In a town where the word "trinity" is often reserved for churches, the synchronistic timing surrounding a trio of upstart craft breweries produces another interpretation.
That's just the beginning of things that come in threes.
According to the Brewers Association, Colorado ranks No. 1 in the nation for beer production, No. 2 for most craft breweries and No. 3 for craft beer output. Add this to the fact that one of the new breweries bears the name Trinity representing the union of "slow food, conscious people and artisanal beer" and, well ... you see where one might get hypnotized by threes.
Thank the Holy Trinity that the pattern breaks when counting the five existing Colorado Springs breweries that the newbies will join Arctic Craft Brewery, Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., Bristol Brewing Co., Rock Bottom Brewery and Judge Baldwin's Brewing Co.
Which begs the question: How will the new three be different?
Trinity Brewing Co., set to open by August's end on Garden of the Gods Road just west of Centennial Boulevard, is the collaboration of former Bristol brewmaster Jason Yester and former Kinfolks Mountain Shop owner Todd Walton. The two are looking to break the mold of traditional breweries.
Besides offering six of his own brews on tap, Yester will serve around 25 other local and imported beers. Yester says his relationship with other brewers will allow him to bring a unique variety of beers to Colorado Springs.
"We like to drink other people's beers, too," Yester says. "There's a lot of good brewers out there and a lot of camaraderie in the brewing world."
Part of Trinity's appeal will be its divergence from common "cookie cutter" brew pubs, Yester says. He says he won't serve beer in any pint glasses; instead he'll use glasses that emphasize presentation and enhance the beer's flavor.
For example: "A brandy snifter for a barley wine. When you swirl it, it'll focus all the aromas," Yester says. "You'll experience a beer in a different way because of it. The attention to detail on the beer is gonna be something the Springs hasn't seen before."
Trinity also will serve a variety of freshly prepared food with an emphasis on local organics. The prospective menu includes sauces and soups made with Yester's beers, and beer tours paired with seasonal dishes, as the brewery implements ideas of the Slow Food movement. Started in Italy in 1989 to combat the fast-food frenzy, the international organization emphasizes using local ingredients and educating people about the food they are consuming. Slow Food asserts that food should taste good, be produced in a clean way that doesn't harm the environment or animals, and that food producers should be compensated fairly.
"You're not just eating because your tummy feels like it needs some food," says Walton, who will head the brewery's food operation. "You're eating to know where the food came from and what it tastes like and what it goes best with."
With that in mind, the two say they'll do a lot of table-touching, and Walton aims to use as many ingredients as he can from Colorado. The whole point, he says, will be to emphasize a local, organic aspect or what he calls being a "localvore," without sacrificing taste.
"We're trying to offer, when possible, a flavorful dish ... that's vegetarian-friendly but a carnivore can enjoy it as well," Walton says.
Yester and Walton are aiming to be eco-conscious as well, which includes everything from serving drinks in corn-compostable cups to using less HVAC. Portions of the bar are being built with salvaged wood, and all kitchen and brewery equipment is used. Instead of a happy hour, Trinity will reward "human-powered arrival" (biking or walking) with a discount, any time.
"We're emphasizing a triple bottom line," says Walton. "People, planet, profit in that order."
(Hmmm ... did he say "triple"?)
Tap at the Rockies
Across town near Powers Boulevard and Platte Avenue, the newly opened Rocky Mountain Brewery looks more like a garage-turned-bar than a brewing operation.
In what RMB calls its "tasting room," one long conference table sits in a corner and a few bar tables litter the outside patio next to a grill set up for customer use. Rather than serving food, RMB encourages people to order their own food from nearby restaurants and have it delivered, or bring it with them and cook it on site, says head brewer Nick Hilborn.
At 22, Hilborn claims to be the youngest head brewer in the country. He, owner Duane Lujan and brewery partner James Pratt plan to include a few novelties of their own. A distinctive smoked hefeweisen is already available on tap with red and green chile beers to follow soon. Currently, RMB has the capacity to brew only a few beers at a time; something Hilborn says works to the brewery's advantage.
"It seems to me that a lot of the other breweries I see are less able to experiment," he says. "We [can] do a 2.5 gallon batch of something if we really want ... so we're going to have a lot more weird stuff ... we're going to be doing a lot more experimental things than everybody else."
RMB emphasizes educating their customers on the actual brewing aspect of beer. It offers brew-your-own wine and beer classes, and the My Home Brew Shop next door (also owned by Lujan) provides everything a do-it-yourselfer needs.
Because RMB moved into the building previously occupied by Blick's Brewing Co., Hilborn says the brewery has all the equipment in place for a canning operation and hopes to start that within the next year.
With a little help from my friends
The third brewery's plans have been secret up to now, with particular speculation on the whos and whens. But Warehouse owner Chip Johnson is finally ready to spill the haps on his hops.
Citing a long-time relationship with Mike Bristol, Johnson says he wants to collaborate Bristol's knowledge with the Warehouse's equipment to produce something "really fun."
The timeline for the operation remains sketchy. Johnson says he has all licenses in place, but he's waiting on federal tax approval.
"If we don't have it going by the end of the year, I'm going to tear everything out and give up," he says, joking.
The joint venture would allow the Warehouse to brew and serve Johnson's recipes under the tutelage of Bristol brewmasters, giving Bristol Brewing more capacity to brew their beers, especially seasonal ones.
Ideally, Johnson says the Warehouse would eventually take over the operation, leaving open the option for contract brewing.
"It's really a triple-win situation," says Johnson.
("Triple" ... you don't say. )