Aspen brewery taps local pockets |

Aspen brewery taps local pockets

ASPEN ” The cup runneth dry at the Aspen Brewing Co., where its owners now are looking for more investors to inject some cash flow into the start-up venture.

Brewery owners Duncan Clauss, Brad Veltman and Rory Douthit ” who are all in their 20s ” are looking for local investors.

Veltman sent The Aspen Times an e-mail asking to publicize their latest attempt to get the brewery up and running. The brewery was scheduled to open in mid-December, but that’s been delayed until next month.

“As of yet, we have only been offering investment opportunities to friends and family. We have raised a substantial amount of the necessary capital but have nonetheless fallen a few investors short,” Veltman wrote. “Without going into great detail, we would like to open up this opportunity to local Aspenites who would have not only a financial interest but a personal interest as well. We are not trying to raise much, only enough to get us open and have some operating capital to get us going.”

Clauss said the late opening is not because of a lack of money. Instead, construction delays have held up the opening.

“[Money] has nothing to do with the opening,” he said, adding the company has about 10 investment shares remaining and the young entrepreneurs want to tap into the local business community for support. “We thought it would be a fun idea.”

Clauss declined to say how much the shares would be sold for, but those interested can call him at the brewery at 920-BREW.

In terms of the partners’ business plan, Clauss said start-up costs have come in under budget.

“We’ve been pretty on point with everything,” he said.

Clauss said he and his partners do not want one person as an additional investor but several locals who want to be part of the brewery. There are a total of eight investors, which includes Clauss and his two partners.

“We are trying to figure out the best way to do this,” he said.

The Aspen Brewing Co. is expected to be up and running by early March. The finishing touches are being made to the tasting room and the remaining electrical work should be done within a couple of weeks.

Next week, the beer will begin to be brewed, a process that takes two weeks.

The partners last fall signed a three-year lease for the 2,000-square-foot space, located at 557 N. Mill St.

The brewery owners plan to address the City Council on Feb. 25 regarding the status of their tasting room and how much they can serve there.

Because of city regulations, how much beer can be sampled has become an issue that will ultimately be decided by the council.

Community Development Director Chris Bendon last fall alerted the owners of the brewery that because their operation is in the Service Commercial Industrial (SCI) zone, a bar and restaurant are not allowable uses.

A tasting room could be interpreted as a bar, depending on how much is served and if the atmosphere entices people to drink and hang out watching sporting events on television, Bendon said.

Bendon sent a letter to Clauss and Veltman on Jan. 2, informing them that they can’t serve more than 16 ounces of beer to one person on any given day. That would permit a sampler of four four-ounce beers, or two eight-ounce glasses, or one pint.

Those numbers are based on maintaining a potential blood alcohol content of .05 percent or less, Bendon wrote.

Clauss and Veltman are appealing Bendon’s interpretation of the rules to the council.

The council can opt to make the rules less restrictive, more restrictive or follow Bendon’s interpretation.

Clauss said breweries that specialize in creating craft brews all have tasting rooms, where the brewers are on hand to explain the process and what ingredients are used in each concoction.

He added that the Aspen Brewing Co. has no intention of becoming a bar, and instead plans to operate like a vineyard where people sample the product and talk to the winemaker.

Bendon is amenable to the brewery’s proposed tasting hours, which will be noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

The Aspen Brewery will operate with a manufacturing/wholesale license, meaning it doesn’t follow state or city liquor laws, which forbids liquor sales at retail outlets on Sundays. The difference is that Aspen Brewery is manufacturing a product and selling it wholesale.

The license applies across the board, so whether a thirsty customer wants to sample beer at the brewery’s tasting room or take some home in a growler (a beer-to-go glass bottle), he or she can do it seven days a week.

The brewery’s business plan calls for the majority of sales to come from distributing their brews in local restaurants, bars and liquor stores throughout the valley.

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