AURORA | Just a few years ago, Dry Dock Brewing squeezed its brewery, tasting room and office into a tiny 800-square-foot storefront.
That was 30,000 square feet ago.
Their new massive brewery and canning facility near Interstate 70 and Tower Road is a far cry from that humble start.
“This is a little bigger,” co-owner Kevin DeLange said with a grin as he showed off his new digs last week.
Dry Dock’s new line of cans hit the shelves of area liquor stores last week, and this week the Aurora brewery is set to show off their new space to assorted big wigs.
The new location near I-70 and Tower is evidence of Dry Dock’s meteoric growth in recent years — from that tiny facility, to its comfy tasting room near South Chambers Road and East Hampden Avenue, to this sprawling brewery and canning facility.
DeLange and his wife, Michelle, founded the company in 2005 in that small space next to their home-brewing supply store, The Brew Hut.
The timing was ideal because around the time Dry Dock launched, a wave of craft-beer enthusiasm swept over the beer-drinking scene. A few prestigious brewing awards and oodles of praise from the craft community later, the company’s brews can be found in bars and liquor stores across Colorado.
At Chamber’s Wine and Liquor, owner Lee Earnhart said that while craft beers have generally grown in popularity in recent years, customers at his store at East Iliff Avenue and Chambers are particularly fond of Dry Dock because it is “Aurora’s brewery.”
“They helped create a lot of buzz for it, that’s for sure,” Earnhart said as his staff unveiled the first shipment of Dry Dock cans last week. “They put us on the map.”
The first shipment to Chambers didn’t last long. The Dry Dock display near the front of the store went up Thursday afternoon, and by Saturday morning they were gone.
That’s been an ongoing, if welcome, concern for Dry Dock — their loyal fans slurp the beer faster than they can brew it. The DeLanges jokingly referred to it as the “Great Beer Shortage of 2012,” and it seems to have continued into the early part of 2013.
Hopefully, the new facility will mean the end of that shortage, though.
The new space can pump out about 80 kegs a day, and 35 to 40 cans a minute.
And while that’s a lot of brewing capacity, it has hardly maxed out the new space’s potential. The brewing operation is largely tucked into one corner of the massive building, and the floor space is fairly open. It’s so big, in fact, that Dry Dock staff have taken to riding skateboards and scooters from one end of the building to the other.
Michelle DeLange said having the extra space is nice.
“This is just a blank canvas, and it allows us to grow and expand,” she said.
And they have a total of 5.7 acres, much of it undeveloped, that they can use for even further expansion down the road.
At some point, the DeLanges said they’d like to have a tasting room and bar at the new spot and maybe offer tours to their loyal fans.
“We’ve got land to use, and it would be nice to do something like that,” she said.
The new facility won’t replace the tasting room at the south end of town, which is still humming along. Kevin DeLange said that facility will be used to brew some more unique, experimental beers.
“That will be our funhouse, our playhouse,” he said. “We can experiment and do lots of different things. All the brewers will be able to stretch their creative muscles”