Brian Dunn lives by downtown Denver. He’s worked, brewed and received loans from the city of Denver. His kids go to public schools nearby. So when it came to building a new brewery, Dunn, the founder and president of Great Divide Brewing Co., knew that he had to stay in the city that has gradually become his home.
He said that he owes it to the city — moving anywhere else would be a slap in the face.
“We’ll become a more important part of the fabric here in the community,” Dunn said.
As it breaks ground, Great Divide, which has long had its headquarters in Denver, will be able to grow beyond its current location and become a bigger player in the community. Dunn envisions the brewery as an entity that welcomes more visitors, but also helps to raise more money for local non-profit organizations. More immediately, Dunn said that the new facility could allow Great Divide to make more hires and better support its employees, especially those starting families and buying houses.
In the video above, Dunn describes the detailed process of preparing for the construction of a new brewery. Knowing that the space needed to be in Denver, no suburbs allowed, it took him a year and a half to find the proper real estate, but Dunn thinks he’s discovered the right spot: a 5.1-acre plot of land that sits less than a mile from the brewery’s current, 19,000 square-foot location at 22nd and Arapahoe in the city’s ballpark neighborhood.
That brewery has been around for 19 years, but steady year-to-year growth of 20 to 50 percent, and an approximated final capacity of about 65,000 barrels at the current location, meant Dunn could see that an expansion of infrastructure would become necessary.
Dunn knew that in the next two and a half to three years, Great Divide would outgrow its current property, which is surrounded by two streets, an alley and a neighbor. The brewery produced about 32,000 barrels last year and will produce about 38,000 to 39,000 barrels this year.
“We know that we have a finite amount of time that we can stay here based on our growth,” he said.
The new brewery will initially produce about 100,000 barrels with a final capacity of about 250,000 barrels, which Dunn said could be reached in 15 to 20 years. Once built, he plans to eventually enter new markets and add an outdoor beer garden. While Great Divide’s current location has a patio, Dunn said that he couldn’t build the garden there because of limited space. With enough room at the new location, he’ll be able to construct a tranquil drinking place.
“It’s important to us, to me anyways, to be able to drink beer outside,” Dunn said. “So we’ve found enough space to put a nice beer garden in, overlooking the mountains.”
Denver mountains, to be exact.