Wit’s End Brewing Closing Current Location to Join Strange Craft Beer
It’s been a tumultuous week for the Denver craft beer scene beginning with news that Asheville’s Thirsty Monk has acquired the space currently inhabited by Deep Draft Brewing and that Deep Draft would in turn close. Earlier today the Westword also reported that De Steeg Brewing has been acquired by new ownership, who plans to retool the four year old brewery and add another brand in Blind Faith Brewing focusing on Belgian-styles. However today’s announcement that Wit’s End Brewing will be closing it’s current location and move operations to share brewing and taproom space with Strange Craft Beer at 1330 Zuni Street, signals a more significant shift in the landscape of Denver’s craft beer scene.
The unorthodox brewery union will also result in Wit’s End Head Brewer Tyler Bies, who’s been on staff with Wit’s End for the past four years and brewing for the past year and a half, moving to take over head brewing responsibilities for both Strange Craft and Wit’s End, freeing Strange Craft owner Tim Myers to focus on day-to-day business operations. Wit’s End founder Scott Witsoe will retain 100% ownership of Wit’s End and still plans to contribute future recipes, and help with occasional events, but will be stepping back from operations.
“I think any successful business owner needs to pivot, whether that is a reactive or a proactive move. We are doing a bit of both,” said Witsoe. “I want to see us flourish in the new space and increase our distribution. As we evaluate what we are each bringing to the table, there will be many things that will elevate both brands I’m sure,” Witsoe continued.
“The craft beer environment has changed dramatically since Strange opened in 2010 and Wit’s End opened in 2011,” says Myers. “Local neighborhood breweries need to innovate and get creative to stand out in the increasingly crowded market. I have thought for years that a shared facility solved many of these challenges. Sharing brewing facilities, staff, and rent reduces overhead significantly. Combining brew staff allows for greater recipe creativity and innovation— which we hope will lead to more satisfied patrons.”
Strange Craft and Wit’s End represent two of Denver’s five earliest pioneers in taproom driven craft brewing operations and the start to an eventual wave that now accounts for nearly 70 taproom breweries within city limits. In fact, when Wit’s End opened in 2011 it was Denver’s smallest brewery, opening on a 1 barrel brew system. Since inception, the two breweries were intertwined by both proximity, located just a mile and a half from each other on Denver’s west side, and inspiration.
“There was an article in the Denver Post about Strange, and I thought wow, someone in this town is doing the same thing I was thinking about,” recalls Witsoe. “I visited Strange immediately and met Tim…after bugging the hell out of him with questions for a year, I started Wit’s End. So not only was he my original inspiration, he has helped me countless times through the years and has become a great friend.”
“Tim and I already share many of our great customers, and now we can bring everyone together into one happy craft beer family,” adds Witsoe. “We will have at least four Wit’s End taps flowing at all times. And I will have a tiny corner of the brewery where I can play with recipes on a small scale.”
After the move, Wit’s End still plans to serve it’s core lineup of beers including Jean-Claude Van Blond Belgian-style Blonde Ale, Wilford Belgian-style Oatmeal IPA, and Green Man Ale, as well a rotation of seasonal offerings. Strange Craft will also continue to serve its core lineup, joined by One Barrel Wednesday brews, and an array of other experimental and collaboration beers.
As a bittersweet goodbye tribute to Wit’s End’s old facility, which plans to close during the last week in November, along with it’s new union with Strange Craft, the two breweries have planned a collaboration brew to celebrate their co-habitation. The collaboration will be a hoppy Belgian Session Ale brewed with honey, called Moving Day. It will be fermented with a blend of Strange Craft and Wit’s End’s house yeast strains.