Ross Koenigs isn’t an artist, but you can find his work in all fifty states. He’s not a chef, but there’s a good chance that you or, or someone you know, has tried one of his recipes.
That’s because as the longtime research-and-development manager for New Belgium Brewing, he helped create some of the Fort Collins-based company’s most well-known beers, in particular the Voodoo Ranger series, which is one of the top-selling IPA portfolios in the country.
But after 11 years at New Belgium, Koenigs and his wife, Amy, are moving from Fort Collins to the Denver area and going it alone with a brand new brewery that is under construction in a 5,100-square-foot former auto repair shop near the bustling Stanley Marketplace in Aurora.
Second Dawn Brewing, at 2302 Dayton St., will include a 1,000-square-foot patio and lineup of eight to 10 beers, each with a little bit of Koenigs’s spin to them.
“Starting my own business had always been one of my prime aspirations for my career,” he said, adding that although he loved his job, he knew that wouldn’t be able to look himself in the mirror if he didn’t at least try to bring out his own entrepreneurial spirit.
So he and Amy began looking for a spot along South Broadway. But after their real estate agent showed them “this cool building’ in Aurora – which, at one point, was a part of the community of businesses that supported the former Stapleton International Airport – they were sold.
One of the things the Koenigses plan to do with the layout and design of the building is to make it welcoming and accessible to all kinds of people. “We want to reimagine the taproom experience,” he said. For instance, there won’t be any steps or stairs in the building, while the bar itself will have both chair level and stool level seating.
In fact, the couple’s architect, The5WH, has laid out a theory in its approach that tried to identify and break down societal norms about public spaces and redo them for the brewery.
“We’re moving into a highly diverse neighborhood … and we want to be cognizant of how we show up as new neighbors,” he added. “What I took away from my time at New Belgium, more than anything, was how to be a good business citizen and corporate citizen.”
In addition, Second Dawn’s adult-centered non-alcoholic beverages, from sparkling waters to hop-flavored teas, won’t just be an afterthought. “A lot of people don’t drink or aren’t drinking right now for one reason or another,” so breweries aren’t always the most inviting places, Koenigs pointed out. So he wants to make sure that Second Dawn caters to them as well.
As for the beers, there will plenty of IPAs – “that’s kind of my thing,” he said – along with other styles of beer and hard seltzers “that appeal to as many people as possible.” But Koenigs said he plans to add some “culinary cocktail-inspired” twists to them at the bar.
That means he’ll have a rotating selection of syrups, fresh juices, tinctures, herbs and spices that he can add to the beers. So instead of making a strawberry cheesecake flavored Berliner weisse, for example, he would brew a classic version of the that style, and then add fresh strawberry juice or a cheesecake crumble in the taproom if the customer wanted to try it that way.
Koenigs will make the beers on a 10-barrel brewing system he bought from the former West Flanders Brewing Co., which closed in Boulder last year. The system had originally been owned by B.J.’s Brewhouse in Boulder, which has won multiple awards and medals with it.
Until then, construction will continue at Second Dawn. Koenigs said he hopes to be open in time for the Great American Beer Festival in early October.
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