Growing beer business on tap in Fruita

Brian Gregor pours a beer at the Copper Club Brewing Co. in Fruita. The craft brewing operation and its tap room constitute an expansion for a venture that also includes the Kettles Homebrew Supply retail outlet. That means craft beer connoisseurs can not only purchase supplies to make beer, but also buy beer on tap. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

 A growing business in Fruita offers a unique combination for craft beer

connoisseurs: a place in which they can not only purchase supplies to brew beer, but also purchase beer on tap in the very next room.

Kettles Homebrew Supply has expanded with the opening of Copper Club Brewing Co.

The operation of both a retail store and brewery has been the plan from the beginning for the two couples who run the venture: Brian and Lorie Gregor and Daniel and Michele Collins.

If anything, the new brewing operation is larger than what initially was envisioned, but thankfully so, Brian Gregor says. “It was one of those times when it was either put up or shut up. So we put up. And, boy, are we glad we did.”

Kettles Homebrew Supply opened about a year ago, while Copper Club Brewing Co. opened in December in a century old building at 233 E. Aspen Ave. in downtown Fruita.

A grand opening celebration is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Jan. 18 and include live music and discounts on sample flights of beer.

The two couples bring to the business a passion for making beer. Daniel Collins, a certified master brewer, relocated with his wife from Arizona to Fruita to start a home beer supply business. Brian Gregor says he’s been brewing beer for nearly two years and purchased supplies from Kettles.

Gregor says he found out the Collins were looking for investors to open the brewery, and he and his wife were looking for a business in which to invest.

Kettles Homebrew Supply sells a wide variety of brewing and bottling equipment, ingredients and kits for making beer and wine. Basic kits were a best-seller for the Christmas shopping season, Gregor says. But the store caters not only to beginners, but also those with intermediate and advanced skills.

The remainder of the building houses the Copper Club Brewing Co., which includes a 7-barrel brewing operation and the tap room. Under state liquor licensing laws, a tap room sells beer that’s brewed and consumed on the premises, but not food. At Copper Club Brewing Co., customers who want to eat are encouraged to bring their own food or even have food delivered from restaurants, Gregor says.

The brewery serves five beers on tap: 18 Road IPA, F-Town Amber, Healthy Heart Oatmeal Stout, Moonlight Rye and a wheat beer dubbed Hoocheweizen. The brewery also serves a specialty beer — a porter flavored with coffee from Aspen Street Coffee in Fruita — as well as homemade root beer. The tap room sells beer in 12- and 16-ounce glasses as well as in growlers.

The timing of opening the brewery couldn’t be better, Gregor says, because of the growing popularity of craft beers in Colorado as well as the growing popularity of Fruita as a place in which to enjoy mountain biking and other outdoor sports and simply hang out.

As the operation expands, the brewery eventually could sell kegs of beers to bars and restaurants. But the owners also want to avoid the pitfalls associated with trying to grow too fast, Gregor says.

For now, the four are enjoying making and selling beer in an informal setting where customers can come in, have a seat and relax. “Yes, we really are that kind of place,” Gregor says.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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Posted by on Jan 16 2013. Filed under Business News, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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