Awards Could Translate into More Capital for 12Degree Brewing

12degree brewing

A World Beer Cup win came at a pretty good time for 12Degree Brewing owner Jon Howland.

The Louisville, Colorado brewpub won Champion Brewery and Brewmaster for the small brewpub category in Philadelphia in early May while capturing Gold in the Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale with “Treachery,” and Bronze with “Soleil,” in the French & Belgian-Style Saison group.

Now, capitalizing on the wins could help 12Degree with the chance to open a second location in the area located between Denver and Boulder, Colorado.

“That’s probably where it could help us the most.,” Howland said when asked if the wins will help gain favor with investors and banks. “We opened this first location on a shoestring. If we want to get bigger, we do need to raise the money and this will help in that regard.”

A second location could mean more beer, a chance for more distribution and some specialty bottling along with adding to the current staff of 15, but Howland said he has only been “poking around” for the next spot.

“These wins will help that process along,” he said. “I don’t know what we are going to do with this but I think the timing is not bad considering we are looking to expand and brew some more beer.”

12degree brewing

He is mostly focused on the three-year-old brewpub that he says is set up to just be a neighborhood brewpub.

“We focus on Louisville and just serve the best beer we can here and in Boulder and surrounding towns,” he said. “Primarily we are focused on the room we are in.”

That room is a modern brewery shoehorned into a 120-year-old house that before Prohibition was the city’s Temperance Hall.

“[It was] a place specifically NOT to drink which is hilarious now that it’s a brewery,” Howland quipped.

The 7-barrel brewhouse with three fermentors begins upstairs, next to the taproom and kitchen while the bottom floor hosts a walk-in cooler, serving tanks, grain storage and other brewing tanks.

“With a second spot I would like to keep the same feel and vibe but try to find a spot with more space so we can brew enough for that space and do some small scale bottling and canning,” Howland noted.

The inspiration for the brewpub, which has a 15-item menu of food as well, are breweries and pubs in Belgium. Howland talked about a trip overseas left an impression.

“There is a staggering number and most are really small,” Howland said. “That’s something that the U.S. and Colorado are starting to be like that. Each have their own personality and families hang out there. They drink for flavor for the most part and in moderation and a way to enjoy the atmosphere and the beer.”

Howland said they have taken that attitude and it’s been successful for 12Degree. That has changed a bit as the brewpub is now, technically, world famous.

“We don’t do a lot of marketing or any advertising. There’s been a lot of press about us lately and that’s been fun,” Howland said. “It put us on the map a little more.”

Although Treachery and Soleil are two of his favorite beers to make, Howland, who made the trip as a last-second decision, didn’t expect much at the WBC.

“When I saw the size of the competition and the categories I didn’t think much about winning,” he said.

The Bronze for Soleil came first. After receiving the award, Howland noticed Treachery’s category was up.

“They ran through the other two, which were both from Colorado (Gemini Beer’s “Sanctuary” from Westminster, Colorado took Silver and Funkwerks’ “Deceit,” in Fort Collins, Colorado took Bronze). Then they announced we won and I was blown away.”

It was hours before Howland could talk to anyone back home. His phone ran out of battery life three texts into winning the Bronze medal.

“Back at the brewery, the bartenders jumped up on the bar at the end and announced [the wins] to the crowd,” Howland recalled, noting that when it was said barely any breweries won more than one medal, he had an inkling that 12Degree would win the small brewpub award.

It’s an award that will hopefully be used to further expand what Howland wants 12Degree Brewing to be.

“We are focused on keeping the quality high across the board,” he said. “The food, the service, the environment and the beer.”

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