AURORA | Aurora’s Southlands mall just got sudsier.
The city’s newest brewery, Bent Barley, officially opened its 10-barrel brewing system to the public on Nov. 16, bringing the number of homemade watering holes in Aurora to nearly a dozen.
The brainchild of longtime co-workers Mark Job and Paul Dampier, the new space in the south Aurora shopping center aims to magnetize craft drafts to what has long been a beer desert.
“There’s certainly a void of breweries out in this area,” said Dampier, who lives about one mile from the new brewery that sports a pair of garage stores and seven flat-screen TVs. “There’s a couple in Parker and a handful in the Aurora area, but that’s compared to one every couple hundred feet down in downtown (Denver). I love those breweries downtown I just can’t get there from my house without a 30 or 45-minute drive, so we thought we should start something like this out here.”
Dampier, who worked with Job for years at an Aurora-based software defense contractor, said the next closest breweries are Los Dos Portrillos off of E-470 and South Parker Road in Parker and Aurora’s Two22 Brew on South Reservoir Road. Both of those outposts are about five miles from Southlands.
Though new to the Aurora suds scene, both Job and Dampier are seasoned home brewers, with nearly three decades of experience between them.
Job, who served in the Air Force for almost 20 years, has perfected his home brews for more than two decades — save for a three-year stint he spent stationed in Bavaria, Germany.
“There’s not much sense in brewing your own beer when there are so many beers to try,” Job joked of his home brewing sabbatical in Europe.
Job and Dampier began establishing their operation more than four years ago, though the bulk of the development work has taken place in the past year, Dampier said. Since the Bent Barley owners trademarked their brand in 2014, the number of breweries across the country has nearly doubled, Job said.
Still, they were confident a location in the city’s far southeast corner would provide access to a yet unspoiled market.
“The fact that there are no breweries here, and so much foot traffic, and so many homes being built out here, we felt that it was just the right location for us,” Job said.
The U.S. added 881 breweries between 2016 and 2017, according to the national Brewers Association. That addition brought the total number of breweries in the country to 6,372, according to the industry group.
The Brewers Association ranked Colorado third in the nation for total number of craft breweries in 2017 with 348.
That translates to 8.4 breweries per capita, contributing about $3.15 billion to the state economy.