Can do, says PPB
It's been four years since Colorado Springs' only beer canner, Arctic Craft, shut down. So when Pikes Peak Brewing Co. (1756 Lake Woodmoor Drive, Monument, pikespeakbrewing.com) begins to can its Elephant Rock IPA on June 20, it'll enjoy the distinction of being the area's only brewery to can for distribution (at least until Red Leg Brewing Co. gets rolling later this year).
"My goal is to become the clear number two in Colorado Springs [behind Bristol Brewing Co.]," says owner/brewer Chris Wright, who on June 11 will also reveal a new logo and website. PPB will celebrate with the release of the Penrose Private Reserve, a wine barrel-aged version of its Belgian-style Pikes Peak Gold Rush, which will be sold in 750ml bottles (not cans).
To reach that goal, Wright plans to produce 60,000 cans by 2014. And by August, PPB's Devils Head Red should join the IPA on local liquor-store shelves. Within a couple years, Wright hopes to buy a canning line, but in the interim he'll utilize a Boulder-based mobile canning unit that serves the likes of Boulder Beer and Denver's Renegade Brewing.
Wright says he was compelled to grow into cans because he believes they're better for the beer (allowing no light penetration for longer shelf life). And he desired to distribute after seeing a study that ranked the Springs as having the fourth-highest concentration of craft beer drinkers in the U.S., but a smaller amount of breweries compared to cities lower down the list.
"I think they're drinking craft, but not local craft because they might not know about it ... Bristol does a great job, but there are other local breweries — I think they will choose local over remote."
À la carte
• In the former Firehouse BBQ location at 817 W. Colorado Ave., The Upper Room Coffee (theupperroomcoffee.com) recently opened as an extension of the faith-based nonprofit Springs of Hope. (Hence the signage: "Amazing taste, how sweet the grounds.") The spot features both Christian movie and live music nights, and among its outreach services works directly with our local homeless population. It also provides support for international organizations working on health and education initiatives.
According to director of development Greg Thomas, 100 percent of proceeds go directly toward programming, and guests can choose which mission to support with each purchase. Coffee and espresso drinks are prepared with Barista Espresso beans, and pastries are from Sugarplum Cake Shoppe.
• The former Whiskey Dick's at 26 E. Kiowa St. has turned into the much-less-racily-named (if not completely limply named) The Downtown Bar-N-Grill (636-3425). The fare is "typical bar food," in the words of one staff member, including burgers, lunch sandwiches, wraps and wings — all to be savored alongside drink special nights and karaoke.