“We brew beers that 50 percent of the people are going to love and 50 percent of the people are going to hate, and that’s fine with us,” Jeffrey Green of Very Nice Brewing Company says. “We’re always going to be the guys who’re going to sponsor the little league team, keep people happy with being able to come in and feel safe . . . It really isn’t solely about the beer: It’s about the space that we create, and people love to keep coming back to that space.”
For Green, it’s always been about space—even as a kid growing up in Dayton, Ohio, trips to Colorado held promise.
“It was all rock climbing and western stuff,” Green says. “And giant mountains. It seemed like adventure was around every corner . . . As a kid, it was just heaven.”
In 1999, Green relocated to the Centennial State—first to Denver, then Boulder, incrementally moving closer and closer to the mountains until he was in them. Then came the beer. ‘Round about 2000, 2001, Green hooked up with former Wolf Tongue brewer Cory O’Neel and brewed a clone of McEwan’s Export: a Scottish ale Green fell for on a backpacking tour. But it wasn’t just that beer that enchanted Green.
“I fell in love with the English pub,” he recounts. “After your day, you go to the pub, and you’re talking to everyone from 18 to 80.”
Boulder has its own version of the British pub, full of warm wooden furniture and carpeted floors: Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery. His pint of preference: Java Porter, a very nice choice.
“Part of the fun of going to a craft brewery was you were where the beer was born, and you were where things were actually being worked out,” Green says. “It was extremely interesting.”
And it didn’t hurt that Mountain Sun had live music. The pieces were falling into place.
“I remember going to see Yonder Mountain String Band,” Green recalls. “You knew they were going to be there every Sunday, and you saw the same people every week, and the beer was excellent.
“You had to go to work the next day, but at least you had that last little awesome thing before you had to start your week again,” he continues. “And that feeling was a very peaceful, communal feeling—it wasn’t like a party feeling that you go to a bar and people are doing shots off skis and TVs everywhere.”
Live music, a welcoming space, very nice beer: It’s what Green wanted to bring to Nederland. So he did: On October 25, 2012, Green and his wife Susan opened their Very Nice doors.
“At the time, there was a lot of grace amongst craft beer drinkers and the craft beer world,” Green explains. “You would almost get an excitement, where people would like this, or not like this. They would talk about it; there would be conversations. And it was just a lot of fun having that process . . . Back then, you had this sense of just being able to bootstrap it, being able to take the resources you have without going leagues into debt and carving yourself out a little niche in the beer world.”
Today, Very Nice’s niche is getting bigger. Since opening, Green has been using a 3.5-barrel brewing system—roughly 744 pints of beer per brew. Not bad, but Very Nice beer is in demand, and the Greens are looking to Gilpin County for a second brewing and tap house location to keep their customer’s bellies full while still being able to donate beer to charity. “One dollar in four goes to charity,” Green told the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners in 2017.
“We are extremely community-oriented and have donated $12,000 to local charities and issues since we opened in 2012,” Green wrote in the 2017 application. According to Very Nice’s website, that contribution number is now up to $22,000.
Michael J. Casey is the author of Boulder County Beer, a refreshing history of how a collection of young entrepreneurs like Green turned the cities of Boulder, Longmont, Nederland, and beyond into ground zero for craft beer in the Centennial State.
Very Nice Brewing Company, 20 Lakewood Drive, Suite 112, Nederland, 303-258-3770, verynicebrewing.com