Best New Brewery + Best New Brewery – Fan Favorite: Zuni Street
Joining the brewery scene in Denver requires more than just good beer. The brewery needs a certain kind of style in order to stand out from the pack. It doesn’t need to be flashy, it doesn’t need to be incredibly daring, but it does need to be something that the beer drinkers of Denver can appreciate.
TJ Slattery and Willy Truettner, the owners of Zuni Street Brewing Company, not only created a place that Denver beer drinkers could appreciate, but they made it feel like home when they opened their doors in March.
Slattery and Truettner are something that is harder and harder to find in Colorado — they are both natives. Their friendship started at West Middle School in nearby Greenwood Village more than 17 years ago and has crossed several states and even oceans since. In the end, both found themselves drawn home to Colorado for its people and everything else the state has to offer.
Their Colorado vibe is reflected in the taproom’s concept. Both have a love of the outdoors and being active. Slattery referred to it as, “The great outdoors atmosphere.”
Walking into Zuni Street you are immediately struck by the lighting. There are multiple industrial-style wooden trees with branches lit up by colored light strings. The two founders wanted their customers to feel like they were out exploring while drinking their beer even if it was the middle of the week just outside the heart of Denver. Slattery said the brewery was, “A reflection of what the people in this neighborhood do in their free time, the lifestyle.” That lifestyle shows beyond the lights when you see the bar, the huge windows and hear the music in the background.
The brewery also boasts not one, but two huge pet-friendly patios. The environment is fun and welcoming — from the staff to their weekly events like trivia and yoga. When asked what their goal was for people walking in, both responded in the same way — this is the neighborhood brewery, and they are trying to build community and camaraderie.
You can feel an extension of the neighborhood vibe when it comes to the beer list. In their planning, both agreed that it was important for all of their core beers to be approachable. These are the types of beers that anyone can walk in and find something to enjoy.
“I love having people drink my beer and telling me it tastes great,” Truettner said. “There is no better feeling.”
The last thing they wanted to do was to intimidate. This isn’t to say that the beers aren’t exciting, though. The list is diverse ranging from IPAs to Porters to the immensely sessionable Kolsch style. There is something for beer geeks and casual beer drinkers alike. Try the “Midnight What?” It’s a unique take on a Belgian strong dark ale to explore the depth of what is to come from this brewery.
Truettner, head brewer and a graduate of the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, gained his experience from both Bell’s Brewery and New Belgium Brewing Company. He promised that the beers were going to evolve as time moves forward.
“I don’t put a style or any limitations on what I am going to make,” he said.
The only thing you can expect from Truettner’s beers is that they will be what he enjoys drinking, and he enjoys a lot of styles. In the future, expect to see its beers list grow. Expect to see them push boundaries with styles such as sours while still keeping the beers true to the brewery’s comfortable roots.
As Zuni grows, they are also going to introduce their Homebrew Workshop concept. This workshop will allow customers and beer lovers a chance to dig in and fully understand the brew process — with the help of professionals and hands-on experience. Groups of people will be able to come in, select from a group of recipes and then brew (on a smaller brew system) with one of the staff brewers. It will give people the chance to experience the full brew process in a fun and controlled environment. This project is currently in its beginning stages but is something to keep an eye on for the future.
Zuni Street Brewing Company has carved out its niche in the Denver beer scene. This is a brewery that is truly embracing its role as the community watering hole. If you need to get away from it all without leaving the city, drop in for a beer or two and enjoy the relaxed, uniquely-Colorado atmosphere.
We can't believe it's already been a whole year! March 8 will mark the official 1 year anniversary for Zuni Street Brewing Company and this Thursday we kick-off a three day celebration of that important moment in time. Join us March 8, 9, and 10 as we celebrate with beer releases, live music, food trucks, anniversary merch, and, much more!
Above: photography by Walkerized photos, images now on sale in the Zuni Street taproom or at www.walkerized.com/
In the Brew House
Having completed over 1,000 barrels of beer brewed in the first year of operations, Willy the Warhammer sets his sights on Year 2. "I'm looking forward to introducing some new beers to the lineup, while keeping up with our popular fan favorites. My goal is to brew enough to match, and hopefully succeed our year one mark of 102 ten barrel batches. I'm also very excited for the homebrew workshop and the interest and excitement in brewing that the experience will bring."
The 102 batches accomplished in the Zuni Street brew house were not of uniform variety. Far from it! Over 20 different styles of beer were released in that first year, everything from a Belgian Table Beer and German Kölsch, to English Porter and Imperial Stout. With Year 2 rapidly approaching, we wait with great anticipation to see what the Warhammer will come out with next.
The Homebrew Workshop
Willy and Riley have been working tirelessly these last few months to develop and launch the Homebrew Workshop. They are in the final stages of the buildout process and are preparing for their live demonstrations March 31 & April 1. The demonstrations are free and run from 11am to 4:30pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
We are extremely excited and proud to announce the official opening of our Homebrew Workshop this coming April 2nd. We welcome guests to take advantage of this opportunity to try their hand at making beer alongside our brewers on a professionally built 10-gallon system. Classes will be taught throughout the week in the Zuni Street taproom, and guests are welcome to sign up on our website. Click here to learn more!
In the Taproom
The taproom is sprucing up for the new year with more special events, fundraisers, band bookings, private parties, and new food trucks. The Mug Club rolls into a second year with a new blue fat bottom mug, (seen below) initiating new members to the club, and welcoming old members back.
Music and special events continue as we look to a second spring and summer, with warm days and nights on the patio, and all the fun and frills that go with it! Below is a schedule outline for the ANNIVERSARY WEEKEND:
Ken Burdette Band Duo 6:30-9:30pm
Wheels on Fire Food Truck
***Anniversary tee shirt and sunglasses release***
Pick & Howl Bluegrass Trio 6:30-9:30pm
Mile High Cajun Food Truck
March 10 - THE BIG DAY
CorePower Yoga Class ($10) 10:30-11:30am
The Pickin' Pear Duo 2-5pm
Tight 5 Trio 6-9pm
SPECIALTY BEER RELEASES March 10
- Bourbon Barrel Aged Midnight, What?! Think "Whiskey Ginger with a Belgian Twist"!
- Sour Brown Ale Aged with Strawberries. We call her Lady GaladriAle.
FUN AND FRILLS
- Little Man Ice Cream
- Clamato Time Food Truck
- Copacabana Grill Food Truck
- Giant Inflatable Jumpy Castle
- Volkswagon Van Photo Booth
Left: Special release anniversary tanks and tees
Right: Bounce House is returning to the back patio for the big day
Mondays 6:30pm: Run Club, 5K Jaunt Through LoHi, 1/2-off Pints at the Finish
--Free Run Club Tees for members who run the loop 5 times!--
Tuesdays 7pm: Trivia with Geeks Who Drink. Answer Questions, Win Beer!
Thursdays 6:30-9:30pm: Live Acoustic Set or Open Mic Night.
Saturdays 2-5 or 4-7pm: Duo, trio, and quintet bands take the stage
---Food Trucks Every Day of the Week ---
Thursday March 15
Jeremy Richard Solo Set 6:30-9:30pm
Saturday March 17
Ken Burdette Trio 4-7pm
Thursday March 22
Ethan & Dan Band 6:30-9:30pm
Saturday March 24
Crooked Cannon Bluegrass 4-7pm
Sunday March 25
Puppy Adoption Event with Mom & Mutts 2-5pm
Thursday March 29
Pickin' Pear Bluegrass 6:30-9:30pm
Friday March 30
The Goonies 80's Rock Show 7-10pm
Saturday March 31
Homebrew Workshop Demonstration 11am-4:30pm
Tight 5 Trio 4-7pm
Sunday April 1
Homebrew Workshop Demonstration 11am-4:30pm
Thursday April 5
Mug Club Happy Hour 5-8pm
Scottie Bolin Duo 6:30-9:30pm
Saturday April 7
West Side Brewery Bus Loop 2-10pm
300 Days Bluegrass Trio 2-5pm
Sunday April 8
Denver Brewery Run Series 9am-2pm
Thursday April 12
Ken Burdette Trio 6:30-9:30pm
Saturday April 14
Part and Parcel Band 2-5pm
Thanks for letting us keep you posted in this issue of the Zuni Street Brewsletter.
Watch out for us on Facebook and Instagram as we move forward into Year 2.
Please forward and questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Zuni Street Brewing Company
In a beer city it is hard to say that we are beer people. But we both enjoy beer, especially good beer, and we are slowly making our way around to the breweries in Denver. So we haven’t tried as many breweries as most people probably have, but no matter, we still have strong opinions. And in our opinion Zuni Street Brewery is the best. Some places just have a certain vibe, one that makes you want to make friends with everyone there. Zuni has it.
The brewery opened earlier this year at the corner of Zuni and 29th Streets in the Highlands. We originally heard about the brewery from one of the owners before it opened. I suppose we have a soft spot for it because of that, but even so, the beer holds up. Andrew consistently orders the Sit’n Rock Ale, which is an easy drinking hoppy wheat ale. So, basically squarely in Andrew’s beer wheelhouse. He could drink it all day if Em would let him. Em generally orders the Kolsch, but will branch out occasionally and get a Way West Wit or an Eva’s Golden Ale. All three are very good. And as with most breweries in Denver, there is always a food truck and something going on like live music, or trivia, or a running club.
But even though the beer is delicious, the vibe is the true selling point. With large patios on both sides of the tap room, and a laid back, friendly crowd, Zuni is the perfect place to waste away an afternoon. If you haven’t tried it yet, then get two or three of your best friends and head over there as soon as you get a chance. You will not regret it.
ZUNI STREET BREWING COMPANY – A BREWERY REVIEW THAT FITS LIKE A GLOVE
Real neighborhoods have their own pulse, a fundamental sense of being – a radioactive soul emanates from the concrete and iron and brick that compose its layout. The redolence rising from bakeries and restaurants lays like an invisible fog over the street corners. If you live there, then you might call it home. If not, then you may experience it like you are staring into a snow globe. Every little enclave of a city has distinct cultural centers that connect people to the greater whole like a spider web. Zuni Street Brewing Company is a new and vibrant one of those focal points in perhaps the most highly sought after areas of Denver.
Their building is set on the corner of 29thand Zuni at the start of LoHi Denver. The scene is painted with strollers, medium size dogs and fall sunshine fading in the background. Zuni Street Brewing has two patios; one in front and one in the back. Garage doors connect the entirety of the space forming a huge open-ended, summer night’s craft-beer-dream. My friend Kris and I grab beers and sit down.
While Kris and I wait for one of the founders to arrive we talk about the goings on in our respective lives. The conversation is easy and enjoyable. The atmosphere at Zuni Street Brewing embraces the candid talk, the surprisingly deep and winding turns, the Hemingway sidetracks and the lights dim as the noise picks up. I choose their Sour Bombadale (6.6% ABV) and Kris goes to the Back to Beta Saison (8.4%).
TJ arrives with a casual demeanor, apologizing for being late. I am thinking to myself that I should be apologizing to him for not stopping at his cozy, LoHi Chateau-de-beer on previous adventures with The Denver Hopper. The Sour Bombadale is tart and juicy and mouthwatering – just the way a sour should be. The Back to Beta Saison is a delicious malty brew that should be consumed with caution. That 8.4% ABV is sneaky and could roll you like Chuck Norris in his prime if you aren’t minding your manners.
Zuni Street Brewing Company has been open less than a year but they have their finger on the pulse that I mentioned at the beginning. Not long ago, TJ brought in a jumpy castle and inflatable boxing for the patrons both young and old. When he says that, I want to give the man a hug, but I think better of it since I just met him. But goddamn, that is a great idea! The bounce house was predominantly for adults, but, of course, the kids used it and everyone got to take turns.
Their staple C-3PA (9.1% ABV) settles on my shoulders like a friendly angel of intoxication. The conversation carries on with levity and we go over different activities going down at Zuni Street Brewing that fit the vibe of LoHi, like a Cheesy Christmas Sweater Party and Homebrew Work Shop already are already on the way. Zuni also has live bluegrass music, acoustic Thursdays for solo artists, Ski Porn Sunday for broadcasting Warren Miller films, live bands every Saturday afternoon and taproom yoga Saturday morning. They have board games for the young and old alike and beer and cookie pairings once a month. Activities, activities, activities!
Kris and I float out into the LoHi wandering to different bars or breweries feeling a good deal better about this life. She was quite the companion for the review and carries a conversation naturally. As we walk through the neighborhood, TJ’s description of what sets Zuni Street Brewing Company apart rings in my mind. He wants Zuni Street Brewing to fit the Lower Highlands like a glove, like an old pair of jeans. I can say with confidence after my experience that Zuni Street Brewing embodies their place of residence as if they have been there for a decade.
The brewery at Zuni Street has been staying busy! Keeping the tanks full has become a constant…we’ll call it a game. In order to do so, I have started to brew 2-3 times per week, which adds up, after all the cellaring, kegging, and cleaning is factored in. To the point, lots of everyone’s favorites including Sit’n Rock Ale, Zuni Street IPA and Eva’s have been brewed multiple times, but today’s blog is about the two newest beers on the Tap List: Cold Queen Kolsch and White Wood IPA.
Both beers gave me a hell of a time, but for very different reasons. Cold Queen Kolsch is named after my wife, Theresa, and her dog Mayzie, who is also sometimes known as the Ice Dragon. A Kolsch is a light refreshing beer traditionally brewed in the Cologne region of Germany. The yeast used is ale yeast, which means it ferments at the top of the tank, but it can ferment at very cold temperatures like lager yeast. The colder fermentation temperature helps the beer develop cleanly and crisply. Lagers and Kolsch’s are both hard beers to make because the lack of big hop or malt flavors leaves no room to hide anything off in the beer. Why, as much as I disapprove of Budweiser’s business tactics, their beer is flawless and gets my respect as a brewer.
The brew of Cold Queen went very smoothly. The wort made it through the brewhouse just fine and into the fermenter at the proper, cooler temperature. Then came my first of unexpected problems, adding the yeast. The thermostat on our cooler was broken so it actually froze the keg of yeast that I was going to use to ferment the Cold Queen. Yeast is a living organism-it will sit dormant at just above freezing temperatures, but it sure as shit does not want to actually reach freezing temperatures. I did not realize this until the morning of the brew. I pulled the yeast keg out of the cooler to try to warm the yeast up in the morning. Back to getting it in the tank, I hooked everything up to push it into the tank, some of it went in, but there was a serious slush at the bottom of the keg. I did best that I could to get the slushy yeast in, although this was frozen yeast that was not healthy, going into a cold fermented beer.
I monitored the brew for two days, it dropped gravity over the first night by a hair, but after that, there were no signs of fermentation. Due to the frozen status of the original yeast and the cooler fermentation temp, the yeast was struggling and I had a stuck fermentation. I bubbled a bunch of CO2 into the bottom of the tank to help rouse the yeast and get it back into solution. After that I bubbled a good amount of oxygen into the bottom of the tank to help the yeast grow. Yeast can grow anaerobically (without oxygen during fermentation) or aerobically (with oxygen during propagation). Yeast grows much happier in the presence of oxygen, hence bubbling the oxygen to help stimulate growth. It was a stressful few days of watching, but eventually the yeast took off and fermentation began! I couldn’t be happier with the result! Crisp, clean, refreshing and true to style, the Cold Queen was worth the struggle!
The other new brew on the list is White Wood IPA. Some may call this an East Coast IPA or a New England IPA. No disrespect to the East Coast, and as a Denver Native and Broncos fan, there was no way I could go with New England IPA. I like to call it what I have known the style as, and that is a White IPA. It is brewed with wheat and oats to give it a white and hazy appearance. The wheat and oats also do something not so awesome-thicken the eff out of the mash.
The White Wood gave me hell in the brewhouse. Because the mash was so thick and gelatinized from the oats and wheat, I had a horrible time separating the solids from the liquids, or as we call it in brewing, a Stuck Mash. I tried all of the tricks in the book, but alas the stuck mash got me and I had to do all I could do…wait. A normal runoff (the separation of solids from liquids) takes me about 1-1.5 hours. The White Wood stuck mash took me 6.5 because of the stuck mash. There goes dinner plans…
I eventually got the 10 barrel brew through the system and into the 20 barrel fermenter…
“wait?! 20 barrel fermenter! Shit, I’ve gotta do this all again tomorrow!”
It takes two batches to fill the 20 barrel fermenter, so thus two stuck mashes. The next day I adjusted the recipe to lessen the amount of oats by a touch and increase the amount of rice hulls by a shitload. Rice hulls help immensely with stuck mashes and they worked! My runoff still went slow, but I got it done in about 2.5 hours instead of 6.5! Thank you rice hulls!
White Wood just got kegged and put on tap this week. I’m very please with how it turned out. It tastes like pineapple, grapefruit, and a little bit of orange juice perfectly melded with a beer, although no juices were added. The wheat and oats provide a smooth mouthfeel and nice malt backbone to balance the juiciness of the hops. I am very excited for this beer and for you all to have a try! Cheers!
-Willy the Warhammer, April 10, 2017
Portly Porter & Midnight, WHAT?!
I was very excited to brew Portly Porter. Porters are one of my favorite styles, especially in the winter months, so I was eager to get it on tap before Spring fully sets in. The brew went smooth, I am dialing in the system and finding great success. The Midnight Wheat and chocolate malt used in the grain bill gave the beer a very dark hue that was fun to see move through the system. Dry yet full of flavor, Portly Porter is a dark beer lover’s dream. Dark chocolate and coffee flavors are prominent, with a deep black color and tan head.
The next day I brewed Midnight WHAT?! The day started out funny, as I cleared three grocery stores of all the fresh ginger they had; 20 pounds in total! I got two volunteers in TJ and our good buddy Alex to help peel and grate the ginger. A herculean task to say the least, and with plenty of war wounds to prove it (nothing duct tape couldn’t fix)!
This brew day did not go so smoothly…a combination of too much Midnight Wheat added to the malt bill and some residual darkness from the porter brewed the day before, resulted in the beer being a tad (a lot) darker than I intended. As I started collecting the wort, I saw the color and knew my color was off. The runoff also went very slow and the night was wearing on. I finally got to the knockout of the wort into the fermenter, I checked my watch when the knockout finished, it said 12:03, and my response was “Midnight, what?!” After how funky the brew day was, I found that to be the perfect name for this brew!
Sometimes these things have a way of working out. The darker color lends itself better to the style I was trying to create. This dark Belgian Abbey is packed with ginger, but not overwhelming. The clove flavors from the yeast play well with the ginger, and create a chai tea-like flavor to this tasty treat.
Thanks for reading and we hope to see you all in to try the beers, if you already haven’t!
Willy the Warhammer, March 9, 2017
The first beers have been brewed and are on their way to finishing and carbonation!
The first brew week started with Adam from Alpha Brewing Operations arriving to commission the equipment and get everything ready for brewing. We spent the week making sure everything worked (there’s a lot of moving parts at Zuni Street), and cleaning and passivating the tanks. Passivation is the process of coating the inside of the fermentation or brew tank in a layer that inhibits oxygen ingression and therefore rust. Once all the tanks were ready and the brewery cleaned, it was time to brew!
The first brew to come through was Eva’s Golden Ale. In memory of TJ’s beloved mother, this golden ale reminds us of the golden woman. It is brewed with malts to accentuate the bready, biscuity goodness, and slightly hopped with aromatic British hops to give it a slightly fruity finish. Our German yeast at colder temperatures was used to ferment the beer to give it a nice crispness.
HUGE thanks to Timmy Evon who is a good friend and head brewer over at Dry Dock. We did not start the brew until close to 5pm on Saturday, and being the first batch, it took some time to get through the system. The brew and cleanup did not finish until 4am. Big props to Timmy for sticking it through until the end!
Sit’n Rock Ale was brewed the very next day, despite the lack of sleep! This puppy went through the system very easily and I’m happy with the results. This American Wheat Ale meets American Pale Ale starts malt forward and estery and then finishes with a nice hop burst. Perfect for those nice sunny days on the patio!
Monday came with Way West Wit. A tasty Belgian style wheat ale popping with banana, clove and phenols that you expect from a wit. Also brewed with coriander and orange peel because, why not?
I brewed a batch of Zuni Street IPA on both Tuesday and Wednesday. We have a 20 barrel fermenter which is a double batch fermenter. Our brewhouse can only make 10 barrels of beer at a time, so it takes two batches to fill up the big boy. Zuni Street IPA is a hop forward beer, highlighting the aromatic and juicy interplay of American style hops. Heavily dry-hopped and not too bitter, our IPA is full of fruity notes from stone fruit to melon, with a solid malt backbone to remind you it is still a beer.
Excited to share what is happening back in Brewhaven with you all! I’m gearing up to do it all again this weekend with some new recipes! Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions! (email@example.com)
Written by Willy Truettner Feb 18, 2017