Chase Engel thinks it’s a travesty that restaurants and bars in Carbondale and Basalt don’t have locally brewed beers to serve. He aims to change that.
Engel and his wife, Aly Sanguily, are in the process of opening Roaring Fork Beer Co. in Carbondale. Their goal is to produce craft beers by the end of December and serve them in a taproom by February or March. A big emphasis of the beer company will be supplying kegs to eating and drinking establishments in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Engel, 30, is head brewer. Sanguily handles marketing and special events.
“It’s always been my dream to have my own brewery,” Engel said.
But he isn’t just a garage hobbyist who is thinking big. Engel has eight years in the brewing industry, starting as a bottler at Ska Brewery in Durango and then working at Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont before his most recent post as head brewer at Aspen Brewing Co. In 2012 he won that brewery’s first medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver — the Super Bowl of the craft-beer industry. He earned a silver medal for Aspen Brewing Co.’s Saison.
So why open a brewery?
“I like to drink, No. 1,” Engel said.
He’s picked the right business on that account.
Then there’s the need as a brewer to do his own thing. Instead of developing several flagship brews like most breweries do, Engel will focus on one flagship, a second line that will be available about nine months a year and a handful of seasonal beers.
“For me, what I like to drink changes by the season,” he said.
He wants to make two or three seasonal beers per year and an occasional “one-off” batch.
His standard will be an extra-pale ale, mellow enough so that it doesn’t scare away newcomers to craft beers but hoppy enough to please more seasoned drinkers. He has been perfecting the recipe for that beer, called Freestone, celebrating streams such as the Crystal River that aren’t dammed. He also plans an American lager that he described as a craft brewer’s take on a big beer company’s lager. In other words, it will be better. He will call it Slaughterhouse Lager, a reference to the rapids on the Roaring Fork River outside Aspen.
For the record, Engel said he enjoys his time on a raft, thus the river connections in the names of the beers.
He said he likes the flexibility of sticking with a couple of main lines and a handful of seasonals.
“I’ve felt a bit creatively hampered in my previous brewing jobs because we had to have the same five or six beers out all the time,” Engel said.
He likes tinkering with new recipes, sharing his findings with friends and trying new brews as a drinker. He figures other craft-beer fans will appreciate that, as well.
Roaring Fork Beer Co. plans to earn a quick reputation among restaurants and bars for producing good beverages. Aspen Brewing Co.’s beers are offered in some restaurants in Aspen. Glenwood Brew Pub produces beers exclusively for itself, as does Carbondale Beer Works. Otherwise there are no local brews available — a “travesty” in Engel’s eyes.
The beer company’s emphasis will be on kegged beer. The Freestone Extra Pale Ale also will be sold in four-packs of 16-ounce cans, he said. All beers will be sold in take-home growlers at the taproom.
Setting up a brewery is a capital-intensive venture that takes a lot of planning, Engel said. He spent a year preparing a business plan and then six months lining up investors, who include some family members.
The production brewery is being constructed at 1831 Dolores Way, near Carbondale’s main bus park-and-ride on Highway 133 and near Fold Community Kitchen. The 3,000-square-foot brewing facility will feature a 15-barrel brewing system, hand-crafted in Colorado by Bennet Forgeworks. The company will start with a 2,000-barrel annual fermentation capacity.
The 900-square-foot taproom will be at 1941 Dolores Way, neighboring the brew room.
“The tasting room will include a front bar and seating area as well as a barrel room in back to feature music and special events on certain nights,” said a statement from the newborn company.
Board by Design, a neighbor of the brewery, will make the furniture, and the interior will feature revolving displays by local artists.
The taproom will be family-friendly with homemade sodas and root beers along with opportunities to taste Roaring Fork Beer Co.’s creations.
Roaring Fork Beer Co.’s initial tag line is “Your source for better beer.”