Baere Brewing is a gem among many small craft breweries in Denver. Their focus on small batch, sour beers has cultivated a following and truly placed them in the class of a “brewer’s brewery.” Each batch of beer Ryan and Kevin brew yields only about five kegs worth. Batches that small limit their distribution to only a handful of stores and even fewer draft accounts. We really enjoy supporting Baere and are pleased to be featuring them as our brewery of the month. Last week, I exchanged a couple emails with their founders, Kevin and Ryan. The following is that correspondence.
What/who were your early inspirations to make beer and where did you get your start?
Ryan: I had a friend in college in Fort Collins who made 5 gallon all grain batches at home. I first brewed with him a handful of times before getting a start-up kit from The Brew Hut. It all quickly spiraled out of control from there. Odell and New Belgium beer was obviously everywhere in Fort Collins and definitely helped set the stage for what I liked and what I wanted to brew. Odell IPA is an all time favorite beer of mine. Tank 7 and Saison Dupont were big inspirations for me. Kevin and I met through my wife, also named Ryan, some time ago and quickly found we had a common passion. Eventually the idea of starting a nano-brewery came up and turned into what is now a nearly 4 year old Baere Brewing Company.
Kevin: After college, I moved to Denver from Boulder and finally had enough money to consider drinking good beer on a regular basis. I spent numerous hours perusing coolers and shelves at shops around town to try as many new beers as I could find. After a couple years of trying new beers and learning a ton, I wandered into Beer at Home one day and bought a homebrewing kit. I ended up dumping my first beer and for some reason kept brewing. A few years later, Ryan and I met and Baere was born.
Sour beers are a big part of what you all do. What drove you in that direction? What was your “aha” sour beer moment? Mine was Duchesse many years ago.
Ryan: La Folie was the first sour beer I remember trying in Fort Collins in 2002. It was a fun novelty to try at New Belgium when it happened to be offered in the flights they poured. Transatlantique Kriek came out a couple years later and was equally as interesting to me. Kevin introduced me to the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywine festival sometime early in our friendship which has always showcased the growing number of American sour beers. While we always wanted to have some sort of sour beer program with our Baere-liner Weisse, I don’t think it was until we tasted our first mixed-culture barrel fermented and aged sour that we realized we wanted to make it a big part of what we do.
I like how you all tend to experiment within classic sour styles and make them your own. I.e. The dry hopped Gose or Frambruin. What’s the motivation and inspiration when developing these recipes?
Kevin: I’d say the motivation for these beers is flavor. When we try a barrel, we’re always discussing what would complement it well. Whether that is a specific hop varietal, fruit, spices, or just blending with other barrels. Like most American craft brewers, we never really considered anything off limits so we try to be open to new ideas.
What do you project for the growth of your company? How many barrels are you heading for? Do you plan to continue self-distributing?
Ryan: We’ve always embraced the idea of slow and steady and taking our time. We try to not be too reactive to the ups and downs of the industry as a whole. We are projecting brewing more than last year, but probably only by 50 – 100 barrels, which is pretty substantial for us as we only brewed 450 last year. It feels like a bit of a scary time in the industry to try to make any sort of big moves and seems a bit like putting the cart before the horse. We do plan on self-distributing in Colorado for at least a few more years.
What’s the origin story of your company and the name “Baere”?
Ryan: The word beer is thought to originate from the Anglo-Saxon word baere meaning barley. We’ve always been intrigued with the history of beer and it’s role in society. It just felt right!
A big thank you to Kevin and Ryan. Come by on Saturday, June 16th from 4-6 pm for a tasting with Baere.
The beer shelves in Colorado are crowded; full of breweries new and old vying to establish themselves as a staple in the public’s consumption habits. Or conversely, trying to hang on to their loyal clientele by attempting to re-invent themselves as a means to keep their production numbers up and beers exciting in the eye of that same public.