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True Hero: Alex C. Teves

True Hero: Alex C. Teves
Avg. Reading Time: 11 min

 

I’m hesitant to write this, but in order to accurately tell his story, I have to tell mine.

I grew up in Aurora, Colorado, I was born and raised here, and I graduated with the same kids I met on the first day of school. Our city is a large-small town, meaning that everyone knows everyone. Even when I moved to college eight hours away in Durango; Aurora came with me.

On July 20th 2012 at 7:00 am I woke up and checked my phone to a report that a gunman had killed 12 people the night before. My heart sank. The shooting happened at Century 16, a theater I had gone to since the day it was built. I knew exactly where theater nine was. I could see it in my head. I immediately responded like most would, by scanning the internet for details about what had happened. The media was reporting that someone had opened fire, people were dead, and there weren’t a lot of details as to why. Soon more information came out and it all clicked. This was an attack on Aurora. This was an attack on my neighborhood, my high school, and my friends.

Frantically I started messaging friends to make sure they were alright. Anyone that had posted about going to the movies that night left me in a cold sweat. One friend had decided not to go; I received a message from a mutual friend saying he was ok. That feeling of relief is something that I will always remember. I knew then that I had to do something to help.

What started simply as social media outreach, trying to coordinate those who were safe and those who hadn’t been heard from, quickly turned into organizing a vigil so everyone could meet up. Within hours of creating a Facebook event, the size had tripled. It became overwhelmingly difficult to maintain the event page and monitor inappropriate comments. Monitoring the vigil group and posting information and helpful links consumed my entire morning. This lead to finding a Facebook page called “Aurora Theater Shooting”. Unlike the national and local news, the page was posting helpful information:

“Bonfils Blood Center is currently accepting appointments from community members wanting to donate blood on behalf of the Aurora movie theater shootings that occurred early this morning. All six Denver metro donor centers are open today until 7 p.m. and there are also mobile drives open to the public. Please call 303.366.2000”

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I messaged the page hoping to help:

“I would love to work with you on doing a fundraiser for the hospital bills. I work in IT, social media, and with several state and national politicians so I would love to donate my time setting something up. I do not want to have my name on anything, this is not about me. Please let me know your thoughts. –Scott” Jul 20, 2012 2:43pm

In writing this, I re-read every conversation Laura and I had that day. It’s heartbreaking and hard to read. She started the page for the same reason I offered to join, she felt helpless. That first day we received close to two thousand likes and hundreds of comments. We both took turns monitoring the page and posting information we both thought would be helpful. More people soon joined the page to help monitor comments and post content. Unlike the media and other pages that soon popped up, we posted helpful information specifically designed for people looking to help or get help themselves. We posted hospital phone numbers, the website to donate blood, the names of confirmed victims, and resources we thought would help. We also regularly posted on the page what we believed the goal of the page was:

“Just a reminder to everyone. This site is about bringing people together to help support the community through this challenge. Any negative posts or arguments will be deleted. We’re not trying to be censors, but this is not a place for arguing, blaming or politics. This is a page about positive support for the community. Let’s spread love; because that’s what everyone needs right now.” -Laura

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In the coverage of the shooting, the humanity of the event was lost. People were reported as numbers, my community was a dot on a map, and the shooter’s name and face was on every channel running day and night. It’s one thing to see tragedy on the news and empathize with people you don’t know; it’s another thing entirely to be one those people. I am fortunate that I did not lose anyone that day, I could not imagine a pain worse than what I already felt, to know that a part of your life, your flesh and blood, or a close friend was gone forever. I have experienced a few deaths in my lifetime, but nothing close to this. Unfortunately, a lot of people I know did.

On July 22nd, Aurora held an official vigil at the city capital. The entire city was there. I went with a few of my friends. We bought super hero shirts and draped the Colorado and the American flag over our shoulders.

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Although it was a somber event, you could feel the pride for Aurora that day. The conversation was uplifting about the police and firemen that ran into the theater and drove wounded victims to the hospitals in the back of their cars, stories about family and friends that were lost, and good memories from high school and going to the movies. In a lot of ways, the vigil showed the world that this small suburb of Denver was more than the location where a shooting happened, but a community that had each other’s back.

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In late July, Copper Kettle Brewing Company announced they were planning an event for the victims called “A Night to Remember”. It would be a beer festival in honor of Alex C. Teves, an original mug member that was killed in the shooting. A close friend of mine invited me to the event. She and Alex were classmates in college at DU. Curious about who Alex was, I read anything I could find.

Alex Teves was on a date with his girlfriend. They were at the midnight showing of the new Batman movie, they were both superhero fanatics. My friend Kat told me that when the shooter walked into the theater and began opening fire, Alex dove on top of his girlfriend to cover her from the bullets. He saved her life at the cost of his own. My eyes swelled with tears and my heart dropped. This was the story of a real life superhero.

After following a few links from news articles, I found a clip of his mother and father talking that broke my heart. They reminded me of my folks. Caren Teves reminded me of my mom. I could see the loss in her eyes and thought about how my mom would feel. Thinking about a mother losing her son is like an empty hole in your stomach that devours your entire body and then knocks you to your knees. That feeling only became stronger as I learned more.

Alex was a guy that embodied the stories I was raised on. He represented every tale of romance and heroism, of good versus evil, and of love triumphing. His life was inspiring to me. As I learned more about him and those he left behind, I came across several articles talking about his love of beer, his membership to an exclusive mug club, and Copper Kettle Brewing Company; his home away from home.

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On August 2nd, I went to “A Night to Remember” at Copper Kettle Brewing Company. I had never been to the brewery, but I had seen it daily on my drive to and from work, I was not a big beer drinker back then. Kat and her husband Ben met me at the brewery. We walked around and heard stories about Alex from his friends, each one returning to his spirit and humor. He had made such a huge impact on so many people that it was comforting to be with them. In those few hours, all the news vanished and only a community remained. Although, they were broken with grief and loss, they were held together by family and friends. In talking with people, I learned a little bit about a weird subculture of people that enjoyed locally produced beer, had amazing facial hair, and what a real food truck was. Although I did not drink, I did eat some incredible food and got a a few growlers to bring home. Copper Kettle soon became a regular stop, picking up a new growler or re-filling my Mexican Chocolate Stout on my way home. I became familiar with the owners and the staff as well as some of the regulars. My curiosity lead me into homebrewing.

On August 4th, I went to the Brew Hut and walked out with the most expensive kit you could buy, including a recipe for Dry Dock’s Vanilla Porter. It was a simple recipe that was premeasured in a kit with a DVD and instructions. I’d love to say that my first recipe was amazing, that it is the reason I started brewing, and that was the moment I knew I wanted to be in the craft beer industry, but it wasn’t. My Dad and I brewed the beer on a weekend and a few weeks later we bottled it. Then two weeks later we TRIED to drink it. I emphasize “tried” because it was undrinkable; it was incredibly sour and hot. Unknown to us, we thought this is how homemade beer was meant to taste, but wanted to be sure; so we brewed another batch. The results of the Irish Red were the same, undrinkable. Like any good student, I decided I needed to learn more. I didn’t know why our beer tasted so bad, but I knew I’d be able to find out why by buying some books.

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I drove back to the Brew Hut and bought what’s commonly referred to as the “Homebrew Bible”: Charlie Papazian’s “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing”. On Monday morning I brought the book with me to work. On that day a guy came by my office and saw the book sitting on my desk in a pile of personal belongings that I had yet to put away, I had just moved my desk. As I putting things away, Winthrop Dada came by to say hi and introduce himself. He was a new employee at the company we had just acquired. We began talking a bit about his role, the move from California, and the company when he saw the homebrewing book on my desk.

“You brew?”
“No, not yet. We just started but it came out really bad.”
“Oh cool, I’ve been brewing since I was 14.”

Just like that, Win and I hit it off talking about IT and beer. We became friends at work and soon setup a day that I could come over and watch him brew. His attitude was “it’s still beer” and to relax a bit when brewing. He said that small mistakes would not ruin your beer, it would only change it a bit, so if you stick to the fundamentals of sanitation, hitting your temperatures, and hitting your final volume, the rest is the fun part. After that, it was all downhill. We starting brewing regularly on the weekends, I picked up more equipment, and I started inviting friends to join us.

Win’s brewing method is a bit different from most homebrewers. Most people cool their wort after boiling using a chiller so that they can immediately pitch their yeast at around 68 degrees. Win pours his boiling wort into a fermentation bucket and lets it sit over night to chill. He believes that by doing this, brewers lower the risk of entering the “danger zone” when beer can be easily infected. By waiting until the next day, you minimize the possible exposure to only a few seconds when you crack open the lid to pitch your yeast the next day.

On December 7th 2012, I cracked open my first drinkable beer. It was Win’s Chocolate Porter, his original recipe, brewed the way he taught me. I cannot describe the pride of accomplishment I felt in that first sip. I was hooked. I started buying more equipment, reading more books, watching every video on YouTube, and scrolling through every homebrew forum I could find. From that first beer I then brewed about 20 batches using extract before I moved to an all-grain setup.

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On March 27th I brewed my first lager. It was an Pre-Prohibition American Lager that I made for my Dad called “Prohibit Prohibition”. He’s a Miller Light kind of guy, so I figured if he was going to drink American adjunct beer, I was going to make it myself. My recipe won a bronze medal at the Brew Hut’s Annual Homebrew Competition:

RECIPE – https://www.brewtoad.com/recipes/prohibit-prohibition-lager

 

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Homebrewing quickly became a very large piece of my life. I enjoying brewing with friends and learning more about beer, I loved the science behind building recipes, and the relaxing nature of sitting around watching water boil while enjoying a beer. In talking to other brewers and from my research on the American Homebrewers Association website, the next thing to do was to to join a homebrew club. Unfortunately Aurora did not have any. So I started one.

On September 20th 2013, we founded 5830co homebrewing club. It was named after the elevation in Centennial where I lived, a play on 5280. We started with eight original members, including friends I grew up with, my cousin, and Win.

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On weekends we’d all go over to Win’s house to brew with him and learn more about brewing. As more people joined the club, we started doing regular brewery tours and educational meetings. This has became the staple of our club. Each month, members vote on a brewery they would like to visit, we hold a monthly meeting and invite guest speakers to talk about specific aspects of brewing, and we try to all brew together as a club. This also inspired our club’s mission: Education, Competition, and Community.

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Education starts with our members. Our club has a group on Facebook that we talk about what we would like to learn more about. When we wanted to learn more about yeast, we asked Ursula Brewery to do a presentation on yeast propagation; when we started getting into barrel aging, we invited Paradox Beer Company to talk at one of our meetings about proper techniques and the lessons they have learned barrel aging all of their beers; and when we wanted to learn more about hops, we drove down to Arvada to talk to Voss Farms and help pick fresh hops.

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Competition is what drives us. The recognition that what you’ve made is among the best, is a feeling of accomplishment that encourages you to keep improving. Our club focuses on learning beer styles and brewing to that style. We hold tastings with mock judging notes, sample commercial beers, and encourage members to pursue BJCP and Cicerone certifications. We feel that understanding the style and history of a beer will improve the quality and the technical process.

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Community is the reason we got started and the main goal of our club. Colorado offers an incredibly unique brewing culture. Breweries and people in the industry have been amazing to our club. What started as a few guys taking tours of breweries has turned into several collaboration beers with our club, two GABF Pro-Ams, and our Two Year Anniversary tap takeover at Two Penguins Tap and Grill. We were also recently featured in Brew Your Own Magazine for our quarterly competition collaboration with Dad & Dude’s Breweria where we break members into groups to compete for the honor of making their homebrew recipe on a professional system.

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The Fermentologists are a group of men and women that enjoy the science and creativity that fermentation has to offer, we challenge each other to constantly improve, and we work to share the world of craft beer and brewing with others so that they may enjoy what Alex loved the most; the community and culture at the heart of Colorado.

Through a series of events, all unrelated in chance and reason, I discovered something that has given me incredible purpose and passion. I discovered a community that loved and embraced a superhero as their own, that celebrated his life, and mourned his loss. I jumped feet first into unknown waters, only to drown in doubt and question my abilities, and after almost giving up; I was inspired by the entirety of the industry.

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It was in Alex’s memory that I founded a homebrewing club. When I was in a dark place, from the loss of so much life, a raft was thrown to me and I pulled aboard. It is because of these events, that I have a passion for not only teaching others, but to embrace the community that embraced me. I was inspired by those that gave as much as themselves as he gave to them. It is with our group that I see the same opportunity to be a community of brothers and sisters that share a passion for what they do, to live our lives with vigor as he did, and to pull others out of the water by teaching them how to swim.

Please visit the Alexander C Teves Foundation (ACT Foundation) to find out how you can donate to fund scholarships, mentor programs, and opportunities to students with unique academic, social, and/or emotional needs.

Cheers to Alex C. Teves, Copper Kettle’s Brew Club Member #28, a friend, a son, a boyfriend, a loyal customer, and a craft beer drinking-food truck loving-real life superhero.

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