During the 2019 CBC in Denver, I had the opportunity to drop into the New Belgium Denver Pilot while touring several of the breweries in the River North Art District (RiNo) and Larimer areas. Denver has the blessing of so many great spaces to check out, and this walking tour didn’t disappoint, especially as I burned off the beer in between each stop. I was especially intrigued to learn more about New Belgium’s satellite concept. As the industry and craft market continues to evolve, I wanted to see first hand how they’ve explored and implemented this idea. Afterwards, I followed up with their Event and Marketing Manager, Emily Dufficy, who talked thru the Pilot concept with me. She’s worked with New Belgium for over 7 years. Prior to the launch, she was the in-house events coordinator in Fort Collins. It was a great conversation to have as I think thru how New Belgium and other breweries can best take advantage of the “satellite” concept in their growth plans.
New Belgium found a home for the pilot in the creative adaptive reuse project called “The Source.” The overall development is extremely well detailed. There are many different uses at play within the mix of old and new structures. The food culture is definitely up front and present with lots of striking visuals and thoughtful use of graphics and materials. The Denver Pilot’s space is centrally located along Brighton Blvd with garage doors spilling out onto the sidewalk immediately connecting the brewhouse to streetscape. Their first batch was brewed in early December of 2018. It’s definitely production forward in a fairly tight ground floor space. In fact, the space leaves little room for a tasting area or a small bar. However, this dilemma is resolved with a roof top above the Hotel with the Pilot’s beers on tap for plenty of hangout space. Following the New Belgium value of sustainability, this location also showcases those ideals throughout the design of the facility. Choosing this location gave New Belgium a lease location that continued to be in tune with those values of how the built environment should be respected.
There is an odd design element noticeable here in that the ground floor brewery doesn’t really have a defined front door for the public. Emily brought this up in our conversation, and I immediately recalled that the entry process was a bit unconventional while I was trying to make my way inside. When the garage doors are open, it’s easy to just step right inside from the sidewalk, which is very cool and informal. Otherwise, you do have to take a little bit of a circuitous route to the interior side door. If you head straight to the roof bar, you end up bypassing the whole brewery experience. Make sure to check out both—they’re worth it!
I asked what one of her favorite parts was of being part of the Denver Pilot. She greatly enjoys the fact that the Pilot gives her and New Belgium a unique and direct connection into the Denver market, an hour south of their home base in Fort Collins. More specifically, their location at The Source has autonomy in its brews, distinct from the parent facility. Their head brewer, Hal, has creative license to explore unique styles in Denver. By choosing a food centric location like The Source, they also have smartly formed a tight bond with the nearby restaurants for pairing concepts and drawn inspiration from the surrounding kitchens. The brewery includes a 10 bbl brewhouse with 4 fermenters. With only a couple batches a week, their production has been modest, but they are aiming more to serve primarily to the restaurants on site and the Hotel roof bar. Emily mentioned some initial self-distribution hurdles as they learned some new facets to their business, but those were quickly figured out.
For Emily, being in the Denver market also creates exciting opportunities for location specific branding and event planning centered around their RiNo location while still being connected to the larger New Belgium team. We both agreed that satellite locations were likely to be more prevalent going forward as a viable and exciting growth option for many breweries.
Having opened just a year ago and with GABF just around the corner, their one-year anniversary next month promises to be a bit hectic. If you’re in Denver be sure to drop by, say hello, and check it all out!