While the field of hops grows ever wider in Littleton, the granddaddy of them all is celebrating its first year in business.
“People ask if, looking back at all the work it took to do it, would we do it again,” said Kim Keating, one of the owners of 38 State Brewing Company, when it opened last May. “That would be a definite yes. And we're rallying the other brewers that are opening up to just keep going.”
The rallying cry worked. Since then, two other independent craft breweries have opened their doors in the city, and Breckenridge Brewery is set to open next month.
And 38 State itself has grown by leaps and bounds. When the four owners started, they did everything themselves. Now they employ about nine other people and have expanded their hours to be open every day. A three-year plan to add six more vats will come to fruition this summer, two years early, and co-owner Brett Blazek said that will allow them to go from brewing 30 gallons at a time to more than 200.
38 State was the first craft brewery in Littleton to actually get the barrel rolling. At the time, such companies were only allowed in industrial areas like the Santa Fe corridor, where Breckenridge Brewery will open next month.
But after dealing with 38 State, city staff recommended that the law be changed to allow microbreweries, wine makers and microdistilleries in certain commercial areas like shopping centers and downtown. City council ultimately agreed, passing an ordinance that limits their size and requires 30 percent of the building to be dedicated to retail sales and a tasting room.
The action actually came too late to help 38 State, which opened last May in a former automotive shop south of the Office Depot at Broadway and County Line Road. The garage doors open up to tables and a bar, along with a jukebox, Pac-Man machine and Golden Tee. While they don't have a kitchen, they regularly invite local food trucks and welcome deliveries and picnics.
“We looked at a lot of places,” said Blazek. “Finding this was like a diamond in the rough. … The little hole-in-the-wall place is where you want to go, because you get that personal touch. It's become your home base.”
It took just a couple of weeks for Jerry and Matt McCarr to become regulars, stopping by after work several times a week to sip a craft brew on tap and refill their growler.
“The beer is amazing, the service is awesome, the bartenders are relaxed,” said Jerry McCarr. “And we love that it's a local small business.”
That reaction is exactly what the owners were hoping for, said Blazek.
“We feel like a real member of the community now,” he said. “When you're here at 38 State, you know who we are and what we're about, and that's a beautiful thing.”
If You Go
Celebrate 38 State Brewing Company's One-Year Anniversary
Noon to 11 p.m., May 9
8071 S. Broadway, Unit A
Littleton, Colo. 80122
Live music by Black and Blue Guys and OAK, gourmet burgers from The Hamborghini, a live broadcast from American Craft Beer Radio, games, giveaways, and more.