Vine Street Pub hopes to brew beer on site

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Vine Street Pub's Paul Nashak plans to raise a toast to Denver tonight if the city council approves his request for a zoning variance that would allow the brewery to make beer on-site.

A part of the Boulder-based Mountain Sun string of pubs, Vine Street has been open in Denver at 1700 Vine Street since May 2008 -- and has been trying to get brewery approval for just about as long. Nashak says his first attempt to get a zoning change failed because of neighbor concerns, but that this one should work.

If Denver City Council signs off, the request will go to Mayor - and brewer-in-chief -- John Hickenlooper for final approval. But Vine Street's political pull may go even higher than that. "Governor Ritter has been coming in with friends who knew about us," Nashak notes. In fact, Ritter's s twice given a toast at Vine Street before enjoying his own beer there.

So a zoning change should make Ritter happy -- especially since it will allow the Mountain Sun company to brew 3,500 barrels a year there to start out, and as much as 5,000 to 6,000 eventually. "Our desire is to make it our flagship brewery," Nashak says, with a tasting room and events.

If that happens, Vine Street would be responsible for the eight varieties of beer that make up 75 percent of Mountain Sun's sales. Then Southern Sun, 1535 Pearl Street in Boulder, could do many of the 45-plus small-batch beers that the company brews in a year, while the original Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, 1535 Pearl Street in Boulder, could focus on making experimental beers. Right now, those two locations are struggling to keep up with demand.

If Hickenlooper approves the zoning change, Nashak says it will take about a year to get the new brewing facility at Vine Street up and running. By that time, Vine Street, which currently opens at 4 p.m. every day, may also have begun opening for lunch on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

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