AURORA, Colo. — Dry Dock Brewing Company in Aurora is set to close its Tower Road taproom and move brewing operations to Great Divide Brewing Company's Denver facility.
When Dry Dock first opened up in 2002, it was a small homebrew shop. Since then, a lot has changed for the company and industry in general.
After expanding in 2012, they have been able to brew more than 20,000 barrels of beer a year and distribute all across the state.
"It's a little bittersweet, because we bought this building in 2012 and we've grown. And we're very excited, though, about the partnership with Great Divide and being more efficient," said Kevin DeLange, co-owner of Dry Dock Brewing Company about the decision to close down their production facility and have Great Divide take over brewing operations.
By December, the facility on Tower Road will close. The taproom will stay open a little longer before also shutting down.
"[Great Divide] are able to produce all of their brands and our brands together. Some of our staff will move over to Great Divide as well. So together, we'll just be stronger moving forward," said DeLange.
Dry Dock beer will be brewed out of Great Divide's downtown Denver facility.
"We both were operating facilities which were not fully utilized," said Brian Dunn, founder of Great Divide Brewing Company. "Our facility here has a very large capacity, and we're not using all of it. With manufacturing, the more that you can use a major manufacturing facility, the more efficient it becomes."
The two founders say they've been friends for years and in a changing and saturated market, beer lovers will likely see more breweries consolidate or contract brewing.
"I think you'll continue to see this trend moving forward in craft beer around the country. Especially in Colorado, where we've known each other for so long, where we're trying to get together and be more efficient, and do what's best together as a brand to continue to keep craft beer strong," said DeLange.
Bernardo Alatorre is the brewery operations program coordinator for Metropolitan State University Denver. He said moving forward, more craft brewing companies may make the tough choice to limit business growth to be able to successfully stay in the market.
"[The decision] supports both. Supports one in a transition to actually downsize in a way, and the other one in actually maintaining a volume in their facilities. I think what they're doing is the right, the best thing that they could do given the circumstances," said Alatorre, "The problem is, circumstances are pretty negative. It's pretty cloudy out there in the market."
Dry Dock is hopeful the production partnership with Great Divide will also lead to a partnership in sales and marketing of the two brands.
"We're going to start out with just being efficient with Great Divide. Then we're excited after we get this all figured out, going into 2024 to be able to work with Great Divide on innovations of new brands that we might have and to be able to expand our footprint across the country will be another really exciting part of this partnership."
A handful of Dry Dock staff will be moving over to Great Divide, including the current director of brewery operations. Both companies say the Dry Dock recipes will remain exactly the same regardless of the change in brewery location.
Dry Dock's original south Aurora taproom will remain open. They will still serve beer brewed at the Great Divide facility, in addition to small batch projects.
DeLange said he's looking forward to getting back to his roots.
"I'll be back at the homebrew shop where we started, and then our original taproom and brewery down at Hampton and Chambers," he said.