Syndicate Brewing in Silverthorne opens doors to its first brick-and-mortar location
Creator and co-owner of Syndicate Brewing, Brad Danforth, said there are two routes that lead to starting your own brewing company. The first is home-brewing your own beer, the second is working at a brewery until you become an apprentice. He took the first route.
Danforth opened his first brick-and-mortar taphouse location of Syndicate Brewing on Saturday, Aug. 20, and it couldn’t have been more of a success.
The taphouse opened its doors at noon, and by four it was so packed that people couldn’t get a seat.
While many customers were there to check out the business, some were there to support. Danforth said staff and brewers from nearly every brewery in the county attended to welcome Syndicate into the fold.
Danforth opened Syndicate with two co-owners, Steve Sharpe and William Weber. Sharpe has been in the county since 1993 and has been brewing with Danforth for the past few years and Weber handles numbers, taxes and computer operations.
With a few years of experimental home-brewing under their belts, Sharpe and Weber decided they wanted to submit one of their beers to the Mount Crested Butte Chili and Beer Festival in 2018. The festival is held annually in September.
However, they quickly found that a license is required to legally serve beer to the public. So, Danforth and Sharpe went back to the drawing board.
They started the process to attain a license and bought out the corner of a warehouse in Silverthorne. There, they built an official brewing setup and got to work.
Though Danforth and Sharpe weren’t able to compete in the 2018 festival, the addition of a brewing license presented an opportunity for them to share their beer with the local community.
Soon after, Syndicate Brewing opened its first account with Angel’s Hollow in Breckenridge, a bar that has since closed.
From there, the pair continued to send kegs to local restaurants, breweries and bars, spreading their influence and name.
“Once you’re legal, your friends want to help you out,” Danforth said.
Danforth also said Sharpe’s lasting relationships in the county gave them an upper hand while spreading their name. In practically no time, Danforth said, they had accumulated over 30 accounts.
“But, when we were distributing to bars, they’d want — consistently — a couple of styles, so we couldn’t really branch out,” Danforth said. He added that bars would request, for example, one or two India Pale Ales for the whole winter so they were consistently making the same recipe.
The next year, they finally got their chance to compete in the 2019 chili fest. They won first place for a porter they had submitted.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “That’s when we were brewing, really,” Danforth said. Danforth and Sharpe started to branch out and realized that they could expand.
“We were doing really well because our beer was popular,” Sharpe said. He added that people who were experienced and knowledgeable sought them out to compliment their brews. “That’s where we were like ‘Oh, we should open a taphouse.’”
After months of frequenting the McDonalds in Silverthorne to supplement their early morning brewing, Danforth said he finally took notice of some rental signs in the windows of a store across the parking lot.
“So I peak in, and I go, ‘Oh, that size looks good,’” he said. The space was about 2,000 square feet, the exact size they were looking for. They had to change the zoning for the space, but in January, Syndicate Brewing bought their lease and started renovations. Eight months later, their official opening was on Saturday, Aug. 20.
As soon as a customer walks into Syndicate Brewing, the tangy smell of grain and fermentation is unmistakable. Further inside, behind the bar, a family of floor-to-ceiling steel vessels are gathered together. Pipes, hoses and drains are scattered across the floor, and steam rises to the fluorescent lights.
One of Danforth’s favorite parts of running a taphouse isn’t just the face-to-face feedback he hears from his customers. As a home-brewer, he gives tours to customers who are also interested in brewing. In the back area with all the steel vessels, Danforth and Sharpe will happily explain their process and talk hops.
“As brewers, we would go to breweries and like to see the operations, we’re curious about that and a lot of people are too,” Danforth said.
In 2021, Syndicate brewing won three awards for three different beers, and last Thursday, Sharpe submitted their entries for the Great American Beer Festival.
On tap at Syndicate as of Friday, Aug. 26, was a Kölsh, priced at $6, as well as an American Porter, an American Amber, and an American IPA all priced at $7. Also on tap is the Beatrice Honey Belgian Blonde, named after a niece of Danforth’s girlfriend.
Syndicate Brewing is open from noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. It’s located at 203 Summit Place, Unit 203, in Silverthorne. The next beer in the works is one of Danforth’s favorites — a dark, imperial stout at 9.4% alcohol by volume.
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