In a one-two move in Denver’s southern suburbs, Grist Brew Co. said Wednesday it will close its 12-year-old Highlands Ranch taphouse, at 9150 Commerce Center Circle, at the end of the year, while Littleton’s Living the Dream Brewing will take Grist’s place in January.
Living the Dream is also moving into the small bar that Grist had been operating inside the Sterling Center, a building at 8155 Piney River Ave. that serves residents of Littleton’s Sterling Ranch neighborhood. That change will take place on Dec. 29.
Grist owners Chuck Norman and Jim Mack, both petroleum engineers by trade, had originally been “passive” investors and are now “ready to get back to our roots,” Norman said.
Living the Dream owner Jason Bell, on the other hand, “knows the industry and has spent many years in it. He’s on-site every day, and that’s an important part of success,” Norman said. And while Living the Dream is buying Grist’s assets and taking over its leases, it isn’t buying the company itself. “Grist will still be alive, but what we do with it, I don’t know.”
The move “just makes sense,” said Bell, who opened Living the Dream, at 12305 Dumont Way, in 2014. “We have been looking for a new home for the better part of a year and a half.”
“It’s a big deal, a lot of work and a good amount of money,” Bell continued, speaking about the mile-or-so move up Santa Fe Drive to Grist’s spot. “The economy is not robust, either, but this is when you can make those kinds of moves — and hopefully they pay off.”
The move is also an upgrade, Bell explained, in part because Grist’s brewing system is bigger, more advanced and more efficient than the one at Living the Dream, but also because Grist’s space, including the taproom and the overall infrastructure, is “much nicer.”
If anything, Bell joked, Living the Dream will have to rough it up around the edges to give it the more rustic and outdoorsy feel that his customers are accustomed to. Living the Dream has a heavy focus on skiing, both in its decor and its beer names. Powder Run Cream Ale and its variations, for instance, are the brewery’s biggest-selling beers in cans and taproom flagship.
While Grist served food, Bell said Living the Dream, which will close its existing location, will continue to rely on food trucks, as it has done in the past.
The business of brewing beer has changed quite a bit over the past decade, Bell said, as the industry has matured and public habits have changed. “Ten years ago, it was 65% fun and cool, and 35% business. Now it’s 95% business.” To survive in the existing beer economy, each brewery needs to know how it fits in and what its goals are for the future.”
The deal is expected to close on Dec. 29. Bell said he hopes to make cosmetic changes after that and reopen inside Grist in mid-January.
This story was originally published by The Denver Post, a BusinessDen news partner.