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Ska Street, a brewstillery collaboration between Ska Brewing and Peach Street Distillery, are seeking a pub liquor license to do business in the former Fate Brewing location at 1600 38th St. in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)
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As Boulder’s combination distillery and brewery Ska Street works to acquire its new brew pub license, its owner shared more details about plans for the business.

Ska Street, a collaboration between Durango’s Ska Brewing Co. and Palisade’s Peach Street Distillers, plans to open a “brewstillery,” the first of its kind in Boulder, at the 1600 38th St. space vacated by Fate Brewing after it shut down in May. Its pub license application will be heard Wednesday by Boulder’s Beverage Licensing Authority.

“For years now we’ve talked about doing something together,” said David Thibodeau, an owner of both Ska and Peach Street. “We knew it would be a unique thing.”

As a craft-brewing hotspot, many in Boulder are welcoming the prospect of a brewstillery. Julia Herz, the craft beer program director at the Brewers Association in Boulder, called the idea exciting.

“Today more than ever many craft breweries continue to diversify and innovate in ways to stay top-of-mind and competitive,” Herz said. “Ska Brewing coming to Boulder as a more advanced-producing craft brewer who’s also in the distilling space should be a very exciting move to watch.”

Thibodeau said that Ska and Peach Street have had their eyes on the Front Range for a long time, waiting for the chance to expand. When the Boulder company Fate Brewing shut down in May after declaring bankruptcy in 2018, it provided the ideal opportunity for Ska Street.

“A lot of these factors came together and just made it the perfect place at the perfect time,” Thibodeau said. “Everything was just right about it.”

Ska Street won Fate Brewing’s assets at a state auction, including an existing 10-barrel brewing system. The 7,000-square-foot space allows Ska Street to expand into the restaurant business.

Thibodeau said that this will be the primary change as they don’t plan to make significant alterations to the building. Thibodeau said that the layout and features like the large kitchen, glass-enclosed brew area and heated patio area are already ideal for Ska Street.

“The change will be in the food that we’re serving and the beer and the spirits that we’re serving,” Thibodeau said.

Ska Street is applying for a brew pub liquor license, with Ska and Peach Street switching from their existing manufacturing licenses to pub licenses. This licensing change allows for all three locations to serve food and to serve their Ska and Peach Street drinks interchangeably.

Liquor license attorney Mike Laszlo of LaszloLaw called the license change more advantageous for the companies.

“The opportunity to sell different types of products to different consumers is just so much greater,” Laszlo said. “We’re offering small businesses an opportunity to be creative.”

At the hearing on Wednesday, the beverage license authority will recommend whether to issue the liquor license to Ska Street. The case will then be sent to the state for approval. However, even after the licensing process is over, Ska Street may still face difficulties.

The Boulder craft beer industry has been taking hits in recent years. Fate Brewing is not the only Boulder craft brewer to cease operations or change business models in recent years.

Boulder Beer Co. turned solely to brewing and distributing its beer in partnership with Denver-based Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. after closing its Wilderness Place taproom last month, and Wild Woods Brewery announced its closure in January.

“What’s going on in Boulder is not unique … There is a tremendous amount of incredible world-class beer out there,” Herz said. “(Brewers) who are able to differentiate themselves, produce world-class craft beer and provide beer lovers a world-class experience at their taprooms or brewpubs are the ones that will continue to thrive.”

Thibodeau is confident about Ska Street’s chances, hoping that they will be able to “fill the vacuum” left from recent closings.

When conducting neighborhood petitions to acquire Ska Street’s liquor license, Thibodeau said that only three out of the hundreds of residents and business owners petitioned declined to sign.

“Our feedback was fantastic,” Thibodeau said. “People were really excited to have something else go into that space to fill that need and that niche.”

Boulder is Ska Brewing’s second strongest market outside of Durango. Thibodeau said that this strong support system, in addition to the unique concept and the larger population of Boulder, set the business up for success.

Moving forward, Thibodeau wants to continue with local, state-wide expansion, focusing on investing in pubs rather than seeking widespread distribution.

“If the concept proves itself, we might consider another location,” Thibodeau said, naming Grand Junction as a possible option for future expansion.

For now, though, Thibodeau is excited about Ska Street’s future in Boulder. Several of the Ska and Peach Street employees have roots in the Front Range. Ska’s Chief Operating Officer Steve Breezley and National Sales Director Dustin LeMoine both worked in Boulder’s Avery Brewing Co. and Thibodeau himself grew up near Wheat Ridge and Golden.

“We’re all just really looking forward to getting back to the Front Range and Boulder specifically,” Thibodeau said.

“This is really fun for us.”


If you go

What: Beverage License Authority hearing for Ska Street’s pub license

When: 3 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Boulder Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway

More information: https://bit.ly/2uVNuLn

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