By Angela Rose | Oct 12, 2019
Berthoud / Loveland, Colorado
Originally from Drexel, Missouri, a small town south of Kansas City with fewer than 1,000 residents, Sommers and his father, Mark, quickly developed a passion for Colorado's craft beer after relocating to the Berthoud area. When they had the opportunity to buy into Berthoud Brewing Company, it was an easy decision to make.
"Honestly, we just really like beer," Sommers laughs. "We also enjoy the brewery atmosphere and the people we get to meet through it. That was our driving force. When we had the opportunity to be part of one, we knew we might as well do it."
They bought Berthoud Brewing Company's founder out in 2015 and hired Kelly Lynch to fill the roll of head brewer, granting him an ownership stake in 2017. Then, they took an even bigger step -- opening a second location, this time in Loveland, earlier this year.
5030 Local, located in west Loveland on Highway 34, is a partnership with Peel Handcrafted Pizza and features a brewery, bar, and pizza kitchen on the main floor along with a larger restaurant above. "The building originally had blue carpet and beige walls everywhere," Sommers says. "It was a wedding hall. We've definitely done some renovation in there. The build out took less than one year, but it felt like a lot more."
The Berthoud Brewing Company team continues to operate the original Berthoud taproom and three-barrel system as a pilot brewhouse for research and development. They're doing the rest of their brewing on the new location's 30-barrel system from ABE, American Beer Equipment, out of Lincoln, Nebraska.
Sommers said Lynch made 28 different recipes in 2018 but is expanding on that "as much as possible" this year. In addition to six mainstays -- including Carter COlsh and 1888 Blonde Ale -- Berthoud Brewing Company produces numerous limited release beers. All use local grains from Troubadour Maltings out of Fort Collins.
"The light beers always sell well as far as quantity goes because they're beers people can easily drink more of than a big double IPA," Sommers says. "But our 5030' IPA and RailBender Scottish Ale have been our biggest sellers throughout the years hands down."
Favorite beers: Sommers says that Berthoud Brewing Company's Lowrider Lager is his standard go-to. "We also have a Belgian alt called Union Blanc that I really enjoy," he continues. "As far as anybody else's beer goes right now, if I ever see it in stores, I buy Bell's Official. That's just an awesome beer. I'd have one for breakfast right now if I had it in the house."
Challenges: Berthoud Brewing Company produced 300 barrels in 2018 and should hit 1,200 for 2019, with a production target of 3,000 barrels in 2020. Sommers says the growth is in itself a challenge. "I think that any time you're expanding at a rapid rate, you have to learn on your toes a little bit," he explains. "But it's less scary now than it was in the beginning."
Opportunities: Sommers says that distribution is now the brewery's biggest opportunity. While they were only able to keep up with taproom demand and offer the occasional keg to a handful of restaurants last year, they've recently expanded their distribution roster to about 50 restaurants. "We hope to further expand that number and go into cans here before too long," he adds.
Needs: "A canning line and a free graphic designer," Sommers says. "We're choosing between two canning line brands right now. We know we want to keep it local because we like to support local companies and it's just easier to work with them."