For Caren Teves, sanctuary is the inside of a reticent storefront on South Valentia Street in southeast Denver. It’s a place where the smell of yeast constantly dawdles in the air; where photos of friends line the walls; where a piece of her will always be.
“It’s a very welcoming place and a very comforting place for me,” Teves said of the diffident facade tucked within the hodgepodge strip of Denver businesses.
The locale is home to Copper Kettle Brewing Company, a watering hole that has become a refuge for Teves in the years since her son, Alex, was killed along with 11 others July 20, 2012, during a midnight screening in Aurora.
“I just can feel that his spirit and his memory are alive there,” Caren said.
Along with his girlfriend, Alex grew to become one of the first regulars of the Denver pub shortly after it opened in 2011. The young couple befriended Copper Kettle owners, wife and husband Kristen Kozik and Jeremy Gobien, by stopping in to enjoy laughter-filled pints when the company was still new and working to expand its customer base. Alex eventually became a member of the beer station’s “Brew Club,” an honor that earned him a personalized stein kept at the brewery and a picture of himself holding it hung on the wall. The photo still hangs today.
“(Kozik and Gobien) just never have forgotten him, they embrace his spirit and his memory, and it’s just so comforting for me to go there and to see that,” Caren said.
That sense of continued remembrance and hospitality will act as the bedrock for the annual A Night to Remember, a beer festival sponsored and organized by Copper Kettle. The festival is a celebration of the life of Alex and the dozens of other shooting victims.
All proceeds from the festival are donated to the Alexander C. Teves ACT Foundation, a nonprofit group Caren and her husband, Tom, helped establish in their son’s honor. The foundation commits all of its efforts and funding to providing scholarships for underprivileged children to attend Humanex Academy, an alternative school in Englewood where Alex was an intern.
Last year, funds raised allowed Kozik and Gobien to write a check to the ACT Foundation for $14,675 — a sum that went directly to Humanex. The school honored the couple in March, something Kozik said reaffirmed her dedication to The ACT Foundation and the festival.
“It really solidified why we are doing this,” she said. “We met students, heard some of their stories, and some remembered Alex and shared memories of him, which was really amazing.”
The festival team is aiming to raise even more money with an expanded silent auction, twice as many available tickets and lower overhead.
Caren said that through organizing the festival alongside Kozik and the Copper Kettle crew, her relationship with the brewery has evolved into one beyond friendship.
“They’re a family over there, they really are,” she said of the Copper Kettle. “And we’ve been blessed to be a part of it.”