What’s a hip, up-and-coming Denver neighborhood without a brewery?
Jefferson Park got its watering hole Thursday when Little Machine Brewery opened at 2924 W. 20th Ave. Co-owner Ben Chenard said while new residents rush into Jefferson Park and East Sloan’s Lake, they’ve found a pocket of town that isn’t quite flooded by other breweries.
“There’s a nice little gap for breweries here,” Chenard said. “We have Strange about a mile away, Hogshead about a mile away and Joyride about a mile away, so we have this mile-wide buffer zone for breweries.”
Little Machine has about $800,000 invested in the brewery so far, Chenard said. They covered the startup costs with help from five different investors and a loan from US Bank.
Chenard owns Little Machine alongside former Dry Dock Brewing Co. employees Mike Dunkly and Brett Williams. Williams was the Aurora brewery’s head brewer, and Dunkly was the taproom manager before the pair started working on Little Machine.
In a busy Denver beer business, Chenard said he hopes his partners’ previous brewery experience will give Little Machine an edge.
“In such a competitive marketplace you need to come out of the gate with a strong product from the start,” Chenard said. “So having Brett involved was a major advantage for us.”
The brewery takes up about 3,400 square feet split about evenly between production space and a barroom. Little Machine leased the space at the beginning of the year. It previously housed mail packing and sorting company Print & Post.
Architect Bill Wood designed the space. Foothills Commercial Builders was the general contractor on the renovations. Broad Street Realty broker Forrest Bassett represented Little Machine in the lease negotiations.
For now Little Machine plans to do most of its sales over the bar but may try to do some one-off distribution deals with area restaurants. The brewery is working with a 10-barrel brewing system.
Little Machine took its name from the idea that no matter how big a machine may be, it can be broken down into a series of systems made of simple processes. Chenard didn’t want to call beer making simple – the bar had a coffee-infused oatmeal stout and a sour brew on tap Thursday – but said it all comes down to the right water, barley, hops and yeast.
“You can make it very complex, but it still breaks down to four main ingredients,” Chenard said.