Aurora Business

Aurora’s Dry Dock brewery opening production facility allowing for cannery, up to 60,000 barrels of craft beer a year

The new location will house a four-vessel, 40-barrel brew house that can produce more than 60,000 barrels of beer per year, DeLange said. The goal is about 12,000 barrels in the first year

AURORA | When Aurora’s Dry Dock Brewing Company moves into a shiny new second facility this fall, the award-winning beer makers there will enjoy something they haven’t often had: room to grow.

Lyssa Walborn, employee, pours a Colorado Freedom Memorial Ale at Dry Dock Brewery in Aurora. The operation is expanding. (Heather L. Smith/The Aurora Sentinel)

The sprawling brewery and canning facility will cover 30,000 square feet on six acres near Tower Road and Interstate 70 in north Aurora.

For perspective’s sake, the new facility could hold more than 40 of Dry Dock’s original 700-square-foot facility.

Kevin DeLange, Dry Dock’s founder and owner, said the new facility gives the company plenty of flexibility going forward.

“The beauty of this building is we are getting such a large building and such a large brew house that all we have to do to grow is hire new employees and drop in more fermenters, more tanks, because there will be plenty of space to increase capacity quickly,” he said.

Construction on the new location is scheduled to start in August and brewing could start in November, DeLange said. Dry Dock’s current facilities at South Chambers Road and East Hampden Avenue will stay open.

The new location will house a four-vessel, 40-barrel brew house that can produce more than 60,000 barrels of beer per year, DeLange said. The goal is about 12,000 barrels in the first year.

DeLange said the company could have added a second facility a few years ago, but opted to wait for the ideal location.

“We wanted to make this the last big expansion we would do. It’s going to take us a while to grow into that building,” he said.

The new spot should be adequate for at least 10 years, he said.

Up to now, Dry Dock has been selling kegs to liquor stores and bars around town as well as 22-ounce bottles.

The new facility will include a canning line designed and fabricated by Wild Goose, a can line manufacturer in Boulder.

DeLange said because of the success Lyons-based Oskar Blues has enjoyed with their canned craft beers, canning is becoming more and more popular among craft beer enthusiasts.

“Cans have really taken off. A lot of people like the fact that they are lighter — they are recyclable,” he said.

Customers also like being able to take cans camping because they can smash them and easily carry out the empties, he said.

Michelle DeLange, the company’s co-owner and Kevin’s wife, said in a statement that Dry Dock is still working out which beers will be canned.

“We will continue to produce the Double IPA, Bligh’s Barleywine and other seasonals in bombers while putting our Apricot Blonde, Hefeweizen, Amber and a hoppy beer in cans,” she said.

What that “hoppy beer” will be is yet to be determined.

While the new facility will give the company plenty of room to grow, the current location near Chambers Road and Hampden Avenue will remain and give the beer makers a chance to experiment, DeLange said.

“There will be a lot of pressure taken off this facility,” he said of the 3,500-square-foot brewery and tap room, which opened in 2009.

About 30 percent of the beer made at the current location is sold to bars and liquor stores, DeLange said. All of that will be moved to the new location, freeing up space for the brewers to try some new things.

“Nothing changes here except it will be a little more of a playground for us, we’ll be able to do more barrel-aged beers and experimental batches here,” he said.

The company hopes to be distributing all over Colorado next year and to expand into other states in 2014, DeLange said.

As part of that, the company is looking for a distributor to push the product around the state. Today, Dry Dock’s two salesmen double as distributors, but DeLange said those salesmen will focus on sales once a distributor is in place.

Since the company opened in 2005, Aurora has been its home, first in a tiny facility near Hampden and Chambers before moving into the new location. When Dry Dock looked to add a second spot, DeLange said it was important to find a place in Aurora.

“It felt right to stay in Aurora,” DeLange said. “It wouldn’t have been right to go anywhere else.”

Reach reporter Brandon Johansson at 720-449-9040 or bjohansson@aurorasentinel.com

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