Home brewers bring beer to masses

Jane Reuter
Posted

Lone Tree beer lovers can thank Jason Wiedmaier’s parents for the long-ago gift of a home brew kit, and John Winter for making a split-second decision three years ago to stop in a brewing supply parking lot.

Those two events started the two on a love affair with home brewing, and on a path to the Park Meadows Drive building in which they plan to open Lone Tree Brewing this fall.

The two aim to create a European-style craft brewery and tasting room: Small and family friendly, with an emphasis on sampling small-batch brews and sharing the experience with fellow beer lovers.

“This will be very small, very hands on,” Winter said. “I think it will absolutely bring some people in that simply have never had this opportunity before. We actually hope as people come in to the brewery, they understand what they’re drinking, they know what they’re asking for and the difference the styles.”

Lone Tree Brewing will be a departure from large-scale restaurant/brewery combinations like the nearby Rock Bottom Brewery or downtown’s Wynkoop and Breckenridge breweries.

The owners won’t offer food, but will allow and encourage visitors to bring food or order from neighboring restaurants. Winter and Wiedmaier plan to make a couple varieties of soda, one of them likely root beer, for kids and non-drinkers. They envision area cyclists stopping in for a mid-ride break, families playing board games, work-at-home Lone Tree residents quietly tapping away at laptops and groups of friends gathering for the evening – all quaffing frothy drinks.

“We think it will be unique, and truly built around the community,” Winter said.

While the capacity hasn’t been set, seating will be limited to about 1,000 square feet of the 5,000-square-foot space. Dry Dock Brewing, a similar business in Aurora that inspired the men to create Lone Tree Brewing Company, seats 65.

The bulk of the brewery’s proposed hours will be during the day, with closings planned at 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. on weekends.

“We want to be a part of the community, not a night club,” Winter said. “We want people there that appreciate our beers and the craft brew industry.”

The two Denver men met at Aurora’s Brew Hut, a home brewing supply store. Wiedmaier, 34, has been a home brewer since he was legally able to drink beer.

“The Christmas that I turned 21, I got a home brew kit from my parents,” he said.

Wiedmaier, a full-time high school teacher, worked a side job at Dry Dock Brewery until earlier this year when he and Winter decided to open their own beer tasting room. The idea of making beer had been brewing in Winter’s mind for a while when fate played its hand about three years ago.

“I was driving down Broadway. There’s a little shop called Beer at Home and on a whim, I pulled over, went in and started talking to the folks there,” said Winter, 54. “I’ve just become very passionate about it. It’s like cooking in a way  —  creating something people enjoy.”

The partners began a long search last year for a site that eventually led them to Lone Tree. Upon seeing the Park Meadows Drive site, both immediately knew they were home.

“It was the best of all worlds,” Wiedmaier said. “The name, Lone Tree, we thought would make a really great name for our brewery. We liked the fact it’s a growing location. When we drove through Lone Tree, we weren’t seeing any empty storefronts. People are shopping, people are buying. The economy is good down here. And where Lone Tree is situated at I-25 and C-470; that is just an awesome area that is going to continue to see a lot of growth.”

Winter agrees, saying it’s a very vibrant area that “has the potential to lead the whole south Denver area.”

Because the business site backs up to the Acres Green neighborhood, the partners presented their idea recently to its homeowners association board. Not only did they give the idea a thumbs-up, board members made an unexpected request.

“They asked us if we would name a beer after Acres Green,” Wiedmaier said, “and we will.”

The brewery, which is still under review by city planners, is planned in the Parkway Point building at 8222 Park Meadows Drive, across the street from Furniture Row.