The Denver area produces more beer per capita than any other city in America, but there’s only one microbrewery in downtown Denver still packaging and shipping what it produces.
Established in 1994, the Great Divide Brewery is a small craft brewery that currently employs 21 full-time employees. The driving force behind Great Divide is owner Brian Dunn, who was once a home brewer.
“I thought this is what I want to do for a job. So, I wrote a business plan,” Dunn told CBS4.
With a little help from the city, Dunn was able to buy an old dairy and started brewing. His beers quickly won awards.
Dunn says that success has continued. Great Divide brewed 34 percent more beer last year than in 2008. Its products are now found in 32 states and four foreign countries.
“We’re growing, we’re hiring people, we’re buying new equipment, we’re expanding the brewery,” said Dunn.
PHOTO GALLERY: Tour Of The Great Divide Brewery
The free public tours of the brewery have become very popular. Participants can actually talk to the people who brew the beer.
When a CBS4 crew was on the tour, guide Patrick Langlois was offering lots of interesting information about the brewing process.
“If you all are interested in seeing what malt looks like, it kind of looks like Grape Nuts, the cereal,” Langlois said, holding up the malt.
Langlois also described how the bottling process works.
“They will take a pallet of glass and put on this blue thing here, that’s a de-palletizer, that just pushes each level of glass onto the conveyor belt there. Then the bottles come through these three carousels here, that first one rinses them out, this middle one here fills them up and this last one caps them.”
The tour is extensive, detailing every aspect of the brewing process.
“We went to Coors yesterday and this is awesome. I really like the change,” said Brian Brim, a Nebraska resident who came on the tour with his wife Jill and a Denver friend named Craig Meyer.
“I’m somewhat of a regular on Friday. I try to make it down here whenever I can because this is a great brewery,” said Meyer.
“What we tried in the tap house we really liked, it was unique and flavorful,” said Jill Bomberger.
“We’re here on business, so we just wanted to find some cool things to do in Denver,” said Jenelle Masterson, visiting from Virginia.
“Make that cool and refreshing,” added her husband Patrick, who described the brewery’s Espresso Yeti as “very big and bold and very good.”
In addition to the Yet, the brewery features beers like the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale and the Denver Pale Ale, a brew a bartender at the tap room described as an English-style ale.
“There are so many more beer styles as there are wine styles, and the experimentation that can go on between, there’s so many more ingredients in beer than in wine,” said Meyer.
Todd and Meg Lovell described themselves as beer enthusiasts who traveled from Boston to taste Great Divide’s scotch ale.
“This is the cognac of beers. It’s a scotch brewed in a barrel. It’s a little different than what we’re used to. It’s pretty interesting, though,” said Lovell.
The Great Divide Brewing Company is located at 22nd and Arapahoe in downtown Denver. Tours are 3 and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and every hour from 2 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.
Great Divide is included in the Denver Microbrew Tour that takes you to several watering holes from 3 until 5:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.