AURORA | There is a science to making beer. From the complex chemical reactions that give the beer its alcohol, right down to the meticulous way brewers have to maintain their equipment, similarities between the two fields are easy to spot.
At the recently-opened Coda Brewing Co., that bond between science and brewing is on full display everyday.
Sitting at 2101 Ursula St. in the 21 Fitz Development just north of the Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora’s newest brewery and tasting room embraces its proximity to the labs and scientists that populate Anschutz.
In fact, Coda’s co-founder and brewer, Luke Smith, doesn’t just refer to himself as a brewer. Instead, his business card also reads “fermentation scientist.”
And, if you order a sampler size of one of Coda’s brews, Smith will serve it to you in glass beakers, some of which were once used in a nearby lab.
For Smith, injecting some science into the beer making process was only natural. Before opening Coda, he worked across Montview Boulevard in a pharmacology laboratory at the University of Colorado. Over the years, his work touched on a couple areas very important to beer drinkers — yeast and bitter taste receptors.
While working at Anschutz, he regularly stopped by the Cedar Creek Pub for a beer and a bite to eat after work. There, he met Cedar Creek president Scott Procop and eventually, the two launched Coda together.
Procop, who helped launch Cedar Creek in 2011, said opening a brewery just across the street from Cedar Creek makes perfect sense.
For one, Coda moving in means the 2,700-square-foot storefront won’t be home to a pizza joint or another business that could siphon customers from Cedar Creek.
Even more than that, Procop said the brewery is a chance to partner with the restaurant, offering up some special food paired specifically with whatever beers Smith concocts.
Lots of breweries rely on food trucks to provide food, but Procop said Coda is different in that customers can order food straight from Cedar Creek, which servers will bring over to Coda.
“It’s great when there are food trucks, but what if there is a food truck you don’t like,” he said.
So far, Coda has three beers on tap, and each is paired with a special menu item from Cedar Creek. The Hydle Ale, an American wheat IPA, goes with the Coda Polish Dog, for example.
Smith has also gone a step further and paired each beer with a song. The audio pairing for the Migration Oatmeal Stout, for example, is James Taylor’s “Walking Man.”
That focus on music will be an important part of the brewery, Smith said, and something unique to Coda.
Smith said he will have live bands playing there in a few months, and he plans to make small-batch beers inspired by particular bands or their songs.
“When the beer is gone and the music is over, that’s the Coda experience,” he said. “You have this novel connection with the band that has never been done before.”
The last several years have seen steady growth among craft breweries. According to the Boulder-based Brewers Association, more than 400 new breweries opened around the country in 2013, bringing the total number to more than 2,700. That’s up from 1,900 in 2007.
But even with steady growth among craft brewers, Smith said he doesn’t think the market is nearing any sort of saturation point, especially in Colorado, where drinking good beer is just part of the state’s culture.
“People love to hike and bike and ski and kayak. And then, drink beer,” he said.