Edwards, Colo.-based Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. announced its expansion in both capacity and infrastructure by opening its second facility in Denver. This summer, Breckenridge Brewery turned over its Denver home of nearly 20 years to Crazy Mountain Brewing. The history leading up to this summer’s exchange is unique and the transaction is the ultimate example of the industry’s camaraderie. Crazy Mountain moved into a fully operational brewery complete with fermentation and packaging capabilities.
“On August 1, Breckenridge Brewery handed over the keys to the facility and Crazy Mountain started brewing just a few hours later, immediately increasing our production capabilities eight-fold overnight,” said Kevin Selvy, CEO of Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. “This is the first time in the craft beer industry that a brewing facility of this size and scope was handed from one brewery to the next as a complete, turn-key operation. This opportunity allows us to skip over decades of incremental and extremely challenging growth.”
The exchange between Breckenridge and Crazy Mountain boiled down to friendship, bilateral respect and symbiosis. Crazy Mountain was ready to take its brewery to the next level by stepping up its national and international distribution and broadening its portfolio. Meanwhile, Breckenridge had plans for building a new state-of-the-art brewery and needed the right buyer to move into its current facility. What makes this story so unusual is that even with mutual motive there were uphill battles that competing craftsman had to overcome by sticking together and helping each other out.
While vacationing in 2011 with his family in the Colorado Mountains, Todd Usry, Breckenridge Brewery’s Director of Brewing, stopped by the Vail Valley’s first production brewery, Crazy Mountain. Selvy was in the midst of his first expansion and Usry could empathize having seen Breckenridge through multiple expansions and moves to accommodate for growth. At the time, Usry was just beginning to plan Breckenridge’s next move. On the verge of maxing out its capacity at Breckenridge’s Denver facility Usry had a vision for the future. He needed to build a new factory that would give them growing room while creating a place that people would want to visit, experience the craft and connect with its culture. The seed of an idea was planted between Selvy and Usry, but it would take some time to sprout.
In May of 2012 at the annual Craft Brewers Conference, Selvy had completed Crazy Mountain’s first expansion and had his own visions for brand development. Usry had identified a 12-acre parcel of land in Littleton, Colo., that would be perfect for the new site. It was at the conference that the two agreed to work together… not just that, they vowed to make it happen.
“I’ve always respected Kevin’s entrepreneurial skills and his beers,” Usry said. “He’s a laid-back hard worker and to me that qualified him as a great fit for our former home.”
Usry ultimately made public his intent to sell the property and received offers; however, they were all contingent upon Crazy Mountain’s ability to find financing.
Breckenridge Brewery and Crazy Mountain followed the same path just two decades apart. Each was a Colorado mountain-born brewery with the confidence in its brand to tackle strategic, explosive growth and make major moves to Denver. When each brewery moved into the Kalamath Street location, current production was under 15,000 barrels (bbls)/ year. While Breckenridge spent the course of 20 years organically growing into 65,000 bbls/ year, Crazy Mountain walked into a facility that could brew 65,000 bbls today. As a result of the move, Crazy Mountain will have the ability to increase their revenue by 800 percent and will see capacity grow from 15,000 up to 90,000 bbls per year between its two production facilities.
“For a brewery as young and small as we were to take such a monumental leap required an incredible amount of dedication, sacrifice and hard work from our entire team,” Selvy said. “Had Breckenridge not stuck in our corner as we navigated an expansion that in the beginning seemed an impossibility, we would have never been able to achieve something like this. In the craft beer space this expansion truly is historic in both the enormous opportunities it creates for such a young company, along with the fact that in most industries what would be considered a competitor was really the one who made this incredible opportunity a possibility for us.”