By Eric Heinz
Altitude Brewing & Supplies in Sunnyside is Denver’s sole homebrewing supply shop.
Steve Wigginton, the owner, said he and his wife had been living in Mexico eight years ago and he needed to find a job, so they returned to Denver where he purchased the business.
Altitude was located at 28th and Walnut Street in RiNo before moving to its Sunnyside location in November.
“It was just such a great move for us,” Wigginton said. “We love the neighborhood and we’re starting to get a small following of people in the neighborhood who will come in and have a beer and do their shopping. It’s been great.”
Altitude also provides classes for people to learn how to make their own beer, which Wigginton said is the best way to get started. People can get into their own beer making with a starter kit that costs about $150.
“Generally, the average homebrewer will do about five gallons in a batch,” he said. “That produces, if you get all five gallons, just a little over 212 ounce cases of beer. So basically 50 twelve-ounce bottles.”
Altitude is one of four home brewing companies between Fort Collins and Castle Rock, but Wigginton said there were 11 along the Front Range when he bought the business eight years ago.
“I think the market is probably pretty stable right now,” he said. “Those who remain are hobbyists. Where we’re seeing growth is in distilling mush. We also carry supplies for mushrooms as well as cheesemaking, and we see a lot of growth in the number of people who are making their own kombucha, hard seltzers, hard ciders as well. So while the focus has traditionally been on beer, the wine, the distilling, the cheese making, the mushrooms, especially in the City and County of Denver, has really taken off.”
Although homebrewing had its moment during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wigginton said there is a bit of commitment involved, and with the abundance of professional brewers in Colorado they may want to just try those instead.
“When you’ve got a state that’s got nearly 400 breweries in it, you can find anything you want,” Wigginton said. “Making beer actually takes a lot of time. From start to finish, the traditional way is about a six-hour endeavor, and people don’t always want to commit a lot of time to that.”
Julia Herz, the executive director of the Boulder-based American Homebrew Association, told The Denver North Star via email that there has been an increase in online retailers for supplies.
“Despite a shift to more online sales, like other do-it-yourself activities, many retailers reported an uptick in demand during the shift to more time at home during the pandemic,” Herz said. “Trends demonstrate interest in homebrewing is alive and growing, and with consumer prices up a 9.1% increase across the board, many are looking for cost-saving alternatives and meaningful ways to spend our time.”
Altitude Brewing & Supply is located at 4577 N. Pecos St. in Sunnyside.