Frisco’s HighSide Brewery gets a new head brewer
HighSide Brewing’s new head brewer, Thomas Larsen, is bringing over 20 years of brewing experience to the Frisco brewery.
Originally from Denver, Larsen said he has been coming up to Summit County all his life, starting out on skis when he was 3 years old. Larsen began his brewing career in the late 1990s at the Wynkoop Brewing Co. in Denver. He worked his way up to head brewer before spending eight years in Durango at Ska Brewing Co.
In August 2020, HighSide owner David “Ax” Axelrod asked Larsen to join the team. Axelrod said the two had been talking about working together for years, and the timing finally worked out in the fall when the head brewer position opened up at HighSide.
“I met Thomas when we were starting Broken Compass (Brewing) and I would always pick up the phone and call him for advice,” Axelrod said. “He’s just got years and years more experience in the industry than pretty much anyone I know and was making incredible beer at Ska and he always gave us great pointers anytime we called and asked.”
Larsen said he has stuck with brewing throughout his career because he genuinely enjoys the process and at the end of the day, gets to see people enjoy the fruits of his labor.
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“I’ve enjoyed over the years learning a lot about the processes and the history of beer and that’s kept me interested and kept me into it and constantly trying to essentially improve my knowledge and processes. Still, even 20 years later, I wouldn’t try to call myself an expert, but I know a few things,” Larsen said with a laugh.
Larsen jumped at the opportunity to come to HighSide. He had taken a job as a brewer on a cruise ship right before the pandemic hit, and returned to Denver in April looking for his next move. He said he was eager to get back to the mountains and is enjoying the room for experimentation at HighSide, which wasn’t as easy to do at his previous jobs in packaging breweries.
“I’ve just always been about producing the best beer I can. It’s nice to be back in more of a pub environment because it gives me a lot more leeway to play around and do weird, funky or fun things,” Larsen said.
At HighSide, Larsen says he tries to provide a wide variety of beers to appeal to locals and tourists alike. He said he loves making beer with a lot of hops, but tries to balance these out in the brewery with lagers and maltese beers. Coming to HighSide during COVID-19 restrictions has been interesting as there is less turnover of product with fewer people in the brewery.
Larsen added that during the pandemic, HighSide has started packaging beer. The beer will mostly be sold in the brewery, but will also be featured in a few local liquor stores.
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