Add Odell to the growing list of breweries settling down in Denver’s popular River North Arts District. On Monday, the company detailed plans to build out a 10-barrel pilot brewhouse and its second taproom inside a two-story, 4,000 square foot facility in the neighborhood, a hub of food and drink colloquially known as RiNo. Upon completion, the company says the pilot brewhouse will focus on experimental—and exclusive—beers, while the taproom will boast 15 Odell handles, an outdoor patio, and a live music space. Construction is slated to begin this summer while a grand opening is tentatively set for later this year.
WHY IT MATTERS
In heading to RiNo, Odell joins a number of larger craft—and “crafty”—breweries to have been so charmed by the district’s vibe. To tally: Blue Moon (MillerCoors), 10 Barrel (Anheuser-Busch InBev), New Belgium, and Oskar Blues have all previously opened or have detailed plans to operate facilities of varying scope in the neighborhood.
But even before this influx of larger craft and corporate-craft brands, the neighborhood was jumping. In 2015, the Denver Post dubbed it the city's “brewing district,” adding it has “one of the thickest concentrations of breweries in the West, if not the country.” Indeed, in that story, the Post counted 11 smaller craft breweries already open or in planning for the neighborhood, including the eponymous River North Brewery, Crooked Stave, Epic Brewing, and Great Divide. Which is to say, if we had been describing RiNo as “blossoming,” it’s safe to say now the place is in a state of full inflorescence.
And notably, as larger breweries like Odell and New Belgium make way into the area, there seems to have been somewhat of a tonal shift in media coverage. RiNo’s own vibrancy, some seem to think, seems to have invited a threatening presence.
Take Denver alt-weekly Westword’s report on the Odell announcement. It begins: “With a thundering noise that could strike fear into the hearts of small beer makers in the River North neighborhood, Fort Collins-based Odell Brewing, the state's third-largest independent craft brewery, will take a King Kong-sized step into Denver next year, opening a huge, two-story taproom and pilot brewery at 30th and Larimer streets.”
Think hard on this one: When’s the last time you saw an independent, local (local to the state, anyway) brewery’s expansion plans described this way, by the local press no less? The sentiment is somewhat contradicted later in the same story by Odell claiming to have called the area’s breweries informing them of the plans only to be met with uniform support. Either way, it’ll be interesting to watch how the so-called “brewing district” evolves over time as it continues to grow.