Colorado’s most decorated brewery at the 2023 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) recently celebrated another significant milestone. Fresh off of earning a bronze, silver, and gold medal at this year’s GABF competition, Westbound & Down Brewing Co. (W&D) announced that it has acquired Aspen Brewing Co. and Capitol Creek Brewery from High Country Brewing LLC.
This complete acquisition of two Roaring Fork Valley brewing staples includes Aspen Brewing’s 7,000-bbl capacity production facility located at 404 Aspen Airport Business Center and its Aspen Tap brewpub location in downtown Aspen, along with Capitol Creek Brewery’s brewpub located in Basalt’s Willits Town Center.
“Aspen Brewing’s location and long-standing, dedicated fan base and Capitol Creek’s fresh look and dedication to high-quality food and beer were both attractive out of the gate,” said Jake Gardner, director of brewery operations and operating partner for Westbound & Down Brewing. “In getting to know key personnel on the brew staff at Capitol Creek, as well as amazing leadership in the food and hospitality program there, we immediately felt like it would be a natural fit for what we’ve been building at Westbound & Down.”
The addition of Aspen Brewing and Capitol Creek Brewery builds on Westbound & Down’s continued investment in brewpubs that further help to enhance the outdoor adventure experiences in and around mountain towns.
“We have had a goal for some time to open more brewpub locations and have always kept an ear to the ground for locations that might make sense,” said Gardner. “Although we were originally looking into opening completely new projects in unoccupied spaces, this serendipitous opportunity was brought to us and continues to align with our dream of operating Colorado brewpubs that serve as gateways to the outdoors and the mountains.”
Squarely focused on continuing to provide the highest level of hospitality and service at each of Westbound’s three pre-existing locations, including its Idaho Springs brewpub, its pizzeria and brewpub in Lafayette and its satellite taproom in downtown Denver’s The Dairy Block, while also adding two Aspen Brewing locations and Capitol Creek Brewery’s brewpub, Westbound & Down has hired Matt Husted, former director of hospitality and partner at Id Est. Chef Casey Taylor, who oversees the culinary program for Westbound’s two existing brewpub locations, will also oversee the culinary programs at Aspen Tap and Capitol Creek Brewery.
Synergies between the newly acquired brands will begin with a sampling of Westbound & Down’s beer program through a limited number of curated guest taps at Aspen Tap, along with a handful of signature menu items from the W&D menu. In the meantime, the Westbound team will continue to assess capabilities at Aspen’s production facility with hopes to eventually add W&D draft beers to the production lineup, while continuing to tweak and improve recipes from the Aspen Brewing portfolio.
“There is no doubt this power duo of Aspen Brewing and Capitol Creek has established a strong beer culture both in attracting tourists and in serving as a gathering place for locals,” said Gardner. “Brewing is a resource-heavy industry where the ability to scale contracts, equipment and personnel is critically important. Westbound hopes to contribute and truly become part of the Roaring Fork Valley community by sharing our dedication to quality above all else, while also doubling down on our focus on outdoor enthusiasm and protecting Colorado’s amazing backyard.”
That dedication to quality has garnered industry-wide acclaim in recent years. In addition to earning a bronze medal for The Coloradan Mexican Lager in the American Cream Ale category, a silver medal for Spirit of the West in the New Zealand IPA category, and a gold medal for Westbound Select in the West Coast-Style IPA category at the 2023 Great American Beer Festival, Westbound has also taken home a silver medal at the 2023 World Beer Cup, two silver medals at the 2022 Great American Beer Festival, a pair of silver medals at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival, as well as to top honors as Midsize Brewpub of the Year at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival among a litany of recent accolades.