Since leaving Woodland Park, Paradox has made Divide into a brewery destination.
Paradox Beer Company is nearing ever closer to opening their taproom. They moved into their 100% wind powered location in Divide, Colorado just this past summer, and have been hard at work converting the premises to fit their needs.
Why has it taken so long? Well, aside from occupancy permits and county licenses, the guys up in Divide have been meticulously turning an old ice-factory into a unique brewery experience.
Barrels have long been the medium for Paradox, but as production has increased, so has their need for more space to age their beer. Along the back wall sit stainless tanks, mainly for fruit additions, but also to help with bottling. Alongside the steel, puncheons are stacked pyramid style.
The rest of their space is lined with barrels, malt and more barrels, although foeders are on the way, which will allow for them to slim down their barrel inventory.
Ok, but why has it taken so long? A look to their social media will show at least half of questions posed asking about the opening date, yet Paradox is still a ways off. The real reason, I suppose, is that they’re focusing on what they do best: brewing great beer.
Their bar is a historical blast from the past. Rescued in its entirely from its original home up in Leadville, it finds new life at Paradox. The original bar top and mirrored backsplash are in place, complete with a massive expanse of glass. At night, it will feel like a nice old saloon, with darkness just beyond the window panes, but in the summer, with the garage doors open, we know Paradox will be a happening spot.
We toured the facility in September of last year, and it was dark and cold, much like you’d expect a former ice factory to be, but Paradox has installed two glass-filled garage doors on the south wall of the tasting room, providing more-than-ample light. On a snowy January day, we needed sunglasses inside —it’s that bright.
Paradox’s distribution footprint has exploded in the United States, and they’re already pressed for space in their new facility. They’ve installed a bottling line, which will help on the packaging end, but space will always be at a premium. Shipments are now not just being dispersed around Colorado. Paradox has expanded to California, Illinois, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and just recently Pennsylvania. It’s a wonder they have any beer left.
On a recent Saturday, we caught Jeff Aragon running the last cleaning cycle on their brewhouse, a leftover step from the night before when “visitors” kept him from completely finishing. The problem with not being open is that people still know where to find them.
Meanwhile, Mike Scarbalis is showing some media folks around while Jeff Airman is going tank to tank, barrel to barrel, always tasting, always cleaning.
“To professionally make beer like this, we clean and clean and clean. You’d be surprised how one microbe [out of place] can change everything. We have to be meticulous in what we allow and what we try to keep out.”
The media group brought up some old swing top bottles to share, in hopes the seals hadn’t completely leaked. Half are a bit oxidized, yet half are salvageable. The change in flavor is the most interesting, with some of the hoppy beers seeing little to no change, contrary to how one would expect a non-sour IPA would handle months of bottling. Something to do with acidity we suspect…
Cue the talk of their new bottles, similar to their current “Wicked Weed” shape, but with custom molds. Skully 36 comes out, Paradox’s Coconut Lime sour. It’s possibly one of their best beers to date, but we find ourselves feeling like a broken record with every Skully release.
Towering stacks of pallets filled with bottles are stored in every corner of the brewery waiting to be filled, and eight states awaiting shipments, it’s a good time for Paradox. This is a Saturday, but the mood is relaxed.
So when will their taproom finally open its doors to the awaiting public. Jeff tells us they have some inspections left, but are still waiting on the Teller County to approve the bar. While bureacracy is annoying for the fans waiting to belly up to their bar, production continues at a breakneck pace. You’ll hear it here first when they actually do open, as we are as excited as the next fan.