By Gregory Daurer | Jul 19, 2016
For a visitor seeking a beer, Sanitas Brewing is located within a seemingly inauspicious industrial park facing Pearl Parkway. However, around the back of an elongated "high-bay industrial building" hosting Sanitas and a few other businesses (an office furniture showroom, an outdoor recreation company, a design studio), guests are suddenly presented with Sanitas' light and airy taproom -- a zymurgical oasis -- flanked by a spacious deck (incorporating a McDevitt Taco Supply cart) sitting above a tree-lined greenbelt. There's a clear view of the Boulder landmark from which the brewery gets its name.
Memsic -- a graduate of CU with a degree in communications, a skier, a onetime brewer at Boulder Beer -- says that by adopting Mount Sanitas as the brewery's namesake, "We wanted something that symbolizes Boulder to people who are true to the community."
But the Latin word "sanitas" offers other definitions as well.
For one, it means "sanity." As a reflection of that, the brewery's IPA is a quenching, balanced beer. Memsic says that he and co-founder Chris Coyne, who handles the brewing operations, didn't want a "bitterness bomb." Crafted with several hop varieties, dominated by Topaz, Memsic says, "A lot of effort was put into this to be balanced, to be everyday drinkable."
Another definition of "sanitas" is "soundness of body." And although some might deem black IPAs to already be a dying fad, the Sanitas Black IPA proves the style's alive and well. Memsic describes the creamy opaque pour -- with a hint of roastiness in the nose -- as, "sweet, easy to drink, crisp. A nice hop afternote, melon notes, a floral perspective . . . not heavy on the bitterness . . . I think this is a phenomenal beer. I love this beer."
And "sanitas" also means "correctness of style." Asked if Sanitas' beers are true to style or innovative, Memsic replies, "Both." While he calls the Sanitas Saison "more of a French-inspired saison," Memsic categorizes the Sanitas Cherry Saison, made with organic cherry puree from Michigan, as "not built on tradition in any sense."
In addition to the taproom opening onto the deck, the space also opens, prominently behind glass, into the brewhouse. (The brewery's loading dock faces the front of the building.) Memsic says, "Transparency is a really important component to us: about the way we run the company to our employees and to the world. We don't want a lot of secrets." Memsic points out how Sanitas uses organic malts in its beers.
In 2015, the brewery produced 2,100 barrels of beer, "a little over 100 percent growth over a year." In 2016, Memsic expects that number to rise between 3,000 to 3,500 barrels. Its canned beer (bearing an image of the founders' totem animal, a black owl) sells well in Denver and Boulder, with distribution reaching up to Fort Collins and, soon, down to Castle Rock.
While Sanitas' taproom offers opportunities for Boulderites to unwind, that's also the way the brewers want their yeast to feel in the brewhouse: relaxed within an enriching environment. Memsic says, "A beer that was fermented the way that yeast wants to reproduce and wants to function, to me, is always going to end up cleaner than a beer that's been stressed."
Between sips of a clean beer -- as lilting, pedal-steel harmonies pour out of the speaker system -- Memsic adds, "And it's so easy to stress yeast."
Challenges: Competing in a market being flooded with beer: "It's a very competitive environment, right now. There's not endless shelf space. I believe it's a challenge for everyone. "
Opportunities: Growing the business through its roots in the community, in addition to expanding distribution, says Memsic. "I feel very fortunate that I get to participate in many of the [events] that I do, and how we've had the opportunity to become part of the Boulder and the Front Range community. I think that's a privilege, not a right, and we've been granted that. And that's been one of the coolest things over the last three years."
Needs: Keeping Sanitas staffed with people who are passionate about beer. "We need taproom people,"" says Memsic. "We need great sales people. Right now, we're looking to make some moves in our marketing department. And then, people getting added to the production side. That ebbs and flows. I don't know why, but we're either looking for three or we're looking for none. [We need] a constant pool of really qualified, really talented people, who are super-passionate about craft beer and are really excited to be here."