Upslope Brewing Co.
Boulder’s Upslope Brewing Co. is an example of what can happen if you don’t let your dreams slip away.
Matt Cutter and some of his friends dreamed of starting a Colorado microbrewery 10 or so years ago, but money was scarce, and credit for a small business was even more unattainable. He packed away the business plan and started a career in high tech.
Several years later he looked at the plan again and decided to go for it. Cutter and his wife, Lara, took out a second mortgage on their house. As they signed the papers, she looked at him and said, “You’re gonna make this fly, right?”
Upslope Brewing Co. was up and running in Boulder in September 2008. Cutter and his partners canned their first beers that November, just a little too late to compete in the celebrated 2008 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. But they were ready in 2009. Their first year out of the gates, Upslope won the bronze medal in the German Wheat Ale category for its Dunkelweizen, and Upslope brewer Brian Patterson won a bronze medal for his Time of the Season Belgian hybrid in the Pro Am homebrew competition.
Upslope Brewing Co. produces seven-barrel batches at its warehouse brewery in north Boulder. The small brewery and its equally tiny tasting room with only a few barstools and tables is usually full of people from the neighborhood and friends of the staff. Conversations blend freely. The pub serves no food other than free pretzels.
Cutter found Dany Pages, head brewer at Upslope, on probrewer.com, a Website for professional brewers. Pages knew about starting from the ground up. Nine years ago, he started his first three-and-a-half barrel brewery in a chicken shed in Ushuaia, Argentina, considered the southern-most city in the world.
Pages is still a partner in Beagle Brewery in Ushuaia. “The advancements Beagle made in eight or nine years, Upslope has made in one,” he says.
Pages imports Patagonian hops for his brews at Upslope Brewing Co. It’s one of the little things the brewery does that sets it apart from the vast number of breweries in Colorado.
Upslope hand cans its beers, six pack by six pack, in recycled aluminum. The beers are more portable for hikers and bikers. The packaging allows no light in, so the beer can be sold unpasteurized, which allows a fresher taste for longer.
Local breweries like Oskar Blues and New Belgium have helped Upslope Brewing Co. work out the kinks as it got started. Oskar Blues, known for its own canned beers, sold Upslope some pop tops for its cans once and even sent its packaging manager over to “help them dial in” their hand canning process. New Belgium offered to loan Upslope Brewing Co. hops or malts if it ever accidentally ran out of ingredients while getting the hang of the brewing.
“Craft beer only makes up what, six percent of the market? At that rate, why should we fight for crumbs? We should be helping one another,” says Henry Wood, marketing and sales director for Upslope Brewing Co.
Wood says he and Cutter attribute their success in the beer industry to their lack of knowledge about it. Neither has any experience making or selling beer. They met through their brander, Pete Burhop, who also has no experience creating a brand for beers.
“We love it here,” Wood says. “North Boulder is our home. We’d like to expand in this location.”
For Cutter, starting a new business in Colorado while continuing to work at his previous career has taken time away from his family. But Lara and the kids, son Gabe and daughter Jean, understand.
“How can you tell your kids, ‘you can do whatever you want to do with your life, follow your dreams,’ while they watch you not pursue yours?” Cutter asks.
If You Go
Upslope Brewing Company
1501 Lee Hill Road
Boulder, Colorado 80304
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 4-8 p.m.
Add this Colorado brewery to one of your must-haves to visit!