Owner of Angry James Brewery ‘blown away’ by Silverthorne’s response to opening
The Angry James Brewery exploded onto the Silverthorne scene last week with one of the more anticipated grand openings in recent memory.
Even though the large crowds that have flocked to the new digs at 421 Adams Ave. have yet to die down, the new owner said he’s the one who’s “blown away.”
The husband-and-wife team of A.J. and Darcy Brinkerhoff tapped the first kegs at their new brewery on Thursday, something that 35-year-old A.J. Brinkerhoff never would have imagined when he was making beer as a hobby out of his garage six or seven years ago.
In fact, Thursday’s opening was supposed to be a soft one before Friday’s big event, but the anticipation was apparently too great for people to stay home, and cars soon spilled out of the brewery’s parking lot, lining nearby streets and forcing some customers to walk a couple blocks just to get in.
On Friday, the brewery was even busier, and the weekend traffic wasn’t much different. In fact, because of how popular Angry James has been since opening, the brewery is actually going to need to make some more beer this week just to keep up; it’s a good problem to have, Brinkerhoff said.
“Just looking around right now, it’s awesome because I’m looking at a mix of young and older people,” he explained Monday night as he surveyed a packed brewery behind him.
“You’ve got people in here with their kids — that is what a community brewery is supposed to be. If you feel comfortable enough to bring your kids in here and enjoy this place, then I hit my goal.”
Much of what people see at Angry James Brewery is a direct result of the Brinkerhoffs’ family, friends or Summit County connections made along the way to last Friday’s grand opening, including Brinkerhoff’s father-in-law, Wayne Bender, who served as the general contractor.
The Brinkerhoffs purchased the lot on which their new brewery sits after selling their house in Denver to finance the project.
It took the couple longer than expected to open the establishment, but after doing almost all of the work themselves — save the drywall, electrical and some plumbing that had to be inspected — Brinkerhoff really likes what he sees.
Inside, woodwork accentuates much of the building and a large, sliding glass door opens to the southfacing outdoor patio, complete with a gas fire pit.
Building the brewery, Brinkerhoff said it was difficult not seeing things like the fire pit or wood-panneled ceilings as dollar bill signs, especially since they were operating with a limited budget.
But the results speak for themselves, and those are some of the features Brinkerhoff now enjoys the most. He also thinks they’re going to help his business.
“Beer is part psychological,” Brinkerhoff said, explaining that if people like what they see and like how they feel, they’re going to have “a better experience drinking that beer” in that place.
“That’s why we did the fire pit, that’s why we spent the extra money on the wood ceiling, that’s why we have an overly friendly staff,” he continued, “because we just want people to feel like they are welcome, and they are. This place doesn’t run without people coming in, without people drinking beer.”
And Brinkerhoff knows full well that if his new business is to be successful going forward, it will depend on the beer and its reputation.
The philosophy, he said, is traditional brewing with an Angry James twist, and the goal is to have five or six regular beers on tap with another three or four rotating in and out. The brewery has “Angry Hour” from 4-5 p.m. every Monday through Thursday with $1 off beers.
The brewery also features a unique space for Mountain Lyon Café to offer food-truck style meals. The owner of the café can do amazing things in the kitchen, Brinkerhoff said, and the arrangement works because it allows the brewery to focus on the beer while the café focuses on the food.
Brinkerhoff also knows he and his wife are a long way from guaranteeing a successful business at this point.
Still, “to actually have people in here, enjoying what you’re making, I can’t put it into words how fulfilling it is,” he said. “We have to have a functional business — and I have to be professional — but I wish I could go up and hug every customer right now because I’m so happy.”
As for the name Angry James, Brinkerhoff credited his wife for that. Even though he’s typically not an angry person, he said, it was one of the few, cool names for a brewery that wasn’t already taken.
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