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Phantom Canyon expands, KB becomes Smiling Toad 

Side Dish

Phantom's new footprint

Talk about a silver lining: When a water pipe was accidentally struck during the course of Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.'s (2 E. Pikes Peak Ave., phantomcanyon.com) expansion this winter — flooding the basement and adding two months to the project — the subsequent excavation to replace 65 feet of piping opened up an abundance of new storage space.

And that's important because, as brewer Alan Stiles told us here last October, Phantom has been pushed past capacity for quite some time. It was the reason for the expansion project itself, which is adding 1,200 square feet indoors and taking the brewery's capacity from 2,000 to 4,000 barrels, according to general manager Heather Robinson. It's also making possible a like-sized rooftop patio that seats 75.

The newly opened basement space, meanwhile, will allow for a larger barrel-aging program plus 25 more seats on the main floor (thanks to more brewery equipment moving down). Robinson expects Stiles to be brewing and using two new 30-barrel- and three 15-barrel-fermenters within the week, with the new patio opening to guests as soon as Monday, July 1; it will be nonsmoking until 9 p.m.

Another new addition to the building is a small bottler, which in tandem with a new cooler at the hostess stand, will allow for sales of small-batch bombers of Phantom's beer. (A Belgian dubbel and tripel are aging as you read this.) Also look for small menu changes around the third week of July.

Farmhouse frog

The former Kevin Baity Kraft Beers at 3668 E. Bijou St., recently morphed into Smiling Toad Brewery (418-2936) under new co-owners Biff and Patti Morehead and Mark Wiebe. The trio has purchased a new three-barrel brew system that, when it's operational in a month or so, will offer six times the capacity of KB's former half-barrel brewery inside the same 900 square feet.

Biff calls Baity, a friend of a few years, his brew mentor still, and a few popular Baity beers such as the Bella Lavender Lager remain available. Otherwise, the taps are now dominated by Biff and Wiebe's creations, which are primarily session beers (around the high 4s and low 5s for ABV).

"We have medium beers, not mediocre beers," quips Biff, quoting a motto on Toad's Facebook page. Look for usual suspects like IPA varieties, a wheat beer and Belgian farmhouse, as well as a Jumbe Porter with 10 percent of its sales going to protect wild rhinos. (The 61-year-old Biff was a concierge at our zoo for nearly a decade.)

Of he and Wiebe, 57, he says, "We're just two grumpy old men brewing beer ... this is the hardest fun I've ever had."

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