A 100-plus year old building in the heart of Niwot's historic district is about to have new life breathed into it as a brewpub.

Powder Keg Brewing Co. is scheduled for a summer opening at 101 Second Ave. in a 1911-built building that originally housed Hogsett Lumber & Mercantile Co. More recently, it was home to Chris Finger Pianos.

Phil Joyce is Powder Keg's brewmaster, and overseeing the construction inside has become his full-time job. He said that the brewery is owned by eight core investors who live in Niwot and Longmont, one of whom is Mark Krebs, whom Joyce worked for in college.

Joyce, a mechanical engineer by trade, was approached by Krebs last year when he and his seven partners decided to open a microbrewery. Joyce said he and Krebs have been friends ever since he first went to work for him.

Ryan Bell of Cooper Electric is seen in what will eventually become the brewhouse for Powder Keg Brewing Co., which will open in July at 101 Second Ave. in
Ryan Bell of Cooper Electric is seen in what will eventually become the brewhouse for Powder Keg Brewing Co., which will open in July at 101 Second Ave. in downtown Niwot. (Matthew Jonas / Longmont Times-Call)

"I started really getting into beer," Joyce said. "That's kind of the case for a lot of mechanical engineers. Most of the brewers I know are engineers."

The owners started in on construction of their new place about a month ago, first by doing some of the early work on the space themselves, such as cleaning up the exposed brick, and since then construction workers have taken over. Powder Keg is slated for a July opening, Joyce said.

The owners had looked all over Boulder County before settling on the prominent corner spot in downtown Niwot, he said.

"We really wanted access to people," he said. "This is the best price-wise and it's in the middle of downtown."

They'll start out with what will be a four-barrel brewing system, Joyce said. He plans on serving three to four year-round beers and then smaller specialty batches of what he calls "chef's choice."

Because Powder Keg is registered as a brewpub, it will also be able to serve wine and hard liquor, as well as offer other breweries' beers. Joyce said they also plan to partner with local chefs to offer food to customers.

He said he's the only one in the business working full-time at the place. He anticipates having four to six full-timers when they open and then adding more part-time help as needed. Meanwhile, the eight owners have all kept their full-time jobs.

Joyce said he's not completely turning his back on mechanical engineering, but is enjoying this new role and is excited to help build it the new brewery from the ground up.

"I worked for a bigger firm," Joyce said. "I was always involved with parts and pieces of things but never got to oversee the big picture. There was some creativity lacking there."

Powder Keg will be Niwot's second craft brewery. Leslie and Steve Kaczeus opened Bootstrap Brewing Co. in Cottonwood Square in 2012.

Contact Times-Call staff writer Tony Kindelspire at 303-684-5291 or tkindelspire@times-call.com