurmann had begun embracing the home-brew culture in earnest, visiting a lot of breweries—and making plans to open his own. “I’ve been running my own businesses for 43 years. For me it was like, ‘Let’s do it right.’ Every brewery I visited, I made mental notes,” says Schurmann. “I made it a study for the last four or five years.”
Today, Schurmann runs 20 taps at 6 and 40 Brewery, which opened in September next door to Tom’s Brew Shop: 13 for his own beers, and the others for kombucha, gluten-free options, and seltzer. The space, which employs over a dozen staff members, is decorated with vintage automotive memorabilia.
“When I went to breweries, I would tell my wife that I don’t want barn wood and industrial chic. I want a 1950s and ’60s gas station theme,” says Schurmann. “I love muscle cars. I had hot Mustangs with hot rod motors in them. I had an Impala SS, all kinds of Ford pick-up trucks. I used to like racing at Bandimere Speedway. I was always a gear head.”
Schurmann’s love for cars is also reflected in the names of his brews: 32 Coupe American Cream Ale; No Emissions Required Hazy Peach Pale Ale; High Test Premium: Boot and Bonnet English Porter with Coffee. The brew pub’s name itself is rooted in the road: The brewery sits at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Colfax Avenue (aka US 40).
The pandemic has been kind to the supply shop, where business has exploded, says Schurmann. “We doubled our income. I used to order a pallet of grain every five or six weeks. But during the height of the pandemic, I was bringing in pallets every four or five days.”
Even with capacity limitations, Schurmann is determined to make things work at 6 and 40. “I worked so hard to get this open. I’m not going to let [the pandemic] stop me,” he says. “I’m 67. My wife said I was crazy when I decided to open a brewery. And I said, ‘I will have a brewery.’”
6 and 60 Brewery is open Monday–Wednesday, 2–8 p.m., and Thursday–Sunday, 12–8 p.m.; 883 Parfet St., Unit J, Lakewood