RIDGWAY – The holiday season in Ridgway will get a boost of cheer on Friday, Dec. 26 when Tom and Sandy Hennessy open the doors to the Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery for the first time and offer up the freshest, locally brewed beer at the special grand opening price of $2 a pint.
With a few tables and a short row of barstools, the pub at the corner of Cora and Clinton streets is, as its slogan states, “a wee humble pub in downtown Ridgway” that will provide thirsty locals and visitors traditionally brewed ales and coffee. Co-owner Tom, who has already been hard at work crafting Colorado Boy’s beer, said the pub will be a place for the community to gather, listen to some music and converse.
“It really is a gathering place for the community where people can simply hang out and have a pint,” Tom said, adding that because there are other sports-bar lounges nearby, he won’t be hanging a TV to show the weekend’s games. “I see no reason to compete with them.”
Already Tom has a pale ale and an IPA on tap ready for Friday’s grand opening and plans to have an Irish ale ready to serve up as well. Tom calls himself a traditionalist when it comes to his brewing style. He stays away from hop over-kill in his IPA and doesn’t get into fruit-flavored beers that have become popular with the ever-growing microbrew movement that is occurring across the state and country.
“I stick with traditional beer brewing,” he said. “The fruit beers are OK but that is for someone else to do. I don’t think I am a beer snob, I just like traditional brewing methods.”
Tom began his brewing career in 1994 when he opened Il Vicino, a wood-fired pizza and brewery establishment in Salida, Colo. After selling it in 1999, Tom and Sandy took their ventures to Palisade and in 2002 opened the award winning Palisade Brewery. Keeping footloose, Tom and Sandy sold that brewery in 2005 and began traveling to various parks in Alaska, California and Colorado as National Park Rangers.
When Tom and Sandy decided to return to the Western Slope, they settled on Ridgway, where the two had participated in the beer festival in 1995. They moved to Ridgway in 2006, working in Telluride in the winter and for the park service in the summer. They eventually wanted to open a business that wouldn’t compete with those already established. After a vacation to the Highlands of Scotland, they returned to the idea of starting another brewery.
“The brewing scene in the UK right now is really cool,” Tom said. “We went to into this steak and ale pub – a really small brewery. I had a steak-and-ale pie and a cask conditioned ale. The food and the beer was so incredible, I had tears in my eyes.”
It was then Tom and Sandy decided to dive back into the brewing business and open up the Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery.
Tom said he plans to use all domestic organic malts for Colorado Boy ales. The hops, he said, will depend on what is available, but will more than likely come from the Pacific Northwest. He is planning to brew a robust porter in the near future, but as his brewing capacity remains very small (300 barrel capacity) he is planning to brew various styles of beer with some lighter lagers in the summer months along with English-style ales. He said he is even playing with the idea of brewing cask conditioned ales that use a traditional hand pump. “There are over 90 styles of beer and I will keep playing with them,” he said.
And then there is the naming of his new brew. He plans to keep that simple as well. His brews will be named simply as Colorado Boy IPA, Colorado Boy Irish Ale, and so on.
The wee little pub in Ridgway is also built with the environment in mind. To start, the bar is from a drugstore in Olathe where it was in use approximately 100 years ago. All the water the brewery uses is solar heated from 30 solar tubes that have been installed on the roof. Wind energy credits have been purchased from the San Miguel Power Association to offset the carbon footprint of the brewery’s energy use. Tom has also set up a system that circulates the heat generated by the refrigeration equipment throughout the building. The spent grain and yeast is fed to local cattle and the beer packaging (glass pints and growlers) are cleaned and reused.
“Basically the only thing that will get thrown away is the paper napkins and the paper towels we use at the bar,” Tom said.
Food at the Colorado Boy will be kept to popcorn, and for those non-drinkers, Tom will be brewing Colorado Boy root beer in addition to coffee from his traditional lever-press coffee machine.
Kegs from the Colorado Boy will be available sometime after the first of the year, which he said he hopes some of the local bars and restaurants will decide to serve at their establishments. Growlers will be available for $9.50 the first time; return the empty and receive a full growler for $7.50. Prices of pints will vary depending on the style of beer brewed at the time. Two-dollar pints will be available for this weekend’s opening celebrations (Fri.-Sun.) only. The pub will be open Saturday and Sundays from 1-8 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday. It is closed on Mondays.
“This is a small brewery,” he said. “We will be supplying beer for this pub, a few tap accounts and that is about it. The tanks from where the beers come are two feet from the tap. It can’t get any fresher than that.”