originally posted over at the Denver Post – Read the Article Here
De Steeg Brewing – Denver’s newest nanobrewery – to open this weekend
The little brewery and tasting room is hidden away in a north Denver alley, its presence marked by a simple black and white sign bearing the image of a Belgian-style glass.
Inside, 30-year-old Craig Rothgery is making final preparations for this Friday’s opening of De Steeg Brewing (the name is Dutch for “the alley,”) Denver’s latest neighborhood nanobrewery.
“I really don’t want to put signs all over the place,” Rothgery said. “I like the feeling of people finding a cool, hidden little place.”
Originally from Rochester, N.Y., Rothgery is a mechanical engineer who started homebrewing five years ago and most recently worked in the food industry for Nestle designing the machinery used to make Hot Pockets. When Nestle closed its Denver-area operation last April and relocated the jobs to Ohio, Rothgery took his severance package and started working on the brewery.
After a seven-month search – and doing contract work for Gallo wineries to bridge the gap – Rothgery signed a lease on the space at 4342 N. Tennyson Street. He started building his current brewing rig – a 1.25 barrel system – in 2011.
“I have a tendency to err toward the higher alcohol stuff – 8 percent (alcohol by volume) and above,” Rothgeny said. “I just like bolder, bigger beers. I don’t think I make hop bombs. I like to do balanced beers.”
Although the opening lineup has yet to be finalized, the confirmed beers feature a couple of lower-alcohol offerings. There’s a Pomegranate-Acai Wheat (5.5 percent ABV), an Imperial Pumpkin (11 percent ABV) and an English Mild on nitro (5.1 percent).
“I do love Belgian beers, but it’s not what I focus on,” Rothgery said. “I think it’s pretty obvious I don’t have a focus.”
Rothgery originally named his brewery High Gravity Brewing, but that was a little too close to the name of another start-up brewery, Gravity Brewing in Louisville. The owner of Gravity contacted Rothgery via Facebook, the two talked, and Rothgery agreed to find a different name that happened to better suit what he is trying to accomplish anyway, he said.
The amicable nature of the conversation stands in contrast to the trademark tussle between Denver’s Strange Brewing Co. and a Masssachussetts homebrew and winemaking supply business with a similar name.
“It was nice to just talk and not get a stupid letter in the mail from a lawyer,” Rothgery said.
The Highland area has gone from barren of breweries to flush with them in short order. Hogshead Brewery, Crooked Stave’s tasting room and Prost Brewing all have opened in the last year. Hops and Pie, a craft beer bar and restaurant that expanded its space last year and is planning a brewery of its own, is just a few blocks down from De Steeg. Nearby Wheat Ridge is undergoing a craft beer renaissance of its own with the recent opening of Brewery Rickoli and the soon-to-debut Colorado-Plus Liquid Art Works.
Rothgery hasn’t settled on regular hours for his 33-seat taproom yet but initially will be open Fridays and Saturdays. This Friday’s opening coincides with the First Friday art walk on Tennyson, and tap room hours will be 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. De Steeg also be open Super Bowl Sunday (there is a TV).
De Steeg’s manufacturer’s license does not allow Rothgery to sell growlers, but he said he will eventually secure that licensing.
Rothgery said he will upgrade to a 5-barrel system if enough people find his hidden little spot in the alley.