NanoBrewing Big Dreams in Boulder – #DrinkTheStory

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Anyone that knows our love of beer and the community surrounding it knows that our true love is the quirky, off-the-beaten-path little breweries that you have to work hard simply to find them. That in a nutshell is Boulder, Colorado’s Kettle & Spoke Brewery, a self-proclaimed nano-brewery that really couldn’t be described any other way.

Bikes and Boards outside Kettle & Spoke Brewery
Bikes and Boards outside Kettle & Spoke Brewery

Like many other brewers before them, co-owners Paul Sink and Patrick Mulcahy brought years of homebrewing experience to their venture.

Unlike most, however, they didn’t dive six figures into the red upon opening. They instead, quite literally, opened their taproom in the corner of a space that already housed Green Guru, a company that creates outdoor gear from upcycled materials, and Front Range Cargo Bikes, a bicycle shop. Aside from their brewery being ensconced in tight quarters with businesses owned by longtime buddies, their next door neighbor is Boulder Creative Collective, a for-profit business that connects creative folks with the community. Now if that isn’t quintessential Boulder, I don’t know what is.

The Kettle & Spoke nano-brewhouse
The Kettle & Spoke nano-brewhouse

Brewhouse: go down the hall, take a left, take another left

The Kettle & Spoke brewhouse is down the hall and around a couple of corners in a space that is smaller than most walk-in closets. Paul and Patrick started on a one-barrel system (31 gallons), but have since upgraded to two barrels. For comparison’s sake, most microbreweries are brewing on at least seven-barrel systems, if not bigger.

“We’re just really several steps above homebrewing. If you had a ton of money, our brew system would be your homebrew system.”

– Patrick Mulcahy

They also reside along a bike trail and, due to limited space, encourage folks to ride their bikes to the brewery, even offering a discount for doing so. 

Kettle & Spoke is taking the bootstrap approach of starting small and growing into something that Paul and Patrick hope to eventually turn into a full-time gig for them both. They both currently hold day jobs. Paul is currently a carpenter and Patrick a geologist.

Patrick Mulcahy and Ken Pishna at Kettle & Spoke Brewery
Patrick Mulcahy and Ken Pishna at Kettle & Spoke Brewery

Kettle & Spoke adjusting to survive the times

Like everyone else in the service and hospitality industries, especially other breweries, they are getting hammered by the covid-19 pandemic that has spread across the globe. And I can tell you aside from the business aspects of it all, not being able to have a community space open in the taproom is driving Patrick nuts.

He and Paul take pride in the community they’ve fostered around Kettle & Spoke. And now, for the time being, that is being halted. We’re just hoping that it can resume on the other side of the current global crisis.

For now, Kettle & Spoke is operating like many other breweries across the country, with To Go options only. Since Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order that allows breweries to deliver during the current crisis, Kettle & Spoke offers pick-up and delivery options by placing orders via its website.

Patrick manning the Kettle & Spoke taproom
Patrick manning the Kettle & Spoke taproom

#DrinkTheStory and Vow to Return!

Like all of us, our beloved brewery friends, like Paul and Patrick, are struggling through this pandemic, trying to find a way to keep their dreams alive. Another good friend, Allo Gilinsky (aka the Craft Beer Concierge) spearheaded an effort to keep awareness focused on the craft breweries that we love and vowing to support them if possible with To-Go purchases during the crisis and a return to the breweries when it once again becomes possible.

We’re not in the Boulder area able to order, but April and I certainly are vowing to return to the Kettle & Spoke Brewery when the smoke clears because we are confident that Paul and Patrick will find a way to navigate this difficult patch and keep their dream alive.

Our Stout Conversation with Kettle & Spoke Brewery

Since #DrinkTheStory launched, many great stories and positive messages have come from it. Bloggers and beer friends have banded together in a Facebook group and we want to make sure to highlight stories that have emerged. Linked below are posts that we encourage you to read. There’s also a fantastic campaign going from an organization called Drink Local Think Global that has emerged as a craft brewery employee assistance relief campaign. Please consider donating to the DLTG campaign.

More #DrinkTheStory Articles:

Many wonderful things come from bringing beer and people together. There is also some great discussion on our Facebook group, which you can join here.

We urge you to #DrinkTheStory by sharing your own brewery stories and photos on social media, in the comments below, and on your own blog if you have one. Don’t forget to support as many local businesses as you can. We’re all in this together.

Ken & April


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