Carving a path

by Jessie O’Brien

Carver Brewing Company may not have been the first craft brewery in Colorado, but the brewpub has still had its share of firsts. From putting out the first fruit beer to utilizing wind power in the brewery, Carvers has always been an innovative leader in the industry.

First Durango coffee roaster

Jim: We were the first place to roast our own coffee and grind it here. Years ago, coffee came in these little 2-ounce packets. You’d rip them open and pour them in. It was truck stop coffee. It was crap. So, people would come in and go, “Wow. This is the best cup of coffee I’ve had since I left New York.”

First non-smoking bar

Jim: When we opened, we were the first non-smoking bar probably in the Southwest. One hundred percent of restaurants were smoking.

Bill: Because our mom wouldn’t let us smoke.

First fruit beer

Bill: We started making the Raspberry Wheat Ale (in) ’88, and as far as I know, it’s the oldest fruit beer in America.

First computerized system

Bill: We had the first computer system called Aloha.

Hurst: You will find them in just about every major chain in the country. They have this floating logo on all their touch screens.

First wind-powered brewery

Hurst: We were the first wind-powered brewery in the region. We got all of our power green from our local co-op.

Largest solar hot water array

Hurst: We put on the region’s largest solar hot water array on our rooftop in 2008.

Bill: We have this huge array above our heads that heats a 1,000 gallon tank. We go into every evening with all of our dishwater hot so we are not burning gas.

Jim: The thing that makes it work for us is we are going through 1,500 gallons of hot water per day. If you don’t go through a lot of hot water, you don’t need a hot water heating system.

Bill: Not only in the summer, not only in the winter. We use it every day.

Jim: We heat the building in the winter with it. Kind of like your car – the engine heats the water and blows it up. So, the roof heats the glycol and puts it through a radiator.

Hurst: We say powered by the wind and heated by the sun.

Jim: We just can’t stop doing projects.

Cuntz: I’ll attest to that. Two years ago, we’re gonna stop doing all this stuff. We’re not going to do it anymore. Yeah, right.

Jessie O’Brien


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