Article by David Wright
Wearing a black jacket with the word “death” on it and a TRVE logo patched on the back, Nick Nunns stroked his beard, musing, “Denver was starved for something like this.” The brewery’s shotgun setup invites imbibers to grab a spot at the community table, grabbing your attention among photos of rundown homes lining the walls and a prominent barrel rack. The eery prints of these residences are from rural Kansas and Colorado, as one of Nunns’ friends was developing photos around the same time that the brewery was looking to decorate and the darker profiles meshed perfectly with TRVE’s metal environment.
At TRVE, I am “Normal,” a.k.a someone who is not that into metal, but still mesmerized by the unique approach to brewing and branding. Having established itself as an epicenter of metal culture in the city, bands on tour frequently stop in to grab a drink and check out the aesthetics. By building a community in music and beer, Nunns has gotten in touch with some of his musical heroes and is slated to ship out some of his badass product to accompany them on the road with a karmic approach to giving away his beer.
After TRVE named a sour Vexovoid for an “unsettling” album by the Australian group Portal, Nunns came into contact with one of those bands. The group emailed Nunns wanting to know why he was using their name, so Nunns explained the TRVE concept and the process he goes through to name his beer – luckily, no cease-and-desist came of it, but rather some good press and recognition. Though that band was alright with the title, Nunns is also aware that naming issues are going to become a serious problem in the industry with so many small breweries opening doors this year.
When I asked him about his role in the metal world, he said, “This place kind of gave me some credibility” and the brewery’s success helped bring about a relationship with Dave Otero at Flatline Audio. Through this exposure rooted in beer, Nunns has been able to help place a few local bands in a recording studio on a split fee and provides a link to some music from his website. Nunns helped Primitive Man first get into Flatline and the band later signed with Relapse Records.
“That’s it? We barely just scratched the surface.” It’s no secret Nunns is pretty blunt and he called me out for not having deeper questions for him a little less than an hour into our interview. What doesn’t always come out, though, is that Nunns reflects so eloquently about his company as well as the industry as a whole and is one of the nicest people that I have come across . He has also developed solid relationships with companies around him, noting “we get so much free Illegal Pete’s!” after one of the brewers walked in with a burrito.
Going through some “growing pains,” Nunns has been intentional about the addition of more barrels to allow TRVE’s alchemists Zach and Sydney to produce killer ales like Manannan, a sour brown aged in a Breckenridge whiskey barrel. While TRVE began by looking towards a niche market, it has since allowed its neighborly relations to grow organically and has promoted other businesses nearby. As I listened to him and PJ Hoberman reflect on where they see Denver brewing going, a genuine belief in the expansion of quality and creativity of the city was implicit.
With Collaboration Fest approaching, TRVE will have at least three spots occupied, including one with the “Denver Beermuda Triangle,” a loose conglomeration of Renegade, Wit’s End, Strange, TRVE, Black Sky, and Breckenridge, based on proximity to each other that hopes to call attention to the Broadway and Santa Fe beer districts. The excitement for collaboration among breweries is part of what drives such artisanal beer throughout the state and is a core element of Denver’s strengths and character. This city has an entrepreneurial spirit embedded into its core as well as an insane amount of communal action- not the least of which will shine through Collab Fest.
“Denver is pretty safe…It’s a cool blend of American culture- I love it, but it sort of blends together in terms of aesthetics,” Nunns commented on the city’s beer world. As a result of a large population density, ideologies like TRVE’s are able to make such a deep impression on the city because of niche markets, while still standing out because of its authenticity.
What makes TRVE stand out is the desire to be bold, individual, and have the willingness to push boundaries . With a cohesive metal brewing image, Nunns has taken his two passions and forged them together to create an organic and trve company.
“I don’t want to be the face of the company, I just want to make something that people like… You want to be appreciated for what you make, not who you are,” said Nunns.
About David Wright
I found myself at TRVE, talking to Nick Nunns, as the beginning of a project I started after meeting Hoberman last summer at a coffee shop in Denver. At the time, I was working in the Colorado College admissions office seeking an entry into the microbrewery life. As a Classics major not yet 20 and graduating a year early in May, I had no idea where to start and most likely came off a little bit insane. However, Hobermans’s advice, in conjunction with my studies of ancient viticulture and grain-growing practices among Greeks and Romans, presented a tangible connection between my academic path and my passion for one of Colorado’s most defining industries.
Though it took a few times applying to receive a “Venture Grant” from the college to help fund my study of beer culture in the state, it eventually went through and off I went. With Colorado at the forefront of craft beer development and innovation in the nation, I broke up the state into major metropolitan regions (Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins) with the hope of finding some unity in state culture while comparing each of the regions’ individual subcultures and identity. Although I am unable to drink, I appealed to DOTW and Focus on the Beer to publish anything that I might come up with regarding these topics and wanted to start by underlining TRVE’s approach to brewing. Somewhat of an anomaly in the Denver microbrewery scene, it is developing a following of metalheads and beer lovers alike. While metal fuels the personality, its architecture for cultural development and community building is laying the groundwork for individuality.