Exclusive: Ian Clark, chef of Jax Boulder, is leaving to open BRU Handbuilt Ales and Eats
After a decade with Big Red F, Dave Query's burgeoning restaurant group, which includes Lola, three outposts of Jax Fish House (a fourth will open this spring in Glendale), Centro Latin Kitchen, West End Tavern, Zolo Grill and the Bitter Bar, chef and brewmaster Ian Clark, currently the chef at Jax Boulder, is departing that kitchen to open his own restaurant and alehouse at 5290 Arapahoe Street, in the former Rock and Soul Cafe, also in Boulder.
The 2,700-square-foot space, called BRU Handbuilt Ales and Eats, is slated to unlock its doors in mid-April, and construction is scheduled to begin within the next few weeks.
- Centro Latin Kitchen chef Ian Clark brews up Bru, a tiny beer-making operation in Boulder
- Jax in LoDo reopens with a new look...and a new menu
- A fourth Jax Fish House will open in Glendale next spring
"I've been with Big Red F for ten years, and I've certainly learned a lot -- there's no way I could be doing this without the level of knowledge that I've learned from being a part of this group -- but I'm ready to start doing my own thing," says Clark, who has spent the majority of his career commanding the burners at Centro, Query's Latin-influenced restaurant on the Pearl Street Mall, the kitchen of which is now overseen by Enrique Socarras, the former chef/co-owner of Cuba Cuba.
And for Clark, cooking and brewing go hand-and-hand. Just last year, he launched BRU, a commercial nanobrewery operation that he started in his home garage. But Clark has been brewing beers since 2003, a passion that started in high school, when he and his friends would sneak off to the apple orchards in Maine, where Clark grew up, and ferment their own cider. A few years later, he bought a home brewing kit for his father-in-law, but Clark was the one who benefited from the purchase. "He didn't want it, so he gave it to me, and I started making my own batches of beer, and I've pretty much been brewing nonstop ever since then," he says.
And he'll continue to do so at his restaurant and brewery, moving his garage operation to a much, much larger space that will give him the opportunity to initially brew -- and pour -- a dozen beers, all of which will be his own. "We'll start with twelve tap handles and have varying styles," including, he reveals, a brown ale, a few IPA's, Belgian strong ales, a pale ale, a wheat heavy and a first anniversary Belgian quad.
All of his beers, like his food, will be what Clark calls "hand-built" -- and that, he says, will extend to the 42-seat space. "Everything -- our cheeses, our breads, our sodas, our charcuterie, the beers and the furniture and bar will be built by us," with the exception, he notes, of the 2,200-pound, domed wood-fired oven (that's from Forno Bravo), from which the majority of the dishes on his menu will emerge.