If You Go
What: 300 Suns Brewing
When: 2-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; noon-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday
Where: 335 1st Avenue, Unit C, Longmont
Info: 720-442-8292 or 300sunsbrewing.com
LONGMONT — The lights are on and the beer is flowing at 300 Suns Brewing, the first start-up craft brewery to open in Longmont since Left Hand Brewing Co. was founded in 1993.
Partners Mark Lusher and his fiance, Candace Newcomb, and husband and wife Dan and Jean Ditslear put in years of planning, several rounds of crowd-sourced and private financing and a lot of "sweat equity" to make their dream of opening a craft brewery a reality, Lusher said.
A sizable crowd showed up for last weekend's grand opening to check out the fruits of their labor.
Patrons found a bright, inviting space that bears little resemblance to the nondescript warehouse on First Avenue the partners used as their blank canvas to create 300 Suns. The 1,250-square-foot tasting room features handsome wood paneling stained in a spectrum of warm tones, as well as a striking bar top that Dan Ditslear created using thousands of pennies, a few nickels and embossed gold medallions that pay tribute to 300 Suns backers.
A variety of seating options — including high-top tables that sport 300 Suns logo and several picnic-style community tables — ensures that groups both large and small will be comfortable. In warmer weather, two garage-style doors can open onto a large front deck, with plenty of room out front to park a food truck.
Lusher, the brewmaster, also outfitted 300 Suns' seven-barrel brew system from scratch. He purchased a brew kettle from Bennett Forgeworks, made by Tom Bennett in Ridgway, Colo., and bought a mash tun constructed from a converted dairy tank by Dairy Engineering in Denver. A stout and an India Pale Ale were bubbling away in the two fermenters last weekend, with plenty of room to add more equipment.
"We designed this place with expansion in mind," Lusher said.
The brewery opened with four beers — Rabbit Mountain Red Ale, a tasty red ale brewed with a touch of honey; Sun Worshipper Brown Ale, which features a lightly roasted, nutty flavor; Colorado Sunday SMASH 1.0, the first in a planned series of beers brewed using a single variety of malt and a single hop strain, and 1st Avenue River Pale Ale, a crisp and citrusy pale ale named in homage of the floods that swept through the area just weeks after the partners signed the lease in September.
Lusher expects that both the IPA and the stout will be ready to serve by this weekend and will round out 300 Suns' lineup of core beers.
Lusher, who got into the business as a homebrewer, is also planning a series of "collabeeration" beers. Homebrewers will be invited to submit beers along certain style guidelines, and the winning brewer will have an opportunity to brew and serve his or her beer on the 300 Suns system.
Lusher and Dan Ditslear also enrolled in a brewing immersion course offered by Tom Hennessy of Colorado Boy Pub & Brewer in Ridgway to help get acquainted with brewing on a production-sized system and to get a clear picture of the business specifics related to running a brewery.
"The two of us went down there, and I hung out with the brewer and learned the brewing process, and Dan hung out with Tom and learned the business side of things," Lusher said. "It was very helpful to see what running a brewery actually looks like."
Lusher also brewed a few batches with brewers from Twelve Degrees Brewing in Louisville and Echo Brewing Co. in Frederick, both of which are alumni of the course.
For the most part, 300 Suns' core beers are moderate in strength, well balanced and brewed to style. Even casual craft-beer drinkers should have no problem finding something to like on tap among the diverse selection.
For now, 300 Suns will concentrate on tap-room sales and growler fills, with an eye toward distributing kegs to area restaurants in the near future, Lusher said.
"We have at least 16 recipes that are solid at this point," he said. "We'll keep brewing and see what people like."
The brewery also will pour beer at two upcoming events: the Hops & Handrails Beer Fest & Rail Jam, presented by Left Hand Brewing Co., on March 29 at the Longmont brewery (lefthandbrewing.com), as well as the New Brew Fest: Boulder County, sponsored by the Colorado Beer Trail and Bootstrap Brewing and scheduled for May 10 in Niwot (facebook.com/events/1445548125679759).
The New Brew Fest will feature more than 20 of the region's newest breweries, including 300 Suns, City Star Brewing, Echo Brewing Co. and many others that are helping to solidify the Front Range's reputation as the Napa Valley of beer.
Contact Tom Wilmes at email@example.com.