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Guanella Pass Brewery opens in downtown Georgetown

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By Corinne Westeman

For the first time since Prohibition, there is a brewery in Georgetown.

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On a brewing day, the area around Fifth and Rose streets is filled with the smell of hops, grains and yeast, courtesy of the new Guanella Pass Brewery.

The brewery opened Memorial Day weekend. Since then, a steady stream of locals and visitors has been sampling ales, stouts, IPAs, saisons and other craft brews, owner Steve Skalski said.

Skalski, who co-owns the brewery with his wife Stacey, lives in Georgetown but is from the Denver area, along with brewer Jon Strother.

“We so happened to meet up at a brewery (in Denver),” Strother described. “Steve was doing research; he said he was going to open a brewery. And I said, ‘As coincidence would have it, I’d like to be a brewer.’ It was a total chance meeting.”

The men eventually began experimenting with recipes through home-brewing. These recipes evolved into Guanella Pass’ on-tap brews, which Skalski described as being traditional, but are not limited to one style. They added that they try to source local ingredients as much as possible.

Skalski said he bought the building, which had been a gas station previously, in March 2016 and renovated it, adding the equipment. Since opening, brewery employees said the primary feedback has been two-fold: People like the beer and the building’s atmosphere.

“People say they like the patio looking out at the mountains and the location in historic downtown Georgetown,” Skalski said.

Bartender Larry Meraz of Silver Plume added that customers have made positive comments on the interior’s modern look, which is different from most other locales in Georgetown. And, while Guanella Pass doesn’t offer food itself, it has partnered with nearby Troia’s Cafe, Meraz said.

The long-term plan, both Skalski and Strother said, is to have favorite beers on tap and rotate seasonal beers and other options as the months go on. For instance, in August, in honor of Georgetown hosting the Ghost Town Writer’s Retreat, Guanella Pass Brewery will be featuring a Tesla Alternating Ale.

Skalski and Strother commented that customers have also appreciated the brewery’s option of twist-top Crowlers, which are half-sized growlers, to take home. The two also are researching whether to start distributing to local restaurants and other locations. However, Strother clarified it would be a long-term goal that the brewery would need to build toward.

Both Meraz and Strother said they have enjoyed coming to work at the brewery, as seeing happy customers has made all their hard work worth it.

“It’s fun to get feedback, and to see people sitting down, getting together and enjoying something you’ve made,” Strother said. “The last three months were helping out with the construction crews. It’s only within the last couple of months that I’ve felt like a brewer. Making beer is not easy, but Steve trusts me and it’s working out really nice so far.”

Skalski said he’s appreciated the customers’ feedback, and added that, if a request fits the brewery’s recipe style, “Whatever people want, we’ll brew.”

For information, visit guanellapass.com.