Broken Compass Brewing in Breckenridge celebrates one-year anniversary |

Broken Compass Brewing in Breckenridge celebrates one-year anniversary

Broken Compass Brewing co-founder David Axelrod chats about beer prior to the brewery's grand opening last May. Broken Compass will celebrate its first anniversary with a pig roast on Saturday, May 30.
Krista Driscoll / Daily file photo |

If you go

What: Broken Compass Brewing’s first anniversary bash and locals’ appreciation party

When: All day Saturday, May 30

Where: Broken Compass Brewing, 68 Continental Court, Breckenridge

Cost: Free pig roast barbecue from Moe’s Original Bar B Que, with sides from Five Star Catering; beer will be available for purchase, including a few specialty brews

More information: Visit or follow the brewery on Facebook

Broken Compass Brewing wants to celebrate its first year of slinging cold, delicious brews out on Continental Court in Breckenridge and thank its loyal locals for their patronage, so the brewery is throwing an anniversary bash on Saturday, May 30, with food, craft beer and a whole lot of love.

“Without the locals, we’re nothing, and the support and love that we’ve gotten from everybody all year, sending tourists our way, coming out and supporting us, is what has really made us,” said David Axelrod, co-founder of Broken Compass. “We feel so thankful; we want to give back.”

Along with a spit-roasted pig from Moe’s Original Bar B Que and all the accompaniments from Five Star Catering, the brewery will be pouring a few specialty beers from co-founder and head brewer Jason Ford’s stash, starting with the brewery’s fan-favorite Coconut Porter aged six months in a rum barrel.

“Then we have our next set of FDFH (Fabulously Delicious, Finely Hopped) Brown in the bourbon barrel,” Ford said. “I have five different barrels and I’m going to release them in order, so people can see what effect the barrel has on the beer and how tough it is to blend whisky. It makes a very different whiskey and a very different beer, even though it’s the same booze going into the barrels.”

Ford also plans to carb up a home-brewed 5-gallon Russian Imperial from his personal collection and bring back the last few half-kegs of a big, bad, 9.6 percent alcohol by volume tripel created this spring in collaboration with Luminous Brewhouse in the brewer’s hometown of Sheridan, Wyoming.

“We have a great vibe out here, hanging out and chilling and getting away from downtown, and it’s no secret the number of people who get sent out here by the locals,” Ford said. “Those parties we had beforehand — the pre-parties, the pre-trials, getting the buzz going early — we got the locals to buy in, and it’s worked out really well.”

Building a community

To prime potential customers for the brewery’s opening last May, the owners hosted a series of keg parties with free samples to whet local beer lovers’ appetites. Kristen Calhoun, the brewery’s so-called muse, said the anticipation leading up to opening was fun, albeit a bit stressful.

“I sleep better at night now,” Axelrod said with a laugh. “Thinking about a year ago, when we were brewing that first batch and we were just scrambling to get our doors open and wondering if everything that we’d put on paper would work. And my dreams of what Broken Compass would be, really now they are there. It’s become real.”

The owners of Broken Compass had the goal of creating a focal point for the community, a place to relax and enjoy a carefully crafted beer or three.

“That’s one of the things that we really talked about when we were in our planning stages, thinking of this as a concept,” said Jo Ford, the third co-founder of Broken Compass. “We want to be a community-focused place, where the community can hang out. I feel like we’ve accomplished that to some degree. I hope our local customers would say the same.”

A point of pride for owners and employees, and a measuring stick for that goal, is the brewery’s wildly popular Monday night potluck dinners, where locals bring their best dishes to compete for beer and brewery swag. Calhoun said the potlucks have been the source of some of her favorite memories from the brewery’s first year in existence.

“People really started bringing their ‘A’ game,” she said of the competition. “It was like having Thanksgiving every Monday night with strangers, just a really cozy, homey feeling. One of our regulars who comes to potluck, when his mom came to town, she made her chicken green chili. You know you’ve done something great when it’s generational.”

Giving back

Broken Compass has spent the past year supporting charitable endeavors around Summit County to further give back to the community that helped the brewery get off the ground.

“Even our first year, we were involved with a lot of stuff up here,” Jason Ford said. “For as small as we are, sometimes that stuff’s kind of tough, giving up a $700 keg to charity, but we’ve done a lot of that because it’s what we wanted to do.”

Axelrod fired off three that were top of mind as being particularly rewarding to him personally, starting with the High Country Conservation Center’s Tim McClure benefit.

“We really got our roots, our start, when Jo and I met getting our MBAs in sustainable business, so being able to promote HC3 is absolutely huge for us in terms of our ethics and what we’re trying to do in the community,” he said. “The Dwight Brill foundation, it’s a fund for people, ski-area workers, who are disabled and can’t afford bills, people who fall on hard times health-wise and need help.

“Being a ski instructor for 14 years, that’s all my friends. Being able to give back to those who have fallen on hard times is really super special for me because one fall, that could be me — and all of us, really — and to help provide a little bit of a safety net was really important.”

The third in Axelrod’s trifecta was being a part of the of the grand opening celebration for the new Breckenridge Arts District in September, supporting the town in terms of growing culturally, which he said was really special.

“We were pretty humbled and honored to be considered part of that art community, being craft brewers,” he said.

Down the road

Looking to the future, the founders of Broken Compass agree that the sky’s the limit, from growing the brewery’s name through more draft distribution accounts locally and on the Front Range, to considering the pros and cons of bottling and even the possibility of adding a taphouse on Main Street in Breckenridge to connect with more people.

“We’ll definitely move to Main Street when the time is right and the place is right, but we’re really happy that we have that solid local support and a nice community-gathering place when the town is so busy and no one really wants to brave the crowds,” Axelrod said.

“If we do find the right spot on Main, I’m looking forward to mixing it up in town. And really, I think getting a place on Main Street is going to keep out there more of a locals’ spot. It takes some of the pressure off the Continental Court location, and it’ll keep it more local, friendly and chill.”

Jason Ford said he’s looking forward to getting in the groove with beer production so he’ll have more time to get involved on the industry side of craft beer, and the brewery will still be devoted to experimenting with new brews, from big, bold ales to single-hopped IPAs to growing its barrel-aging projects. Overall, the growth and change over the past year have “just been awesome,” he said.

“I really think back a year ago and appreciate all the local support and how crowded and packed it was and that was just awesome to see,” Jo Ford said. “It’s been quite the whirlwind.”

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