Duane said it best when he said, “It’s all about the beer.” This is the simplest and truest statement about The Rocky Mountain Brewery Beer. “We don’t have just any beer and cyder on tap. We have OUR beer and cyder.”
I first met Duane Lujan at his home brew shop, “My Home Brew Shop”, several years ago. He was located in a tiny little strip shopping area just off Academy and Dublin. I had recently moved to Colorado Springs from Littleton, CO and knew of Duane’s shop from his previous association with Highlander Home Brew in Littleton. Highlander had since closed up but Duane was still going strong. Perhaps it is his contagious enthusiasm for what he does that keeps it going.
At the time, I was considering trying my hand at starting a business but did not know for sure what. After being a customer for several months, I approached Duane and asked if he had any plans for expansion and would he consider a partner. He was interested but it never went any further than talking about it a couple times. I ultimately went a different direction. I should have pursued the idea with Duane a bit harder.
His business did grow. He added Brew-on-Site at the shop for home brewers to learn and have a space to brew. Ultimately, he bought out Blick’s Brewing Co. a very small brewery located in a warehouse area near Powers Blvd. and Platte Ave.
Duane moved into the new location at 625 Paonia Street and opened up shop, with just the home brew business out front and the Brew-on-Site space behind. The name of the shop changed to My Home Brew and Winecrafters. All the while, he tinkered with the brewing equipment in the back of the building and developed plans for the future.
Rocky Mountain Brewery had been the name of the first brewery in Denver, established in the late 1800’s. Duane could not believe his good fortune that the name was not being used anymore. So, he quickly secured it for his new enterprise. He even survived a legal skirmish with another, much larger brewery startup who also wanted the name.
He developed recipes based from his home brewing experience while navigating the intricacies of obtaining the necessary federal and state brewing licenses. Finally, in May 2008, Rocky Mountain Brewery opened its doors with a hand-full of beers on tap . It looked much like a brewery in a garage.
The brewery was located behind the home brew shop and still provided space for home brewers to learn the craft while the shop provided the ingredients. As the brewery grew, the home brew shop was relocated to the far end of the low blue metal building. The shop continues to provide support and all the ingredients and equipment required by local home brewers. Duane’s business partner, James Pratt, holds down the fort at this end of the business. James is a bit eccentric, but there is no brewing question he cannot answer. He can probably guess what you are brewing by the ingredients you purchase.
Initially, Duane encouraged his patrons to bring their own food or order in from nearby establishments. He even provided a grill out on the patio for customers to use. Now, eats are provided by Brad Hammond’s B’z BBQ out of the big yellow food truck parked next to the patio area. Serving up ribs, pulled pork, brisket, buffalo brats, and smoked chicken; all with their award winning sauces.
And, speaking of awards, Duane has a few of his own. A Gold at the World Beer Cup in 2010 for Da’ Yoopers, a Cherry Pie ale (you can even taste the crust!) and in 2012, another Gold for Eat a Peach (obviously a Peach ale) and a Silver for Da’ Yoopers, both in the same category.
Duane and his Head Brewer, Nick Hilborn and their staff continue to brew with the wild abandon and creative fire of of a mad home brewer. Anything they can think of is fair game and likely to become their next creation. Since 2008 they have brewed over 100 different beers and a number of creative cyders as well.
The brewery has hosted a wide variety of charity benefits, many for their friends at nearby Peterson AFB. They also hold a weekly trivia contest and leak a few questions on their Facebook page.
Rocky Mountain Brewery is a bit hidden on the east side of Colorado Springs but well worth seeking out. Off Powers Blvd. head east on Galley, turn right at the Post Office, this is Paonia. The long low blue building will be on your right where Paonia dead ends. You cannot miss the B’z BBQ big yellow food truck.
And, look for Rocky Mountain’s brews in cans at your favorite local liquor stores!
Rocky Mountain Brewery
625 Paonia Street
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80915
Hours of Operation
Monday – Wednesday 11 AM to 9 PM
Thursday 11AM to Midnight
Friday – Saturday 11 AM to 1 AM
Sunday – Closed