Local trash heroes get a beer named in their honor

The Garbage Grabbers want to improve a place they love, but it’s about more than that.
4 min. read
Seedstock Brewery’s new Triple G Gose, a tribute to the Gulch Garbage Grabbers who come in for beers after their weekly trash pickup nearby. June 14, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

James Warren does not like to wait for someone else to solve problems he sees in his community. That was the spirit behind the rogue benches he's been known to install at RTD bus stops around town. He's on a similar journey with garbage.

About three years ago, Warren and some friends decided to de-litter the Lakewood Dry Gulch, meeting up to grab trash, then grab beers afterwards. They ended up at West Colfax's Seedstock Brewery, just a few blocks away, where they met owner Jerry McIlvenna.

"I just went out and said, 'So what's going on guys?' And they told me about what they were doing and immediately I just latched onto that," McIlvenna told us.

Jerry (right) and Adam McIlvenna at work in Seedstock Brewery, their business on West Colfax Avenue. June 14, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

A friendship was struck, and his brewery became Warren's go-to spot as one evening of community service turned into a long-running thing.

Today, they call themselves the Gulch Garbage Grabbers. Last week, McIlvenna named a beer in their honor: the alliterative Triple G Gose.

"We're flattered that they base themselves out of our brewery, but much more than that, we appreciate the fact that they go and clean up our neighborhood," McIlvenna said. "We praise these guys every week."

The special brew will be available for about a month. A portion of its sales will be forwarded to the Center on Colfax, which is currently celebrating 50 years of Denver PrideFest.

Seedstock Brewery staffers and the Gulch Garbage Grabbers celebrate the new Triple G Gose, named for the group of volunteers. June 14, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Warren and company were floored by the gesture. It's a sign their larger plan is working.

Warren and his buddies cheered as Seedstock opened last Friday to unveil their new quaff.

"I'm over the moon. I mean, this is just so cool, right?" he said. "The fact also that a dollar of every pint goes to The Center On Colfax is just so in line with who we are and what we want to do, which is just create space and community."

Yes, the Garbage Grabbers want to improve a place they love, but it's about more than that. Warren, who came up with the idea for the group but isn't necessarily in charge, told us their clean-ups inject purpose into their social lives.

"This is a way for us all to get together and do something that brings us close to the people that we love – and oh, in addition, the place where we live is going to look nicer after," he said.

The Lakewood Dry Gulch runs parallel to West Colfax Avenue. June 14, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

"It brings us closer to our neighbors," Benjamin Shpurker, a longtime Garbage Grabber, added. "This is our community. This is where we live. And we want to see a healthy and vibrant area and a clean area. And it's the least we can do."

So to receive recognition from their community, not least in the form of a beer, means those connections are growing.

"Seedstock is our home," Garbage Grabber Hayley Schroeder said.

Benjamin Shpurker (left to right), James Warren and Hayley Schroeder arrive at Seedstock Brewery to meet the new Triple G Gose, the beer named for their Gulch Garbage Grabbers group that picks up trash every week nearby. June 14, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The informal trash collection, the rogue benches: These acts of service get at issues that go deeper still, Warren said. The community that he and his pals have fostered is meant to keep dystopia at bay. They're not waiting for anyone else to do that work for them.

"I don't know who should be doing it, and I don't think it really matters, because ultimately all we have is each other, and coming together is the only way to extricate ourselves from systems that want us to be alone or want us to hurt or want us to feel like it's someone else's responsibility," he said. "That means bringing people together and fighting against the torrent of loneliness that's wreaking havoc on everyone — and at the same time, showing that can be done in a way that isn't just watching TV together. It is a way we can bond over something very meaningful."

If you want to become a Gulch Garbage Grabber, just show up at the corner of Wolf Street and Wells Place at 5:30 on a Tuesday between March and November. Warren said it's very much "the more the merrier."

They call themselves the Gulch Garbage Grabbers, and for good reason.
Hayley Schroeder holds up Polaroids of her Gulch Garbage Grabbers pals as they sip Seedstock Brewery's new Triple G Gose, named for their volunteer effort. June 14, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

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