Denver Losing One of the Greats with Factotum Brewhouse’s Closure
Denver is losing one of the city’s great community-focused breweries… at least for now. Late last night, Denver’s Factotum Brewhouse announced that it would no longer be able to continue to operate from its current location after October 9. Citing skyrocketing leasing rates, brother and sister co-founders Laura and Christopher Bruns announced that Factotum Brewhouse would soon be without a home after six and a half years operating in the Sunnyside neighborhood.
In a social media post penned on Sunday evening, the Bruns siblings detailed difficulty negotiating with their current landlord to extend their lease three years ago. The duo also explored options to buy the property earlier this year, only to be met with a counteroffer of double the price of what they were hoping to pay for the building.
Like most small neighborhood breweries, Factotum experienced a particularly difficult 2020 year but was able to pivot to crowler sales, and later can sales in order to stay afloat. And while Factotum was able to weather the brunt of the pandemic, the Bruns’ noted that event cancellations as a result of COVID wiped an estimated $60,000 of revenue.
And while Laura and Christopher alluded in their announcement that they wouldn’t be completely closing the door on the possibility of re-opening Factotum elsewhere, they do intend to take a break in the interim.
“So where does that leave us? Truthfully we’re not 100% sure. We are a profitable, yet soon-to-be, homeless brewery. The good thing is that we are blessed with lots of options and we are exploring each of those options with clarity, pragmatism and logic. Some of those options are taking their sweet time to realize their full potential, but they’re on the table. Regardless, after October 9, we will be taking a little bit of time off from ‘Factotum’ as we currently know it.”
– Laura and Chris Bruns
Factotum’s legacy will remain a community-first brewery. As two former school teachers, the Bruns family emphasized not only fundraising for education-based causes, but also often gave away beer to educators including during the pandemic. Additionally, the brewery donated to over 75 local non-profit organizations over the years but also went beyond monetary giving. Part of Factotum’s business model was to allow community members to join as a guest brewer, providing opportunities to scale up homebrew recipes and gain experience on a commercial system. As a result, Factotum went on to help launch breweries across the state.
One such brewery that experience an extreme and slightly different case of this approach was Denver’s Lady Justice Brewing, who originally signed an agreement to operate an alternating proprietorship with Factotum so that they could share space and operate out of the existing brewery from 2018 to 2020. During that time, the three co-founders of Lady Justice shared time in the brewhouse and event shared draft lines to serve their beer. However, Lady Justice, now fully owned by co-founder Betsy Lay, was able to move into their own full brick-and-mortar location in Aurora in April 2020.
Factotum was known for brewing a wide range of styles, as most notably featured in their yearly Brewer’s Madness competition. The event featured 16 non-profits to brew their own beer with the Factotum team competing in a bracket-style showdown to determine the best of the collaborations. Best known for producing a historical style, Factotum’s Kentucky Common was one of the better representations of that style in the country. Be sure to swing by to experience the Kentucky Common and all of Factotum’s beers before they close on October 9.