For Colfax brewery, an opening still simmers

Mu Brewery stalls in opening doors, but owner says it has given time to work on last-minute details

By BRANDON JOHANSSON Staff Writer

AURORA | When the calendar turned to April, Mu Brewery seemed poised for a grand opening bash within just a few weeks.

The brewing tanks were in place, walls were painted, bathrooms ready, bar installed, refrigerator almost up and tables and bar stools arranged on the tasting room floor. They’d even hired staff.

After sitting bare for the previous year, the storefront at 9735 E. Colfax Ave. finally looked like the brewery Mu founder Nathan Flatland had long dreamed of. 

Then, city inspectors slammed the brakes on the project. Inspectors deemed the ventilation system inadequate for filtering out carbon monoxide created by the brewing process. 

Mu Brewery

Michael Malone (left), owner of KOTA Longboards, creates tap handles for Mu Brewery's owner Nathan Flatland (right) March 29 at the longboard shop in Denver. The brewery was set to open in early April, but the opening has been delayed a few weeks. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Mu Brewery

Nathan Flatland (right), owner of Mu Brewery, watches Michael Malone, owner of KOTA Longboards, create tap handles March 29 at his longboard shop in Denver. The brewery was set to open in early April, but the opening has been delayed a few weeks. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Mu Brewery

Nathan Flatland (right), owner of Mu Brewery, watches Michael Malone, owner of KOTA Longboards, create tap handles March 29 at his longboard shop in Denver. The brewery was set to open in early April, but the opening has been delayed a few weeks. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Mu Brewery
Mu Brewery

The delay likely means the new brewery won’t open until sometime in mid to late May as crews install a new ventilation system. 

For Flatland, the delay is a bit of a disappointment, but he said he and the rest of the staff are looking at it as a sort of blessing because it gives them plenty of time to finish final items. 

“The good news is that with this little bit of lag time what we’ve decided to do was go make sure we have everything up to compliance,” he said. 

While the April 12 target date for opening has passed, Flatland said he now has time to work out kinks without being under the gun of an impending deadline. 

Flatland said he was able to find a new ventilation unit that should be delivered and installed within a few weeks. 

The problem for Mu was that the design plans didn’t adequately take into account the risks posed by running the burners during brewing. Flatland said he and the engineers who designed the brewery assumed the original ventilation system, which pumped fresh air into the brewery area about seven times every minute, would mean plenty of fresh air circulating through. When city inspectors went over the layout, they determined that the system was too risky, Flatland said. 

“I should have foreseen it coming this way,” he said with a shrug. 

The other breweries Flatland visited in the run-up to Mu’s opening all had pretty elaborate ventilation system because of carbon monoxide issues, he said, so in hindsight, it wasn’t surprising that he needed a similar system 

While the delay came as a bit of a shock, Tim Gonerka, a retail specialist with the city of Aurora, said it isn’t uncommon for new businesses to hit a bump like this right before a scheduled grand opening. 

“It’s not unusual in construction, especially when it’s your first time through,” he said. “It happens.”

Gonerka said the right approach when this happens is the approach Mu is taking: use the extra time to double-check everything and get everything ready without feeling rushed. 

“Probably, ultimately this will be a blessing in disguise,” he said.

Flatland said his chief concern when the most-recent delay came down was that some of his future customers would be upset. He’d spent the previous few weeks promoting an April 12 grand opening, and there was plenty of excitement surrounding it, he said. 

“I was afraid there was going to be some backlash,” he said. But that didn’t happen. 

Flatland said that instead, he’s seen plenty of support from people still looking forward to Mu opening — despite the delay. 

“For the most part everybody is super excited,” he said. 

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