Carbondale Brewery Focuses On Seasonal Beer, Being Local

Mar 28, 2014

Another craft brewery is joining a healthy contingent of taprooms across the Roaring Fork Valley. The Roaring Fork Beer Company will open its doors this weekend in Carbondale. The husband-wife team behind the new business hopes to set it apart by keeping it local. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

CEO and head brewer Chase Engel walks across a big open warehouse to several large tanks filled with bubbling liquids. This is where malted barley, hops, yeast and water come together to create beer. It’s about a two week process and the final stop is the so-called “bright tank.”

"We call it our bright tank because the beer is bright. It’s also your bottling tank, kegging tank, canning tank. Anything you’re going to package comes off of this tank," Engel says.

Engel says the process of creating beer is about 80 percent janitorial work and keeping things clean, 10 percent science and 10 percent creativity. The Texas native has been brewing beer for nearly a decade.

"I got intensely addicted to home brewing when I was in college and it was all I could think about. I had always thought that I would be a professor when I grew up, I was planning on going to grad school and then I started day dreaming about brewing beer while I was in some of my favorite classes, and I thought, ‘maybe I should rethink my career choice.’"

He found a job at Ska Brewing in Durango, washing kegs and bottling beer, and then went on to work for Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons. Finally he moved to the Valley where he became head brewer for the Aspen Brewing Company. It’s been his goal all along to open his own business.

"I would say since probably my second batch of homebrew, it’s been my dream to open a brewery," he says.

Engel’s entering the market when it’s hot and competitive. More than 10 percent of the nation’s craft breweries operate in Colorado. And, more than 200 of them are registered with the Colorado Brewer’s Guild. Because the market’s so fierce, he’s planning to distribute only in the Valley.

"I think we’re making ourselves stand out because we’re focusing on season brews, so we only have two mainline beers. Most breweries have six, seven or eight. Our focus is on putting out beers that match the season, and I think that’s pretty unique. And, just by brewing great beer, I think we’ll distinguish ourselves."

Aly Sanguily is Engel’s wife. She’s in charge of the tasting room across the parking lot from the brew house. This is where beer and food will be served. Sanguily points behind the bar.

"We have these things, which are sort of new and hip to the brewing industry. Only a few breweries have been doing them so far. And, they look like cans but they have our actual can label art wrapped around them and printed," she says.

The brewery plans to release four kinds of beer when it opens - a pub ale, belgian blonde, IPA and a pale ale. Sanguily says Engel has creative recipes some brewers are hesitant to try, so she thinks their product will stand out.

"We just want to be out of the box and maybe some of the craft beer drinkers that are afraid to try to something new, get them in here and expand their palate."

The brewery’s ticketed grand opening is this weekend. Regular hours at the tasting room start on Monday afternoon.