Broken Compass celebrates two years in Breckenridge
What was once a main concern when owners Jason Ford and David Axelrod first opened Broken Compass Brewing, turned out to be a driving force behind the growth of the business. Early on, the partners looked for a Main Street location for their brewery, ending up on Continental Court, tucked away from the crowded streets of downtown. But it was partly this off-the-beaten path spot that helped the business became a locals’ haven, a brewery with strong ties to the community.
“Starting out here really built that solid foundation of a community brewery and a locals’ spot — the tourists had to work for it; it wasn’t just tripping into it off Main Street,” Axelrod said. “Because of that, it’s been a great ride. It’s tied us into the community, it’s put us right where we had hoped — kind of what we had hoped to create just in a different way. We didn’t know if people would come a mile and a half off Main Street to have a beer.”
As the two business partners sit outside in their new outdoor patio on one of the rare sunny days of May, they discuss how far they’ve come just a week shy of celebrating their second anniversary at Broken Compass.
“It’s hard to imagine, you can’t ever really know, but it’s absolutely amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish in two years,” Ford said. “And where we are headed, not only with what we are doing now, but what it can afford us in the near future.”
The brewery has become such a favorite in Breckenridge, the two have been talking of plans for expansion since day one.
“Is it everything we hoped for? Heck yeah,” Axelrod adds.
To celebrate two years, the Broken Compass owners want to say thank you to the community that has welcomed them with such open arms. The brewery is hosting an all-day anniversary party on Saturday, May 21, starting with kegs and eggs at 10 a.m. for the first 50 people to show up. A stage will be set up outside with local bands playing throughout the day, and Broken Compass will be giving away 300 meals with a pig from Moe’s Original Bar B Que and sides from 5 Star Catering.
“None of this is possible without the entire community supporting us so much,” Axelrod said. “The love and support that we’ve had through this community — they all tell their friends, they all send other people out, it’s just been incredible.”
PLANS FOR EXPANSION
Ford and Axelrod have been thinking about expansion since the beginning. It’s no secret that it’s sometimes hard to find seating on a crowded evening, and, for the short term, the brewery recently added an outdoor patio, which doubles the amount of space where guests can drink.
“It’s so perfect,” Axelrod said. “It’s southern facing with great views of the mountains, right off the bike path. In the middle of an industrial park it’s pretty sweet.”
To alleviate growing pains for the long term, the owners began looking for a different property that could accommodate a larger space. They recently secured a location near the Breckenridge Distillery, with plans to build a new brewery from the ground up. They hope to open the new location around Thanksgiving 2017.
“Pretty much from day one, we were trying to figure out how to expand and how to make more space,” Axelrod said. “We were limited here; we can’t go any further in this building unfortunately.”
They plan to break ground on the dirt lot next spring. Axelrod, who received an MBA in sustainable business alongside Ford’s wife, would like to implement these practices into the new building.
“Our goal is to build the most sustainable brewery ever,” he said. “How close we get is a matter of financing and creative genius.”
At this point, they are still in the planning stages of what they can accomplish with that goal in mind. But, he said he’d like to take a systems-design approach to making the building more sustainable, like recapturing heat from the brew process, as well as use passive and active solar.
“Just looking at how you construct the building and making sure you’ve got good southern exposure to capture all the great sun we have up here, as well as tying your systems together,” he said. “If you have heat off the brew process, well, you can pump that back in and say, melt the snow off your patio. That’s a great usage of your energy right there rather then just letting it go up the chimney.”
On the flip side, they also want to take the usually lower-in-temperature air at night to pump into the cooler to reduce loads on the compressor.
“That’s what we are looking into right now,” Axelrod said. “How far we get down the line again is going to be an engineering and design and financial puzzle.”
The current Broken Compass building is at 2,300 square feet, and the new property has a maximum density of 8,300 square feet, giving them plenty of extra room to work with. They plan to keep the brewery around the same size as what they have now but with double the serving capacity.
“We have capacity; it’s just hard keeping the variety going with the limited number of tanks we have, so we’ll have some more tanks, but the fact that we don’t want to distribute means that we don’t have to expand a lot as far as tank size,” Ford said.
Rather than distributing, the owners decided they’d rather be dedicated to staying local and keeping the quality high.
“We are hyper pro-quality; by keeping it in-house, we don’t have to filter the beer,” Axelrod said. “Beer, once it gets put in a bottle or a can, has a shelf life. All those beers are filtered, and the quality goes down. We can offer a much higher-quality product by not distributing and do more stuff like support the community and build sustainable breweries.”
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