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After four years sitting vacant, the 150-year-old building on the corner of York Street and East 28th Avenue has undergone a major makeover. Large windows line two of the four walls, illuminating the exposed brick inside. Shelves are stocked with kitchen essentials like pasta, ketchup, and local goods (including snacks like Gnarly Mountain Cookies). But it’s in front of the far back wall where you’ll find the main attraction: the bar. This is Ephemeral Rotating Taproom, a place where Denver beer lovers can discover brews from all over the world—without traveling farther than the Skyland neighborhood.
The concept is the brainchild of co-owners Weston Scott and Shannon Lavelle. Scott first had the idea to bring outside-of-Denver suds to the city when working sales for mountain-based breweries in 2016. After six years of planning, scouting locations, and teaming up with fellow beer lover Lavelle, his grain of an idea sprouted into Ephemeral.
“The idea kind of became, ‘If I could open up a taproom in Denver for the summer months, business would go up,’” he says. “And then that morphed into its own business.”
Located at 2301 East 28th Avenue, Ephemeral will serve up to 20 draft beers from a rotating, featured brewery. The taproom plans to serve creations from each brewery for about three to four weeks before moving on to a new menu. “If a brewery is really popular and [the beer] goes quicker, it goes quicker,” Scott says. “The popularity of each specific brewery will kind of determine the timeline on that.”
For Ephemeral’s grand opening on June 18, the beers on tap will be from Toppling Goliath out of Decorah, Iowa. Next up on its rotating roster is Boneyard from Bend, Oregon, and some local brews from Greeley.
“We’re hoping to bring in breweries that you don’t see everyday around Denver that get people excited,” Lavelle says. “Like Toppling Goliath, they have three or four beers you see around Denver every so often, but their portfolio is much bigger than that. And so being able to try all of those will hopefully get people as excited as we are.”
But Ephemeral is more than just beer. Scott and Lavelle plan to serve on-tap coffee, kombucha, and local noshes, including handhelds from Maria Empanada. The co-owners were also inspired by the building’s history as Ben’s Market, a family-owned corner store, and Ephemeral will have a mini market of its own to pay homage to the past neighborhood staple.
Built in the 1890s, the space was home to the Okubo family’s Ben’s Market for much of the 20th century. The family opened the store when they moved to Denver after being interned at Camp Amache during World War II. According to Historic Denver, the Okubo family operated the market for generations before shutting the doors in 2018.
“We just immediately got a good vibe from this neighborhood. It’s exactly what we needed, and we feel like it’s what the neighborhood needs,” Lavelle says. “Ben’s was such a landmark and legacy in this neighborhood, we wanted to kind of keep it alive. We weren’t always going to do a market; we were just going to do a taproom. But we saw the need and the desire for it, so it became part of our concept and morphed into something totally unique to what we thought we would be doing.”
In Ephemeral’s final vision, the two creators want it to be “a welcoming watering hole for the neighborhood,” Lavelle says.
“We both work full-time outside of this, so it’s been hard; but it’s definitely both of our greatest passions right now,” she says. “I personally have never been more excited about anything I’ve done.”
Starting June 18, Ephemeral will be open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.; 2301 E. 28th Ave.
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