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A Brewer, A Blogger and A Beer at Dry Dock Brewing. Part 2 – The Future.

A brewer, a blogger and a bottle of 6-year old Dry Dock Framboise.  Where could this be headed? Well, when the brewer is Kevin DeLange, founder and owner of Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, CO, good things are bound to happen.  Join us as we talk brews, brewers and breweries and share some tasty brews along the way. (That’s a lot of brew talk and that’s how I like it!)  In Part 1, we discussed Dry Dock’s Past and Present, going all the way back to their opening in 2005 and working up to the release of Bligh’s Barleywine later this year.  In Part 2, we’ll discuss the Future of Dry Dock Brewing into 2013 and beyond.  Grab a beer, err brew and join us!

Going Big, Staying Local.

Looking back over the past 7 years, a move, multiple expansions and two brew systems later, Dry Dock Brewing has reached capacity at their current location at the intersection of Hampden and Chambers in Aurora, CO.  Head Brewer Doug Hyndman and his team of brewers are currently working around the clock just to keep the tap lines flowing in the Tasting Room.  Owners Kevin and Michelle DeLange knew something had to be done if they were going to meet the ever-growing demand for their beer.

Rather than pick up the brewery and move, they made the decision to add a Production Facility to supplement their current 7 BBL operation in the Tasting Room.  Kevin DeLange said they wanted to keep the brewery local, so this past Summer, they purchased a 30,000 square foot location near I-70 and Tower Road to call home for the new Production Facility.

The additional location will be equipped with a larger brew system and a more efficient bottling line to expand their current lineup of 22oz. bombers.  The 40 BBL (1 BBL = 31 gallons) brewhouse, scheduled for delivery during the week of Thanksgiving, will greatly reduce the pressure currently being put on their 7 BBL system in the Tasting Room.

Doug checking out his new toy before it gets shipped to the brewery.

To put things into perspective, Dry Dock brewed roughly 200 BBL’s during their first year of business in 2005.  In 2012, they’re projected to brew 3,200 BBL’s, which will push their current system to the limits and still not meet consumer demand.  With the addition of their 40 BBL brew system, they plan to produce nearly 15,000 BBL’s in 2013.  The brand new brewhouse will allow Dry Dock to brew a 40 BBL batch (1,240 gallons) every 4 hours, while giving them the potential to pump out more than 100,000 BBL’s of beer a year!  They’re hoping to begin brewing on the new system by the end of 2012.

In addition to the new brewhouse, the Production Facility will also feature a canning line that will initially introduce 4 offerings into the Colorado market beginning in early 2013.  Consumers should keep an eye out for 6-packs, plus a mixed 12-pack of Hefeweizen, Hop Abomination, Apricot Blonde and Amber in January 2013.  The “Booty Box” will offer 3 cans of each of the 4 different beers.  The cans will be dated so beer lovers will know they’re getting the freshest beer money can buy.

Roll Out The Barrels!

For the funky, sour beer fans, a 63 BBL Oak Foeder has been acquired from a California Winery, with the specific goal of producing sour and wild beers.  And YES, they have plans to eventually bottle their sours!  WooHoo!  DeLange crunched some numbers and projects that a full batch in the foeder will produce “somewhere around 900 cases of 750 mL bottles”.  Keep in mind, it’s still a long ways away, largely due to the lengthy process and unpredictability of working with wild yeasts, but it IS coming!

While the 40 BBL Production Facility will focus on canning, bottling and kegging their Flagship Beers (Hefeweizen, Double IPA, Vanilla Porter, etc…), the 7 BBL system at the south-Aurora Tasting Room will be utilized for experiments for Tasting Room visitors.  Head Brewer Doug Hyndman and his team of brewers will have the chance to come up with new recipes, including small batch one-offs, lagers, stouts and sours and allow them the opportunity to get creative and try new things.  The 7 BBL system will offer the team a chance to experiment and deviate a bit from Dry Dock’s Flagship lineup.

Some of the beers brewed on the 7 BBL system will be used to expand the Dry Dock Barrel-Aging Program.  The current program consists of more than 50 barrels from a variety of wineries and distilleries.  Some of Dry Dock’s most popular beers such as Bligh’s Barleywine, Shotgun Russian Imperial Stout and The Ambassador Sour, spent time aging and absorbing the characteristics found in the different barrels. The Barrel-Aged brews can spend months and sometimes even years inside the barrels until they are ready to be kegged, bottled or blended together for the final product.

DeLange will have the luxury of moving extra brewing ingredients and tasting room supplies out of the Tasting Room and up to the Production Facility.  By doing so, he’ll free up quite a bit more room in the Tasting Room, which will ultimately allow Dry Dock to grow the barrel room and create even more unique beers in the process.

Collaborations with other breweries is an option DeLange may decide to explore in the near future. He said there’s been “some talk with Troy (Casey) over at AC Golden”.  Despite being owned by MillerCoors, Casey and his Hidden Barrel Project at AC Golden are steadily gaining recognition and respect from craft beer enthusiasts for their complex, barrel-aged sour ales and stouts.  Casey’s first round of bottled sours, was released earlier this year and sold out within minutes.  Just last month at the Great American Beer Festival, AC Golden hauled in a medal for their Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout.  While Dry Dock’s focus is clearly on getting their new location up and running, the possibilities certainly seem endless for DeLange and his Dry Dock Team.

A Beer Garden and New Tasting Room in 2014.

Right about now, you’re probably asking yourself “Yeah, but when can I stop by the Production Facility for a beer???”  The north-Aurora Production Facility rests on a 6-acre plot that will be transformed into a Beer Garden sometime in 2014.  The current plans for the project include a dog park, horseshoe pits and even a pond.  The proposed tasting room, also slated to open in 2014, will overlook the brewhouse and production floor, giving beer drinkers a chance to sit back and watch the magic happen while sipping on their favorite pint.  Once the Beer Garden and Tap Room are completed, Delange plans to work with the Colorado Brewers Guild to host and bring a beer festival to Aurora.

When I asked DeLange about his fondest Dry Dock memory, he shared a story about his first trip to the World Beer Cup (WBC) in 2006.  At the time, Dry Dock had only been open for a few months and he decided to enter just two beers for judging in the International Competition.  He assumed that his start-up brewery didn’t stand much of a chance at winning an award at the prestigious competition. So, rather than attend the Brewers Dinner and Awards Ceremony, he decided to sample beers in the lobby and watch the ceremony from a TV outside.  When he heard his H.M.S. Victory ESB announced as a Gold Medal Winner, his initial reaction was “Who stole our name?”.

Within his first year of opening Dry Dock, DeLange had landed a medal at what is essentially the “Super Bowl” of brewery competition and beer judging.  He’d accomplished a feat that some brewers spend a lifetime trying to achieve.  This was just the beginning of what has since become a long list of medals awarded to the brewery and their beers.

In under a decade DeLange has taken Dry Dock from a tiny nano-brewery located behind a homebrew shop and transformed it into one of the nation’s top breweries.  There are great things happening every day at Dry Dock and looking into the future, they show no signs of slowing down. Stop by the Tasting Room this weekend for their Anniversary Party and help them celebrate 7 Years of Great Beers!

Cheers!

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