The Average Denver Brewery: 2014

Almost every Denver neighborhood is home to one or two breweries ranging in size, age, and amenities.  The city is a rich tapestry of sudsy options and such diversity makes it difficult to describe the typical Mile High brewery.  But that won’t stop us from trying.  Based on the survey results of 32 Denver breweries and ciderhouses, we’ll crunch the numbers and determine what constitutes The Average Denver Brewery.

DISCLAIMER: Although 32 respondents covers most of Denver’s breweries, it doesn’t cover everyone.  There were a few hold-outs that did not reply.  While these results are fairly accurate, they are nonetheless skewed by non-participants.


The Average Denver Brewery is somewhere between this size... (Photo: Wikimedia)

The Average Denver Brewery is somewhere between this size… (Photo: Wikimedia)

The Average Denver Brewery brews on a 13 BBL system

Highest BBL: 50

Lowest BBL: 1.25

The Average Denver Brewery’s equipment size is impressive but not awe-inspiringly so.  It’s no rinky-dinky, glorified homebrew system but neither is it the forest of sequoia-wide tanks seen at mega-breweries like Coors or large craft breweries like Stone or New Belgium.  Still, The Average Denver Brewery definitely needs more than a pair of double-doors to move in new equipment; it better have a garage door or else it’s going to have to tear down a wall to move in the new stuff.


The Average Denver Brewery has a fermenting capacity of 162 BBLs

Highest Capacity: 1,700 BBLs

Lowest Capacity:  11 BBLs

It was revealed in the survey results that The Average Denver Brewery owns seven fermenting vessels.  This makes it a neighborhood brewery: big enough to satisfy customers in the immediate vicinity, have a significant effect on other parts of town, and to be a rarity in remote corners of the state.  Its biggest customer base is in Denver because its respectable-yet-still-limited capacity means the distribution radius is modest.  Beer geeks in other states might have heard of The Average Denver Brewery but they’ll have trouble finding it at their local bar or liquor store.


...and this size (Photo: Wikipedia)

…and this size (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Average Denver Brewery decreased its production from 2012 to 2013 by 920 BBLs

Yes, The Average Denver Brewery seems to be making less beer nowadays—from 5,611 BBLs annually to 4,691 BBLs.  It’s not a sign of a decline, though, rather a sign of an upswing.  It seems contradictory but stay with me here.  There were more breweries in 2013 than there were in 2012 but those additional breweries were small operations (rarely does a start-up brewery open with, say, a 30 BBL system).  The total number of breweries in 2013 might be larger but the average was brought down because the newcomers brewed annual volumes that were below the norm.  As those more miniscule companies grow and acquire larger tanks, so, too, will The Average Denver Brewery grow (until a new horde of tiny brewhouses inundate the survey and makes the numbers plummet once again).  Concerning each specific brewery, none actually had a decrease in productivity.


The Average Denver Brewery packages its beer in bottles

Number that are draft only: 11

Number that are draft and bottles: 10

Number that are draft and cans: 3

Number that are draft, bottles, and cans: 4

Number that did not answer: 4

Can’t make it to the taproom?  Good news, there’s a decent chance you’ll find The Average Denver Brewery’s beers at the liquor store (about a 65% chance).  Despite the rise of canned beer, The Average Denver Brewery overwhelmingly prefers bottles.

The Average Denver Brewery's preferred means of distribution (Photo: Pixabay)

The Average Denver Brewery’s preferred means of distribution (Photo: Pixabay)

The Average Denver Brewery opened in early 2011

Oldest: 1988

Newest: projected 2015

Denver’s been a beer mecca for a long, long time but The Average Denver Brewery only recently took advantage of the city’s widespread love of beer.  The fertile soil was laid in the 80’s and now there’s a whole host of saplings growing up into mighty oaks.


The Average Denver Brewery displays art in the taproom

Number that display art: 22

Number that do not display art: 9

Number that did not answer: 1

There’s a 71% chance that The Average Denver Brewery’s taproom doubles as an art gallery.  The act of brewing is a creative process as much as it is a scientific one so it makes sense that the brewers of The Average Denver Brewery would continue the artistic spirit from the brew room into the customer space.


Outdoor seating a-plenty at The Average Denver Brewery (Photo: Wikipedia)

Outdoor seating a-plenty at The Average Denver Brewery (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Average Denver Brewery has outdoor seating

Number with outdoor seating: 21

Number without outdoor seating: 7

Number with planned or intermittent outdoor seating: 3

Number that did not answer: 1

Disregarding the patios and beer gardens in planning, there’s a 75% chance The Average Denver Brewery features an area for customers to enjoy Colorado’s fabled 300 days of sunshine.


The Average Denver Brewery is dog-friendly

Number that allow dogs: 19

Number that do not allow dogs: 7

Number that allow dogs only on the patio: 3

Number that did not answer: 3

Don't worry, this guy's welcome at The Average Denver Brewery, too (Photo: Wikimedia)

Don’t worry, this guy’s welcome at The Average Denver Brewery, too (Photo: Wikimedia)

Denver is a dog-loving town and The Average Denver Brewery recognizes that fact; if you’ve got Fido in tow, there’s a 76% chance you’ll both be welcome on the premises.  However, there’s only a 73% chance your pooch is actually allowed inside the taproom so plan accordingly for cold days.


In sum, The Average Denver Brewery is mid-sized with a localized distribution of mostly bottled beers.  It’s recently experienced a dip in production but for unusual reasons; in a way, it’s increased production.  It’s only three years old and it’s a haven for art buffs, outdoor drinkers, and pet owners.

Denver beer geeks will recognize at least some of these qualities in their favorite breweries but certainly not all.  The Average Denver Brewery is what happens when extremes are amalgamated: massive breweries combined with minute breweries, old breweries mixed-in with up-starts, and breweries with varying policies and seating options all intermingling.  Does The Average Denver Brewery exist in real-life?  Probably not.  And it probably never will.  Denver breweries don’t usually dabble in the gray zone, they tend to shift to one side of the spectrum or the other, making for a city with a variety of breweries unparalleled by most other municipalities.  And that is the true Average Denver Brewery—the one that’s not average at all.

About Chris Bruns

Chris Bruns is a self-professed beer geek living in Denver. Chris spends much of his time brewing beer at home with friends and family, attempting to visit every brewery in Colorado, attending special beer events and festivals, purchasing and assessing the latest releases from local breweries, and blogging about his adventures in the world of craft beer. He is also the Denver Craft Beer Examiner on Contact Chris by e-mail at or through his blog at

  • Alex Miller

    Dogs at breweries: lovely in theory, sometimes terrible in execution.