Breckenridge Brewery could be out of its hometown location | SummitDaily.com

Breckenridge Brewery could be out of its hometown location

Jimmy Walker, head brewer at the Breckenridge Brewery, pours a glass of Buddha's Hand, the first beer in the brewery's Mountain Series, in this file photo. With the brewery’s lease not being renewed, Walker is terrified they’ll have to move out of the building that's been home to the brewpub for almost 30 years at the end of June.
Krista Driscoll / kdriscoll@summitdaily.com

Breckenridge Brewery has existed on Main Street in Breckenridge for more than 29 years now, but the brewpub’s future there has come into doubt with a major development regarding the lease.

Despite being the longest running brewpub in Summit County and third oldest in Colorado, Breckenridge Brewery is facing the prospect of losing its Breckenridge home after the property owner “abruptly and inexplicably” backed out of an agreement to renew the brewery’s lease, said head brewer Jimmy Walker.

The people who work at the brewery — some a year or two shy of its original opening in February 1990 — would like to see the homegrown brewpub celebrate its 30th anniversary inside the same building where it first opened, but they’re afraid that won’t happen with the lease at 600 Main St. expiring at the end of June.

“We feel like we built this place into what it is, and now that’s under threat to be taken away,” Walker said, emphasizing there was a deal in place with the property owner.

An attorney with the brewpub’s legal and corporate affairs team confirmed via email that they also believed there was an agreement with the property that would allow the brewpub to stay. However, that deal apparently fell through, as it now appears that the brewery has a month before it must vacate the building it’s called home for almost three decades.

“The current lease is up June 30,” the attorney said, explaining that while the brewery thought it had an agreement with the owner, they recently had a change of mind.

Property records list the owner as the Breckenridge Brewery Real Estate company. The Colorado Secretary of State has a local attorney’s office as the company’s registered agent, but messages left with the attorney’s office on Friday were not returned.

It all leaves the brewery wondering what to do with little notice, said Walker, who didn’t want to discuss the lease or negotiations in detail out of fear he might say something that could jeopardize their chances of staying.

He agreed that what might happen to all of the brewery’s equipment and the more than 60 people who work there — people Walker and the brewery’s general manager Sarah Hanley both call “family” — are two great questions that they don’t have answers for right now.

“I just know the staff’s totally worried to death,” Walker said.

“And it’s more than a job,” Hanley added. “This is like our family. We’re all in this together. … It’s a lot to lose.”

It seems unlikely Breckenridge Brewery could secure another location in town and move in by June 30, especially if a new brewpub has to be built. However, it also doesn’t sound like Breckenridge Brewery, which was bought by Anheuser-Busch in 2015, could go without a presence in its namesake town.

“Anheuser-Busch is super committed to us staying in the community,” Hanley said of preserving a local residence that’s become the brewery’s “innovation center” with its main brewery now in Littleton.

What that local presence might look like remains to be seen. While the thought of moving into a brand new building would be “tempting,” Walker said, it’s not what they really want for Breckenridge Brewery.

“The place is 29 years old and it’s falling apart, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said, adding that it’s where it all started and grew up with the business to help make Breckenridge Brewery what it is today.

What it might take to stay — if that’s even possible — wasn’t immediately clear as Walker, Hanley and the attorney from the brewery’s legal team all said they don’t have an answer to that question, either.

And the brewery’s “amazing longevity” isn’t just with the Breckenridge building, they said. Walker, who loves talking about the brewery’s many local philanthropic efforts, has worked there for 22 years — and he’s only the fourth most senior employee.

“We have a lot of longevity in these walls,” said Hanley, who’s worked there herself for more than 19 years.

“We built this place together,” Walker continued. “People aren’t just walking in and walking out to another job. We’re totally invested in Breckenridge Brewery and all the people who work here are invested in the community. Our whole lives are here at the pub.”


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