City Star doubles size of brewery with barrel room and beer garden
By Shelley Widhalm
John and Whitney Way of Berthoud, co-owners of the brewery they opened five years ago, expanded the 2,500-square-foot brewery and taproom by adding a barrel room, an additional seating area, and a beer garden in back — as well as another set of restrooms and room for an office.
“We’re a community fixture here,” Whitney said. “It wasn’t long before we realized the seating area and taproom space was smaller than we’d like it to be.”
Three years ago the Ways purchased the building to the east of the main brewery when Chris Gischel, co-owner of Simply Shabulous, temporarily closed her business before reopening it on Massachusetts Avenue in May. The Ways did much of the work to the building, remodeling it to be a separate space connected to the brewery by a large, open doorway.
The additional space meant the brewery could more than triple its seating capacity. Originally there were 50 seats in the taproom. The barrel room adds another 25 seats, the indoor seating area 24, and the beer garden more than 50.
The Ways built the barrel room to have a double purpose, to store oak barrels to age their beers and to provide seating at two long tables. They called the room the Zoller Barrel House to reflect the building’s history — a man named Jake Zoller had owned a shoe shop and had his living quarters in the same space from the 1930s to the 1970s. The building which had multiple purposes, but the shoe shop was the most well-known, had been moved from old Berthoud to another location before being moved to its current location.
“That’s really an iconic building in Berthoud’s streetscape,” said Mark French, president of the Berthoud Historical Society, adding he appreciated how the Ways retained the building’s front facade. “The owners of a local business respect the heritage and understand how important it is to improve it while you repurpose it.”
The room, which spans 1,000 square feet, will serve as a space for private parties and events.
“Having the additional space available provides greater flexibility in the events we can offer and the groups we can accommodate,” Whitney said.
Across from the barrel room is an indoor seating area with a large windows facing out onto the beer garden, essentially a patio with more seating, a stage that will be used for musical entertainment in the warmer months, and a fire pit in the colder months.
“The beer garden is going to be a real draw,” Whitney said. “It will be more of a destination with the outdoor space.”
The Ways commissioned graffiti artist Gamma Acosta of Longmont to paint a mural of a poker scene, entitled “All In at City Star,” on the west side of the beer garden and outside of the main building. Acosta began work in March and is finishing the project.
Opposite the mural along the fence the Ways plan to plant a row of hop vines, providing what John describes as a “green fence.” The Ways may use the hops, which they purchased from a hydroponic hop farm in Fort Collins, to make some of their beers, but that depends on how the plants turn out. “We’ll have to see what the quality is like,” Whitney said, adding the hops will serve a second purpose. “The way the hop vines grow creates shade and ambience. It’s fun to have the ingredients of our beer growing right there. … It’s an enjoyable atmosphere to imbibe in a beer.”
Having the patio is appealing and the main focus of the Way’s expansion project, John said.
“It’s going to be a great, beautiful space to hang out with friends and family and enjoy some great beer,” he added.
John and Whitney opened the beer garden for Labor Day and plan to have the finishing touches completed by the end of the year, though they had wanted to open it two years ago, according to Whitney.
“We’ve learned from the first building,” she said. “We have been able to do more in terms of décor. We know more about … the finishing details not everyone notices but we appreciate.”
The Ways continue to lease the main part of the brewery from Whitney’s parents, Dan and Rudi Taylor, who in 2011 purchased a 10,000-square-foot, 100-year-old building they turned into retail and storage space. They operate two businesses there, Wishful Living and Happy Mango Beads.
The Ways named the brewery after the building’s original use, once the City Star Barn livery stable. The livery stable was torn down and rebuilt in the early 1900s as Jefferes Auto Co., one of the town’s first auto dealerships, before becoming Jefferes Garage and later Dean’s Furniture, a used furniture store in operation for about 30 years.
“We learned that and ran with it,” Whitney said about the brewery’s name, adding she and John created a walking tour of the brewery with a listing of the historical photos of Berthoud hanging throughout that they printed from historical society images.
The Taylors remodeled the entire building, and the Ways focused on their area, spending a year doing the work. They redid the façade, scraped the ceiling to have a rustic look, added new walls and installed a new concrete floor and interior systems. They were able to retain historical aspects of the building, such as the ceiling and interior brick, and constructed tables and the front of the bar out of some of the original structural wood beams and wood flooring. They used some of the windows to serve as chalkboard menus.
“Anytime we could reuse aspects of the building we did,” Whitney said.
To add to the historical feel, the Ways created four tables out of oak barrels that are in the tap room and a barrel chandelier John made out of another barrel. They used corrugated metal along the wall and incorporated wood, metal, brick and concrete elements throughout, using rustic earth tones.
“Anything we could do ourselves, that’s how we made it possible,” Whitney said.
The Ways completed the remodel by the time of the brewery’s grand opening on May 4, 2012.
City Star Brewery is open 2-9 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 2-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
“We put a lot of hard work, time and energy into building and creating the space,” John said. “On Fridays and Saturdays there’s nowhere to sit. We have more seating capacity to hold all the people that come in, so everybody can enjoy City Star’s delicious beer.”
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