30 years in, Breckenridge Brewery & Pub has grown into a nationally known brand
BRECKENRIDGE — After more than 30 years nestled along the south side of Main Street, Breckenridge Brewery & Pub remains one of the county’s top destinations for beer and gathering.
The brewery has grown into a nationally recognized brand in that time and a mainstay in bars and liquor stores across the country. While the business continues to grow outside of Summit County, the original brewpub in Breckenridge hasn’t lost its charm — or its drive to create new and exciting products.
“Everyone is familiar with the brand,” Head Brewer Jimmy Walker said. “But when they come to the pub, they get to see where some of the innovation starts. We try to make new beers and new styles and use new ingredients. We really get to be creative, and people get to see that process. They get to try a beer that may be going nationwide a year from now and say, ‘I tried it there first.’ That’s a cool thing to be a part of.”
The brewpub first opened its doors in February 1990. Though, as one of the oldest craft breweries in the state, rapid growth in demand also led to rapid expansion. The brewery opened a second location in downtown Denver in 1992, across the street from where Coors Field would open a few years later.
In 1996, the Denver location relocated to a new site a few miles away on Kalamath Street, where it stayed for about 19 years before settling in its current Littleton location in 2015 — a 12-acre parcel that serves as the brewery’s new production home.
Beer powerhouse Anheuser-Busch acquired Breckenridge Brewery a year later, a move that Walker said allowed him and his team to focus on the more creative side of the business.
“All the brewers at the pub spend all our free time exploring the world of beer,” Walker said. “Whether that means going to other breweries or looking for emerging trends or styles or techniques, we’re always reevaluating everything we do here and looking for how to improve it. But at the end of the day, we make the beer we want to drink, and we don’t always follow the traditional guidelines.”
Walker said that while the brewery’s beers carry recognizable labels, they might not always be conventional. Patrons might taste a little more bitterness in their hazy India pale ales for balance or try “gateway” sours that might change a few reluctant minds.
This story previously published in the Summer 2020 edition of Explore Breckenridge & Summit County magazine.
“We hear people come in all the time and say, ‘I don’t normally like sours, but I like this,’” Walker said. “You get to guide them through the beer exploration process. They can learn why they might like this IPA and not another, and they leave with a better understanding of beer.”
While they’re no longer brewed on-site, fans of some of the brewery’s classics won’t be disappointed.
“People would be shocked if they couldn’t get a Vanilla Porter or an Agave Wheat or an Avalanche,” Walker said. “We happily bring those up to offer.”
The Breckenridge Brewery & Pub continues to thrive, but it has faced some adversity of late. In 2019, the brewery became embroiled in a lawsuit with founder Richard Squire, who died later that year.
The brewery since has signed a new 11-year lease to remain at its original location, allowing the business to further dig its roots into the Breckenridge community while still looking toward the future.
“We give Richard so much credit for starting something so outlandish 30 years ago,” Walker said. “We are all so grateful for everything he did. … 2019 was a year of uncertainty (with our lease). But now it looks like we’re here for the long term, and we’re hoping to give the place a much needed facelift.”
The brewery is hoping to complete some improvements, including the installation of a new brewhouse and updated interior design. Regardless of the look, the brewpub is dedicated to providing the same great experience to everyone who’s come to enjoy the mountains, residents and visitors alike.
“Breckenridge is such a special place,” Walker said. “We all come here because we want to be close to the outdoors, and we want to be a part of that lifestyle. We all have that connection, and I enjoy sharing that over a beer at the pub.”
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