Since they both opened in 2015, Ratio Beerworks in Denver’s River North and Westbound & Down Brewing Co. in Idaho Springs have become essential drinking stops along the Colorado beer trail.
Now the two beloved breweries have each opened second taprooms and brewhouses for drinkers across the Front Range. In time for its anniversary, Ratio just opened an Overland neighborhood outpost in Denver. And Westbound & Down late last year debuted a brand new production facility in Lafayette.
It’s all in the family for these two. Ratio’s new head brewer, Philip Joyce, last worked at Westbound & Down, where he led innovation for the brand.
Here’s what to expect from these two latest additions to the Front Range beer scene.
Ratio Beerworks (Overland/Denver)
Before the pandemic, you couldn’t find local favorite Ratio Beerworks in liquor or grocery stores — or many bars, for that matter.
Now the nearly 7-year-old RiNo-based craft brewery is opening its second taproom and brewhouse and expecting 50% growth in beer production in 2022. With the addition of a 50-cans-per-minute packaging line at the new facility, you’ll be seeing more Ratio beers sold in six-packs around the state.
Ratio Beerworks Overland started pouring pints of Antidote IPA, King of Carrot Flowers saison and more fan favorites on Friday. The Overland neighborhood taproom opens up to a side patio that can hold up to 1,000 drinkers, complete with a stage for live performances that build off of music venues nearby, like Levitt Pavilion and the Gothic Theatre.
While the taproom and patio add to a growing roster of drinking and dining options in this industrial Denver corner, the main purpose of the new brewhouse is to produce and can more Ratio beers, and to stock shelves up and down the Front Range, said co-owner Jason zumBrunnen.
Just after the pandemic started, in 2020, Ratio started canning flagship beers and releasing one each week. The business decision led to a full recovery of 2020 losses and then some by 2021. Now the canning line and double-capacity for production should continue that momentum.
“This year of growth is not only this taproom,” zumBrunnen said from inside the Overland space on Thursday. “It’s our first time not just doing weird pivot plans.”
When you go, try this year’s Genius Wizard barrel-aged imperial stout if it’s been tapped (a ticketed release party for it takes place on Jan. 29). Otherwise, try the Paradise Peach hazy IPA, a collaboration with Red City Radio.
2030 S. Cherokee St., noon-11 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, noon-midnight Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday, ratiobeerworks.com
Westbound & Down Mill (Lafayette)
The story of how Idaho Springs’ award-winning beer maker Westbound & Down Brewing Co. came to open a second location in Lafayette is a long one, admitted marketing director Eric Schmidt.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life and business, the company had dreamed of opening a big facility in the Boulder suburb, in close proximity to the mountains and a beer community where it had many allies and friends. It would ramp up production and bring drinkers from around the region to enjoy house-made beers onsite.
It took longer than expected, Schmidt said, but most of that dream has now come to fruition. In fall 2020, the brewery took over the space previously occupied by Endo Brewing and last June began brewing the majority of its beers there with an emphasis on canning and distribution. And on Dec. 20, the Westbound & Down Mill began serving beer and pizza to the public.
The 4,000-square-foot restaurant and brewery is called The Mill as a nod to its role as the primary production facility – the Idaho Springs brewery is now the research and development hub – and because of the massive grain silo outside. (Yes, it’s full, Schmidt said.)
“It’s also a reference to milled grain we use in our scratch-made pizzas,” Schmidt said.
Onsite, drinkers will find 18 draft taps serving a variety of styles from the Infinity Pilsner to the Westbound Coffee Porter to Westbound Double IPA. (The latter won a silver medal from the 2019 Great American Beer Festival.) Many are also available in cans to-go, Schmidt said.
Grab a pint and imbibe in the refined ambiance of the restaurant, which includes views of the production facility and canning line. Or take it to the outdoor patio against the backdrop of the mountains.
“Our passion has always been to make high-quality beers and the food to pair it with, but really to create a modern beautiful space in which to enjoy them,” Schmidt said.
Thanks to the increased capacity in Lafayette, Westbound & Down hopes to double the amount of beer it makes annually to about 3,500 barrels by the end of 2022.
2755 Dagny Way, Lafayette, 303-593-0120, 3-9 p.m. daily, westboundanddownmill.com
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