On a below-freezing Tuesday evening, half of the taproom at Großen (pronounced ‘grossen’) Bart in Longmont is filled with smiling people sitting in front of can-shaped glasses adorned with pictures of various facial hair styles and sampler trays in the shape of mustaches.
You can smell the undeniable aroma of steeping malt in tanks behind the bar, and the swirling fog emanating from the front door caused by the heat from the kettles combined with the outside temps makes those who enter through the front door appear as though they’re in an ’80s hair metal video.
Although the rock band smoke is unintentional, everything else at Boulder County’s newest brewery is deliberate. Großen Bart has been in the works for over two years, but the wait was worth it according to co-founder Shad Chancey, as it enabled them to work on recipes and flesh out a complete brand.
“I think our marketing campaign is pretty different. With all of the facial hair styles and pop-out mustaches on the coasters, it’s pretty interactive, and it’s gaining a lot of foot traffic on Facebook,” Chancey says.
Just as Chancey says this, a neighboring patron laughs and points over to a table of young women, all wearing the pop-out mustaches and taking pictures. “I do believe a good brand is really important no matter what business you have,” Chancey says. “It’s just something I wrote down one night and pitched to them (referring to friends and Großen Bart’s other co-founder, Taylor Wise) and they were like, ‘Yeah!’”
In addition to developing a theme and marketing plan, the two-year planning process allowed Chancey and Wise to find a seasoned head brewer in Walter Bourque, something the two said would not have happened had they opened sooner.
“I didn’t want to be overzealous as a home brewer and think I could be a commercial brewer by reading a book,” Chancey says. Bourque was able to use his professional experience and scale up some of Shad and Taylor’s homebrew recipes, and also add some of his own. Bourque says the team gives him the freedom to use the ingredients he wants to ensure a good product.
“Whatever you need to… go ahead, get it. [It] gives me no excuses to make shitty beer,” Bourque says of the independence he’s given and commitment the team has to making good beers.
The face follicle-themes don’t end with the decor and beers, as Großen Bart has teamed up with Floyd’s 99 Barbershop to offer haircuts, massages and beard and mustache trims in their taproom on Thursday nights. “We met them at Oktoberfest in 2013 and thought, ‘Let’s work together.’ They really like our concept and it worked with them,” recalls Chancey.
The Boulder Facial Hair Club will also hold meetings at Großen Bart, and future events are in the works, including a beer and cheese tasting tour with a local creamery.
Großen Bart currently has six taps available, with the full 18 expected to roll out sometime in the late spring to early summer. One of the highlights is the Chin Curtain IPA, an enamel-stripping hoppy American IPA, with a grassy and herbaceous aroma, resiny hops and a light candy-like sweetness in the malt for balance. A personal favorite is the Chevron Dry Irish Stout: An ultra crisp and dry body allows for loads of roast, with a touch of smoke reminiscent of the char on a nicely grilled steak, but extremely sessionable and easy to drink.