Brian O'Connell is a bit of a rebel who doesn't believe in doing what everyone else is already doing. He's a trailblazer. So when it came time to name his new brewery, he says the answer was obvious: Renegade Brewing Company. "I don't care if we're different, I want us to be different, I want us to stand apart."
Brian and his wife Khara opened Renegade on June 26th, 2011 in Denver's Santa Fe Arts District and close to two other breweries just blocks away - Strange Brewing Company and the long-established Breckenridge Brewery. He quickly learned that that he'd located in the right place. "About a week after we opened, Todd Thiebault (Marketing Director) from Breckenridge came down, sat in my taproom, had a beer and invited me to come down to their 21st anniversary party and be part of it and pour our beer. We were the only other brewery invited."
Welcome to the neighborhood.
Brian says the nearby Strange crew are just as friendly and open as well. "It feels more like a club" than competition, and it doesn't hurt that Coloradans welcome new breweries with open arms. "I think opening at this time is great because the craft beer industry is doing so well and people are so excited about it. For us to be able to get into the industry with giants of craft beer who have been in this state for decades like Breckenridge right down the street and Great Divide and New Belgium and Odell - for those companies to be welcoming to us and for there to be room for us, you know for us to be doing so well ... tells me this is a great time to start."
It helps, too, that Renegade is in the heart of the Santa Fe Arts district, where thousands of people come every month for the First Friday Art Walk. Damon McLeese of Access Gallery, located just around the corner from Renegade, likes his neighbor. "Renegade attracts a good crowd, too, and the more people who visit the neighborhood the better." McLeese says the First Friday crowd is young, looking to see cool art and have a good time. Art lovers can be beer lovers, too.
Being a renegade means that Brian stands apart, and is making a place for his beers among the ever-growing craft beer scene in Colorado. "Renegade is really about doing what we want to do and making the beers that we want to drink", says Brian. "And so we're not really concerned about necessarily following the trends of the industry, or making the beer that everyone else is making." Each of their flagship beers reflect this philosophy, including Ryeteous, a Rye IPA and Una Mas, a Mexican amber with roasted chili peppers.
Brian's future includes moving into large-scale distribution, and introducing new people to Renegade's brews who may otherwise not have a chance to try them. He's ramping up capacity by adding a 30bbl brite tank and 30bbl fermenter. He's expanded inside bar seating, and with the city's blessing will add outside seating in time for summer. And he hooked up with the crew from Mobile Canning with plans to package his Ryeteous IPA in 16oz tallboys and sell them at liquor store across the state. Soon all of us can have a little Renegade in us.
For now, Renegade beers are only available at Renegade Brewing. While you're there, be sure to check out the many galleries along Sante Fe Avenue - especially Access Gallery and the Art-O-Mat vending machine, just around the corner. First Friday visits can generate a powerful thirst for the unique beers that Renegade serves.
Renegade Brewing Company
925 W. 9th Ave.
Denver, CO 80204
Hours: Sun 2pm-9pm, T-Th 2pm-9pm, F-Sat 2pm-10pm