A new brewery is on board to take over the former First Avenue Grocery Store in the heart of the Baker neighborhood.
The owners of Novel Strand Brewing Co. hope to have their brewery, as well a partner, Denver-based coffee shop, up and running sometime next year at 305 W. 1st Ave. They signed a lease for the spot Friday.
The spot at the northwest corner of West First Avenue and Cherokee Street was originally expected to be another outpost for the Boulder-based, Paleo-friendly, gluten-free restaurant Blooming Beets. But the deal fell through because of how long the renovation was taking, said Fred Glick, owner of the building.
“We really ended up rebuilding it. If we had any brains at all we would have just torn the damn thing down and just built something new,” Glick said. “That just isn’t what we do. We bought it with the idea that we’d like to turn what had been a problem for the neighborhood into an amenity.”
Tamir Danon and Chantel Columna moved from New York to tap into Colorado’s craft beer scene. Their third partner, Ayana Coker, is based out of Baltimore.
“Denver has a very strong local beer community and presence. I see more people going out to the local brewery than they go out to the bar at night to party. It’s really a part of the culture here,” Danon said.
Novel Strand plans to have its beer available Thursday through Sunday and be a coffee-only shop the other days of the week. The brewery announcement comes just ahead of hundreds of breweries descending on Denver for the Great American Beer Festival. The celebration of craft beer will be first and foremost at the event, but concerns about the industry’s future will also be present during the annual festival.
“There are levels to the beer industry and there are levels to breweries,” Danon said. “We are not that level that’s being affected. The people who are being affected are the large breweries that are trying to fill up all the stores and their business model exists on volume.”
“There’s a reason why there are so many sustainable breweries here in Denver and why so many more can open up. It’s because they’re all focusing their beer, for the most part, in-house, so their profit margin is a lot higher. And that also doesn’t create that competition where we’re competing for space on the shelves, but instead we’re working together to make Denver a high-quality beer town,” he said.
Novel Strand would only be about a quarter of a mile away from the Broadway corridor where Baere Brewing Co., TRVE Brewing Co. and the soon to open Archetype Distillery are located. One thing the new brewery has that many others in the industry don’t is diversity at the top level.
As black women, Columna and Coker represent growing segments of craft beer drinkers.
“I try to as much I can to not see race mostly because I work in a white male-dominated industry. I work in construction,” Columna said. “I choose not to focus on the differences and instead focus on the work, which is the best way for me to promote or encourage an inclusive environment around me.”
“We want everyone to feel like they can come and hang out. Craft beer isn’t for white dudes with beards who wear flannel. It’s not for any one particular group of people,” Danon added.
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