The floors are a polished concrete that shines dully from the metal-can lighting above. The tables are aligned in even rows with each chair tucked in a perpendicular, orderly fashion. The bright red t-shirts are crisply folded and ready for sale. Behind the bar, the glassware is neatly stacked row by row and the growlers stand at attention along the top shelf. Everything is in it’s place. Everything is perfect.
I’ll admit, I purposely do a limited amount of research and preparation before I stop by to do an interview. The intention is to absorb brewery as a raw, first-time experience, almost in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way. Little did I know, I had walked into one of the most polysemantic branded brewery concepts in Denver. Welcome to Comrade Brewing!
Chairman & Founder David Lin
Video: Loki Media
Located at 7667 E. Iliff Ave #F in Denver, CO, in a spaciously converted automotive building, complete with full-wall garage doors, (Chairman) Owner David Lin is running his brewery with medal winning precision and cleverly crafted wit. From the Koffee Kream Stout to their Wheat (hammer) and Hop (sickle) logo, the red shirts to their gun-metal colored growlers, every bit of this brewery has a small dash of the motherland and a little people’s republic sprinkled in. However, it’s all in good fun. According to Dave, the only thing they take seriously around here is the beer. And for the second time in as many years, Comrade has brought home a silver medal from Great American Beer Fest for their Superdamp aka Fresh Hop IPA. A wet-hopped version of their flagship brew, the Superpower IPA.
Comrade has many meanings, but loosely translated means a companion or long-time friend. And while the name is a clear tongue in cheek play on a communist theme, the true meaning pays homage to the camaraderie that is shared among the craft-brewing industry.
Dave has done a brilliant job balancing his witty concept around some truly great beer. I’m drinking the Putsch. By definition, it is a plotted revolt or attempt to overthrow a government. However, here it’s a delicious, 7.3% ABV Black IPA with a great citrus hop aroma and subtle presence of roasted malt.
As I sat and chatted with Dave, it became clear how he’d achieved his success since opening in 2014: he has a sharp business sense and recently finished his Master’s of Business in 2012. As a former brewery tech and homebrewer, Dave said he knew scaling to a full commercial setup wasn’t a task he alone was well suited for. He needed another professional and quickly called up his former colleague, friend and Master Brewer, Marks Lanham. With 14 medals awarded for beer brewing in the last 9 years, Marks was exactly what Dave needed to complete his vision. And it was a pleasure to taste his award winning beer.
Dave was kind enough to take me on a personal tour of his brewery and I was surprised to find all his equipment is 100% American made. Also, they all have names! I’m standing next to Captain Kirk as he tells me more about their brewing process. Comrade is a draft only brewery. They do this to maintain the freshest beer possible. Plus, kegging is more environmentally friendly as kegs last much longer than cans or bottles. To top is all off, Comrade sources the majority of it’s fresh hops locally, from High Wire Hop Farms in Paonia, CO. Fun fact, they supplied hops to the bronze and silver medal winners at the 2015 Great American Beer Fest this year.
After visiting, it’s clear to see why Comrade Brewing Company should be on your list of breweries to check out. All accolades aside, they are staying true to the Colorado beer scene by producing high quality beers through environmentally conscious brewing methods all while staying fresh with an intelligent concept.
If you haven’t been yet, take the time to make a trip east (but not too far east) and prepare to be impressed. I know I was.
Photos Courtesy of Brad Gustafson with Loki Media