Greeley’s Brix Taphouse and Brewery serves only Colorado-brewed beers including, after receiving the necessary license, its own. “Our main goal is to introduce new beers to people – beers nobody else has ever seen,” co-owner Troy Milburn said. Joel Blocker/For BizWest

Brix Taphouse celebrates wealth of Colorado brews

Collaboration credited as aid to state’s startups

GREELEY — How prolific has the state’s craft-beer industry become? It’s now so pervasive that a new taphouse in downtown Greeley can have 60 separate Colorado-made brews on tap at once – including some different ones every time a customer walks in.

In a state with 117 licensed brewpubs and 169 other craft breweries – and counting – it’s no wonder. And that’s not even counting the ever-growing number of wineries and distilleries.

That surge in popularity is reflected across the nation. The Boulder-based Brewers Association reported March 17 that in 2014, craft breweries reached a double-digit volume share of the U.S. marketplace – 11 percent – for the first time.

“We usually drain three kegs a day,” said Troy Milburn, co-owner of Brix Taphouse and Brewery, which held its grand opening Jan. 31 at 813 Eighth St. in Greeley. “So as we rotate through, we usually have three new beers on tap every day.”

Some of the beers come through distributors, Milburn said, but others are delivered to the taproom by the brewers themselves. “These guys are self-distributors,” he said. “They bring their kegs up here, pick up their empties and put pints in the cooler.” Milburn occasionally also has to go pick up kegs from small brewers himself.

A few of the taps stay the same because Milburn and partner Justin Hiatt like to support Weld County-based brews such as those from Broken Plow, Crabtree, Weld Works and Wiley Roots in Greeley, High Hops in Windsor and Echo in Frederick. But the rest might come from anywhere in Colorado – and as soon as Brix gets its federal license, Milburn said, its own creations will be part of the lineup.

“We’ve finished our last set of paperwork,” he said.

Even so, Brix already has collaborated with other breweries twice, Milburn said. The first was “Boots N Socks,” a holiday Baltic porter with special malt, cinnamon and Chinese star anise, that was a collaboration with Echo and sold out quickly. The second, “Brixworks,” a partnership with Nick Callaway at Loveland Aleworks, is a black ale that was made in a 10-barrel batch using 35 pounds of New Zealand hops. Some of that one is still around, Milburn said.

Troy Milburn, left, and Justin Hiatt, co-owners of Brix Taphouse & Brewery in Greeley, stand in front of 60 taps that feature Colorado beers. Joel Blocker/For BizWest

“We’ll be doing one of our guest-brewer collaborations every month,” Milburn said, “and then on some Friday nights we’ll have ‘tap takeovers,’ where one brewer comes in and puts seven of their leading beers on tap at once. There’ll be free T-shirts, and if you buy one of their beers you might get one of their pint glasses to keep.” The first tap takeover was March 13, when Odell Brewing Co. of Fort Collins paid a call.

Won’t all those breweries eventually leave the state’s craft-beer market – pun only partially intended – oversaturated? Hiatt doesn’t think so.

“All the craft breweries work together so well,” he said. “Over the years, that kind of generosity toward each other has helped new ones get started.”

For Brix, that spirit of collaboration goes beyond beer, Milburn said. “We have the same challenge everyone downtown has on Sundays and Mondays, so we’ve come up with things to help each other out” – such as partnering with The Nerd Store, two doors down, to have a Monday game night in the taproom.

Justin Hall

“We’re very family oriented, especially since we share our building with a dance studio,” Milburn said, “so we have a lot of moms and dads come in. We don’t just have beer; we have some Colorado sodas, and a limited bar menu with paninis, soft pretzels, flatbread pizza and bacon-wrapped dates.”

That dance studio, the Conservatory of Dance, is owned by Hiatt’s wife, Katie – and her mother owns the late 19th-century building in which Hiatt and Milburn spent nearly $300,000 to outfit Brix’s 1,200-square-foot taproom, 800 square feet of production and storage, and a basement full of walk-in coolers.

Milburn should know about building breweries. The other business he owns, Vulcan Fabrication in Johnstown, builds piping, tanks, chillers, boilers and many of the other accoutrements craft breweries need, While working on a remodeling job at Crabtree Brewing Co., Milburn met Hiatt, who was a foreman for his father’s company, Platteville-based Eckstine Electric. The pair decided to start their own brewery, and the idea for Brix was born.

Milburn’s wife, Tracy, came up with the name Brix, which is the scientific measurement of sugar in a solution.

“Our main goal,” Hiatt said, “is to introduce new beers to people – beers nobody else has ever seen.” Milburn added that another goal is to get people to come to Greeley.

“We believe downtown Greeley is definitely on the rise,” Milburn said, “and it’s just amazing how we’ve been treated by all the other businesses on Ninth and Eighth streets.”

With nearly 300 craft breweries already calling Colorado home and new ones announcing their plans every month, Milburn and Hiatt shouldn’t have much trouble keeping their 60 taps flowing.

“We weren’t in this craft-beer boom from the beginning,” Hiatt said, “but we’re along for the ride now.”

Dallas Heltzell can be reached at 970-232-3149, 303-630-1962 or dheltzell@bizwestmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DallasHeltzell.

Collaboration credited as aid to state’s startups

GREELEY — How prolific has the state’s craft-beer industry become? It’s now so pervasive that a new taphouse in downtown Greeley can have 60 separate Colorado-made brews on tap at once – including some different ones every time a customer walks in.

In a state with 117 licensed brewpubs and 169 other craft breweries – and counting – it’s no wonder. And that’s not even counting the ever-growing number of wineries and distilleries.

That surge in popularity is reflected across the nation. The Boulder-based Brewers Association reported March 17 that in 2014, craft breweries reached a double-digit volume share of the U.S. marketplace – 11 percent – for the first time.

“We usually drain three kegs a day,” said Troy Milburn, co-owner of Brix Taphouse and Brewery, which held its grand opening Jan. 31 at 813 Eighth St. in Greeley. “So as we rotate through, we usually have three new beers on tap every day.”

Some of the beers come through distributors, Milburn said, but others are delivered to the taproom by the brewers themselves. “These guys are self-distributors,” he said. “They bring their kegs up here, pick up their empties and put pints in the cooler.” Milburn occasionally also has to go pick up kegs from small brewers himself.

A few of the taps stay the same because Milburn and partner Justin Hiatt like to support Weld County-based brews such as those from Broken Plow, Crabtree, Weld Works…