Great Divide Brewing pulls out of massive RiNo taproom, warehouse

Easily the largest Denver brewery or bar closure to be announced so far during the pandemic: Great Divide is pulling out of its 65,000-square-foot RiNo facility, but likely not until 2022.

The behemoth building and corner lot at 35th Street and Brighton Boulevard is going up for sale, according to the brewery, which has been operating there since 2015.

When it sells, Great Divide will leave behind a sprawling beer bar and packaging hall, complete with canning and kegging lines, bright tanks, barrel-aging rooms and cold storage. Beer is not brewed on-site; it continues to be produced at Great Divide’s original Arapahoe Street location in Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood. Great Divide’s RiNo property will remain open and operational until the sale.

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“Right now, we have two facilities that are not being maximized,” said Brian Dunn, Great Divide’s founder and president. “We had three options on the table: move all operations to RiNo; move everything to a new location outside of Denver; or relocate to our original location. In the end, returning to our roots made the most business sense. This will allow us to reinvest in our facility and our people, our two most important assets.”

The consolidation also will allow the 27-year-old craft brewer to “remain fiercely independent,” Dunn said. There will be no layoffs as a result of the RiNo closure, and Great Divide outposts in Castle Rock and at Denver International Airport will remain unaffected.

The move back to Ballpark could allow for growth, too, according to Dunn. In 2020, Great Divide brewed 24,500 barrels of beer, while the Ballpark brewhouse can accommodate up to 60,000 barrels. Of course, when and whether independent craft brewers like Great Divide rebound from the pandemic remains to be seen.

“We’ve been brewing beer in the Ballpark neighborhood since 1994, and this move ensures the longevity and prosperity of our brewery,” marketing manager Matt Sandy said. “Our roots are urban and gritty, and the Ballpark neighborhood brewery and tap room reflect that. We’re excited to have everything under one roof again, and look forward to continuing to produce the high-quality, bold beer we’ve become known for over the last 27 years.”

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