Boulder's craft beer scene just got a little bigger.

Two local men recently opened Asher Brewing Co., a startup microbrewery with an organic beer bent.

"We think brewing with better ingredients will make better beer," co-founder Chris Asher said.

Asher brewed beer for RedFish for the past six years, but was left without a job when the downtown restaurant changed hands and later reopened as the Draft House.

He partnered with Steve Turner, the brewmaster at Broomfield's CB & Potts for the past 10 years, to launch the venture. The two pooled their money together to purchase the equipment and spent the past four months setting up shop in a 2,200-square-foot space in Gunbarrel.

With the tanks occupying the warehouse parcel, Asher and Turner converted the front 700 square feet at 4699 Nautilus Court, Suite 104, into offices and a tap room that's open in the afternoons Tuesday through Sunday.

The startup's starting small -- selling only growlers and kegs until the bottling and canning machines arrive. The hope is to have a bottler for 22-ounce "bombers," to give the brewery flexibility to launch specialty brews, Turner said.

Cans should be the primary vehicle for distributing the beers for the fledgling company, Turner said, noting the lighter-weight cans should have a lower cost of shipment and they are easier for people to transport and recycle.


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In the meantime, Asher and Turner are hitting the streets, trying to get local restaurants on board to put the beers on draft.

They recently landed their first account at Backcountry Pizza in Nederland.

"When (Asher) was working for RedFish, he brewed some really good beer ... and they always came out at a very high level," said Craig Cummings, Backcountry's manager.

Considering the track-record, Backcountry definitely was interested to get its hands on the new brews. A few days after buying kegs of the Greenade double IPA, one-half of a barrel is already gone, Cummings said.

Greenade is one of four initial beers from Asher Brewing. The other three include Green Bullet pale ale and the yet-to-be-named wheat and amber ales.

Organic will provide a niche for the new brewery, but Asher Brewing also opted to go that direction on principal and taste as well, Asher said. Pesticides on ingredients can affect the oxidation and shelf life of beer, he claimed.

While going organic will come at a cost -- certified-organic ingredients are less plentiful -- the action is worth it, Turner said.

"Organic ingredients are premium ingredients; they're very good," he said. "It makes good beer."

Plus, Asher chimed in, Boulder will be a solid breeding ground because of its prominence and history in the natural products industry.

Asher Brewing joins a budding craft beer industry that has grown from under 100 breweries -- including brewpubs, microbrewers and regional brewers -- to 1,482 breweries in 30 years, according to the Boulder-based Brewers Association. While strong in size, craft brewers account for only 4 percent of the U.S. beer market by volume and 6.3 percent by dollars, according to trade association data.

Craft brewers may occupy a small piece of the pie, but sales and production continue to increase by 9 percent and 5 percent, respectively, according to figures from the first half of 2009.

"I think people are drinking more and more craft beer," Asher said.

Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or wallacea@dailycamera.com.