What: Gravity Brewing
Where: 1150 Pine St., Unit B, Louisville
When: 4-9 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 3-10 p.m. Friday, 2-10 p.m. Saturday, 2-7 p.m. Sunday
Info: 303-544-0746 or thegravitybrewing.com
LOUISVILLE -- Karen Spencer is tending bar on a recent weekday evening at Gravity Brewing.
Spencer, who's also an investor in the business, addresses many of the customers by name. Although Louisville's first microbrewery and tasting room has been open less than a year, she says she enjoys that it has quickly become a gathering place for the community.
"You good? You happy?" she asks with a smile as she makes the rounds checking on customers.
The large, open space is divided roughly in half by a long, curving bar, which separates the tap wall and brewing area from the public space. There's a pool table and a pingpong table, where two teenage boys are engaged in a spirited game. A couple play cards at the bar, and a small group of women are celebrating a birthday.
Patrons can order food from the kitchen at American Legion Post 111, with which Gravity Brewing shares the building, bring in their own meals or have food delivered to the tasting room.
The owners are also building a large outdoor beer garden they hope to have ready by early summer.
I strike up a conversation with a customer who lives in Denver and works in Boulder County who says he makes it a point to stop in at Gravity whenever he can, especially for a pint of Gravity's Acceleration Double IPA.
"The atmosphere here is way different than downtown Denver's tap rooms, that's for sure," he says.
Co-founder John Frazee, a partner in Gravity with Ryan Bowers and Julius Hummer, characterizes the brewery's vibe as "a reflection of the demographic of Louisville."
"We're very family friendly," he says, "and I think our customers love that." They also seem to really enjoy the beer.
Hummer, the brewmaster, has worked in brewing for most of his life, and his father, David Hummer, co-founded Boulder Brewing Company in 1979. According to his bio on Gravity's website, Julius Hummer has produced more than a dozen Great American Beer Festival medal-winning beers as head brewer at various breweries around the country.
He and Frazee, a homebrewer who longed dreamed of opening his own brewery, brew at least once a week on Gravity's 10-barrel system. As implied in the brewery's name, they like to focus on bigger, high-gravity beers.
"We love to make big beers and those tend to be the beers that we enjoy drinking, as well," Frazee says. "There's something about the bigger flavors that resonates."
While most of Gravity's lineup skews toward full-flavored beers, the brewery offers a wide variety of traditional styles across its 16-tap lineup.
There's something here to please most any palate, whether it be Gravity's light and lower-in-alcohol cream ale; its Mendacious Belgian Blonde, with a hint of pilsner flavor; the well-balanced Newtonian ESB; its popular India Pale Ale; a Double Red Rye, or the Tsar Bomba Russian Imperial Stout, with intense, chocolate-covered bacon-like flavors.
Going back to his 10-gallon homebrew setup, which the brewers use for small-batch beers and pilot batches, Frazee says, makes him appreciate how much effort homebrewers put into making their beer.
"It's the same amount of work and time, maybe more, but you're getting 10 gallons of beer versus 315 gallons," he says. "Still, at those small volumes you can take chances and try crazy things -- if you screw up, it's not that big of a consequence."
And, as evidenced by Gravity's excellent beer and success, the results are almost always worth it.
Contact Tom Wilmes at email@example.com.