By Angela Rose | Jul 17, 2016
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Like many breweries, Storm Peak Brewing Company got its start in a garage. "My brother Tyler and I spent a lot of time homebrewing and learning about the process," says Patterson. "We discovered we had a passion for it and decided to make a go of it as a business. With Colorado being the state of craft beer, it just made sense for us."
With their father and younger brother as partners, the Pattersons chose Steamboat Springs, their favorite family vacation destination, as home base. "We grew up on the Front Range, but we'd go to Steamboat at least once if not twice a year," Patterson recalls. "We spent a little time looking for brewery space in Denver as well, but decided it was too crowded. We wanted a place where we could stand out and make a name for ourselves."
And that's exactly what they've done.
Operating in 2,050 square feet with a seven-barrel brewhouse and 65-person capacity taproom, the Pattersons increased production from 300 barrels in 2014 to 650 in 2015. They're currently on track to do 900 this year. "There is an ever-increasing demand for our product, which is great," Patterson says. "Honestly, at 900 barrels we still won't be producing what the market needs, but that's okay."
Among their rotation of 20 regular beers are several IPAs -- including Walter, a white IPA with Japanese Sorachi Ace hops, and Dirty Shovel, a classic double IPA -- along with a well-rounded selection of stouts, ambers, browns, and pales. "We have such a variety of clientele in Steamboat," Patterson says. "That makes it fun because we can sell a lot of different styles to a lot of different types of people."
Storm Peak Brewing Company is equally known for its experimental one-off and pilot batches. These have recently included a watermelon gose, bourbon barrel-aged Yukon Stout; oak-aged, Simcoe dry-hopped Dirty Shovel; and a smoked chili ale. "A few weeks ago we brewed a French silk stout," Patterson adds. "It's a really heavy imperial and we're going to add chocolate and toffee before aging it in some bourbon barrels. We plan to release it around Christmas."
Favorite beers: Patterson's favorites change with the season. "I always get excited for summer because Odell Brewing Company's St. Lupulin comes back and it's a fantastic beer," he says. A recent trip to Vermont added a few others to his rotation. "I was really impressed with everything that Hill Farmstead, Alchemist, Fiddlehead Brewing Company, and Trillium Brewing Company are doing. There are a lot of really good New England area breweries that people out here never get to try."
As for his family's brews, "Tropical Lawn Mower is my current favorite of ours," Patterson adds. "It's perfect for summertime because it's a really light and easy drinking cream ale that we dry hopped with a ton of Citra to make it super floral and citrusy."
Challenges: Running a brewery in a resort town comes with its own unique challenges, one of which is the seasonal business cycle. "We have a seasonality here that is unlike that of most markets," Patterson explains. "We have at least four months every year where things are very quiet because no one is really in town. We have to plan for that. If we have a really great February and March, we can't just spend those surplus funds because things are inevitably going to slow down."
Opportunities: "I think that demand for our product is the biggest one right now," says Patterson. "We've expanded enough that we've been able to test the market and put our beer in front of consumers who aren't familiar with our brewery. They're responding wonderfully, which lets us know that the beer is good, people like it, and there will be a demand for it. How we take advantage of this opportunity is what we're working on right now."
Needs: "Production capacity," Patterson says. "How do we make more beer? We can't increase production in our current location so we've been doing some brewing and contract packaging at Crazy Mountain. As we prepare to take more production back into our own hands, we have to figure out what that's going to look like for us. Does it look like moving the brewery? Does it look like opening a production facility elsewhere? Obviously we want to keep the integrity of our brand and what makes us Storm Peak Brewing Company, and part of that is the location we're in."