Breweries Find New Opportunities in Their Own Backyard

Whether it’s down the road or inside its own walls, regional breweries are finding ways to maximize profits by creating secondary outposts within their city of origin.

Recently, Ska Brewing in Durango, Colorado opened Mod Brewery, a smaller brewhouse within the production brewing facility, while West Sixth Brewing in Lexington, Kentucky opened a taproom called The Greenroom about a mile and a half away from its original taproom and brewing facility.

With so many breweries in the country now, companies are doubling down on protecting their home region with small-batch beers that only will be available at their new facility.

For Ska, having Mod within its own walls will help better serve the local Durango area and could help with re-igniting return business in beer tourism.

“It’s another kind of local focus and something else we can offer to a lot of our customers here locally to give them new beers to try as well as the tourists,” said Ska Marketing Manager Kristen Muraro. “It can expand on our tasting room as well, to bring in new options.”

Only available in Kentucky and just across the border in Cincinnati, Ohio, West Sixth co-founder Brady Barlow said he wanted his brewery to lay deeper roots into its local market with the creation of The Greenroom.

“If you aren’t taking care of your own backyard, you are missing an opportunity,” he said. “With so many breweries coming online you really have to focus in on your local market first. We feel like we may never go outside of Kentucky and Cincinnati. We are focused on local and putting all of our abilities to make sure we are very much a Kentucky brewery.”

Not wanting to stray from what Ska is known for, with hop-forward or English-style ales, the veteran brewery created a new thumbprint within its own walls. Mod is a 3.5-barrel brewhouse with seven-barrel fermentors which will be used as a way for Ska brewers to flex their creative muscles while still helping Ska pump out regular large batches at the production facility.


“Sometimes we are brewing the same beers over and over and we have a lot of talent on staff,” Muraro said. “This gives them the opportunity to help work on new recipes and brew on a smaller system. A lot of these beers we have been working on for years and on smaller scales and just haven’t had a way to showcase them. This can show some of the diversity our brewers can do.”

Many of the beers will focus on barrel-aged or fruit-forward offerings in Goses or Berliner Weisses. Many Mod recipes call for local fruits and fermentation in barrels from Ska’s sister distillery, Peach Street Distillers, out of Palisade, Colorado.

“It’s a different kind of style than what Ska is known for,” Muraro said. “It has its own feel and vibe.”

The beers created by Mod will also be available in the Ska Brewery taproom, which bumped its tap total from 12 to 20 offerings.

With Mod now open, that frees up brew schedule time and fermentor tank space to bump up production of flagship beers for Ska as well, which will help increase availability of mainstays like “Modus Hoperandi” IPA along increased production of seasonals and specialty beers.

West Sixth created The Greenroom, which is located in downtown Lexington, to be able to bring in a different audience, said Barlow. What he calls “The Mothership,” the main taproom, is about 1.5 miles north by northwest of downtown.

“People that come into town might not have cars and want to walk from the middle of downtown to Sixth Street and just stick to the general vicinity,” he said of the taproom, which holds about 50-70 people inside and 25 more on the patio, is about a third of the size of the main taproom. “Some have found it by surprise just from staying at the hotels downtown.”

This also gives more monetary opportunities as The Greenroom, which currently is open Thursday through Saturday only, can host smaller events during the week as well.

“It opens up a lot of possibilities for having that second space,” he said.

West Sixth had teamed up with a local bakery located next door to have a small but unique menu as well.

Currently, employees are splitting time working at the main taproom and the new Greenroom area. Barlow said morale is high.

“We have some folks that have been with us for quite a while and they really enjoy the feedback from customers since they are enjoying the space as well and enjoying the diversity.,” Barlow said.

Mod Brewery didn’t start as an in-house idea. Originally, plans were to create a new facility in another part of Colorado or a neighboring state like New Mexico. Instead, Ska officials decided to be more cost efficient and used former warehouse space to create the new brewery area.

This became possible when Ska purchased a separate building to house a new warehouse recently.

Muraro pointed out that Ska wanted to be aware of other places that already carry its beer in the state and beyond as well.

“Last summer we came across a little brewing system up for sale and we purchased it without knowing where we were going to put it,” she said. “As we talked things out we realized that we wanted to focus on our own tasting room and expand the options there. Why not keep it close to home where we can manage it more and have more resources available.”

One team member was promoted to run the new Mod section and Muraro figures that two to three more jobs could be created in helping with maintenance.

Mod will have six or seven beers on tap in the Ska taproom at all times and Muraro said the expectation is to increase production from two batches per week up to several more as demand increases.

Although it’s intended to stay in-house, some Mod beers may trickle out for special events.

“If something does stick and we find there is something that could work on a larger scale I could see the potential of distributing something on a larger scale,” Muraro ventured.

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