What do you get when you mix a few science-minded friends and a love of beer? Declaration Brewing will answer that question when it starts welcoming beer aficionados to its taproom on Saturday, February 14.
The brewery will start off with 12 to 14 brews on tap, working its way up to about 20 by the end of the month. But with 40 total taps in the 2,000-square-foot tasting space, the capacity could get up to that level by the end of the year.
The focus here is not any one style, instead Declaration will offer classic beers that are right in line with the definition of the type, though with some innovative creations too. Of the science-forward approach, self-described "chief instigating officer" Mike Blandford explains, "Really it's applying the science to enhance the art. Craft brewing is very much an art, everybody knows it and it's a phenomenal art at that. I think our ability to apply the science side of it—having an onsite analytical laboratory not only for the production of yeast, but also for the quality analysis of our beer—will allow us to dial in exactly what we're looking for."
In the mix are six different IPAs, some Belgian varieties, a Pilsner, and more. Declaration Brewing is the brainchild of Blandford and three others: head brewer and School of Mines PhD chemical engineer Greg Schlichting, yeast farmer and PhD molecular biologist Paul Ogg, and Bug Stroope, who heads up sales and marketing.
Blandford says Ogg's role as the "yeast Yoda" allows them to produce all of their own yeast in-house. "We have a whole yeast production laboratory that we're finishing up right now in order to do our own yeast production. Which basically allows us to control how quickly and cleanly our beer ferments."
The decision to start a brewery was made four years ago, with it taking two years to find a location. The building at 2030 South Cherokee Street was the former home of a car museum, and one of the old showrooms has been turned into a brewing room. Overall, the nearly 9,000-square-foot space encompasses the taproom, cold room, and 6,500-square-foot brew house. Situated on half an acre, the facility also includes a 5,000-square-foot beer garden and a grassy area for yard games.
Blandford says there are plans to add a pergola to the patio and build a stage for live music in the yard, which they hope to have completed in the spring. However, there is a paved area that can accommodate two food trucks at once, and Declaration currently has a stable of 73 interested food trucks that could rotate. Additionally, the brewery has a YouTube channel called Declaration Station, on which they will produce a couple web series. One concept is to host Friday night food truck battles and invite local chefs to judge the competition, and the other, Fermented Freestyle, entails bringing in hip hop acts to perform—the first will be local artist Lily Fangz.
Aside from what's available in the taproom, Declaration Brewing has a full distribution license for the state plus a canning line, so expect to see the first six canned options in liquor stores by April. A shipment of 600 kegs will also facilitate bars and restaurants throughout the state being able to offer the brews. Declare Your Tap, an upcoming program on social media, aims to have people share where they want to see Declaration beers around town.
The grand opening celebration on the 14th will likely start in the mid-afternoon, with barbecue and ice cream operation the Turn and Burn food truck on hand. The taproom's hours are yet to be finalized, but expect it to be open either five or seven days a week, from around noon to 8 p.m. on weekdays, and noon to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.