Denver’s famed River North brewery district will take a huge hit at the end of this year when Epic Brewing, which was one of the largest craft beer makers in town at one point, closes the doors to both its taproom and its large production space at 3001 Walnut St.
“This has been a really hard decision, and we have tried so hard and there has been anguish and pain. And as owners, it has been a real challenge,” said Dave Cole, who owns Epic with business partner Peter Erickson. “This is not fun. We’ll be completely out by the end of January.”
Cole said Epic is looking for a location in Denver where it could operate a small taproom down the road, but that rents are extremely high right now, which is making it difficult.
Epic was originally founded in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2010 and expanded to Denver in 2013, opening its 19,000-square-foot facility before the majority of development in RiNo had started.
The soaring, $2 million facility featured 25 taps, two beer engines for cask-style beer, floor-to-ceiling windows, a fireplace and plenty of packaged beer to go. Over the years, it hosted large parties during the Great American Beer Festival and implemented both a large sour beer program and an expansion of its much-loved Big Bad Baptist stout series.
The brewery will now move its beer production to Utah, although it will keep a distribution warehouse here. Cole and Erickson, who owned the building as well, sold that last July. They are now trying to sell the brewing equipment, which includes a large 20-barrel brewhouse.
Epic had been profitable for many years before the pandemic but relied heavily on distributing kegged beer to bars and restaurants, Cole told The Denver Post. So when the pandemic shut everything down in March 2020, Epic instantly lost half of its business. “We lost our craft beer bars, many of them forever. And draft has simply not recovered, especially for craft beer.
“Inflation also killed us,” he continued. “Freight went way up. It has really been challenging from a volume perspective. We have to get back to where the business supports itself … At one point we were the 99th largest craft brewery in the nation. Now we’re not even at 15,000 barrels a year.”
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