Visited on: Saturday 2nd June 2018
This brewery is different to most of the other operations in Denver as it has a real tangible link to the past. Its origins go back as far as 1859 when it was established by John Good, an immigrant with a brewing background. Simultaneously Frederick Saloman opened the Rocky Mountain Brewery and Good sells him his part of the Tivoli Brewery. In 1864 Moritz Sigi opens Sigi’s Brewery. Somehow this becomes part of the same company as Tivoli.
The Rock Mountain Brewery is bought by Phillip Zang in 1871 and renamed to Zang’s Brewery. This company did not recover from prohibition. In 1879 Sigi’s Brewery is acquired by Max Melsheimer and the name is changed to Milwaukee Brewery. It is worth noting that Milwaukee already had such a good name for its beer that far-away breweries were being named after it. The brewery was greatly expanded in 1880 when John Good loans Max Melsheimer $250,000 for new coppers and a grain tower.
In 1901 Good forecloses on Melsheimer’s loan and takes control and renames it Tivoli. In the same year he merges the company with the Union Brewery to form Tivoli-Union. In 1916 prohibition starts earlier in Colorado than the rest of the country. When it was over in 1933 the brewery was still in the hands of the Good family. The final heir Loraine Good passed on in 1965 and the company was sold to Carl and Joseph Ochiatto.
During the 1950s and 1960s the brewery was producing 150,000 barrels (bbls) per year. In 1969 the Tivoli-Union Brewery closed. There was a bad flooding of the South Platte River in 1965 and a workers’ strike in 1966. Both of these events were contributory to the brewery’s demise. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 which ensured its survival. In 1994 it became the Students’ Union building for the three universities on the Auraria Campus.
Before we move to the modern age I would like to mention the rather beautiful brewery buildings. The part that is now used for brewing is the old boiler room. The magnificent chimney was added later.
The four-storey main building was constructed in 1882 and was designed by Frederick C Eberley, a noted local architect. It is connected to the tower building built in the High Victorian Italinate style between 1890 and 1891 by an over-bridge. This was when the chimney was constructed. The building should be viewed from the down-town Denver side of Cherry Creek to appreciate its true beauty.
The latest epoch of the brewery’s long history was when husband and wife team Corey and Debbie Marshall, bought the old Tivoli trademarks and those of other old breweries such as Sigi’s, Zang’s and Neef Brothers.
They went to Prost Brewing, a Denver brewery that specialises in German-style beers (see separate article) and attempted recreations of the lost beers with the invaluable assistance of Tivoli’s last brewmaster.
In the Boiler Room of the old brewery they installed a thirty barrel (30 bbls) plant. Along with that came eight 75 barrel vertical fermentation tanks and nine 75 barrel lagering tanks. The copper and mash tun from the original brewery remain as a display. Not just a commercial venture, the university uses it for training purposes in brewing, operating a taproom, sales, marketing, quality, distribution and much more.
Because it is part of the university campus there is more than one way in to the taproom. We managed to find the long away, through the administration buildings. After asking for directions one we discovered it through an unmarked door. The pub looks out over open grassland to Cherry Creek with the city skyline beyond. For how long this pleasant vista will be available is not known. Enjoy it while you can.
The large brewery takes up most of the space along one side of the large room. It is enclosed behind glass but there are shelves and stools around this.
We then come across the bar counter. This is unusual there is a second one. The other is at a higher level behind, with the city views. The décor of the many nooks and crannies around the pub is eclectic, yet provides a warm feel. There are glass-topped tables and comfortable seats with wooden floors. There’s plenty of ephemera from old breweries and it provides a nice atmosphere.
The Taproom has over fifty draught beer taps. Usually around 10 to 12 are Tivoli beers and about the same are guest beers. We had two from home and two from away. From home were: One for the Money IPA (6.6%) was very dry and bitter with a good aroma; Gravity Black Array IPA (6.3%). A black IPA that was very bitter with no discernible malt taste.
From further afield Wiens (Temecula, California) IPA (7.5%) which was well liked. It was heavily hopped and very dry with a citrus after taste. A West Coast IPA from the West Coast!
Our next beer was from even further afield: Einstök (Akureyri, Iceland) Artic Pale Ale (5.6%) was quite good with medium bitterness with a malty background. My first Icelandic draught beer. Tivoli often serves this brewery’s beers.
Food is more snack-like than meal-like. We liked Tivoli very much with its comfortable ambience, despite its situation on a college campus. Of course, there’s always the holiday periods!
Tivoli Brewing Taproom, 900 Auraria Parkway, Suite 240, Denver, Colorado 80204. Tel: 720 458 5885
Hours: Monday-Friday 10.00-2200; Saturday 1100-2200, Sunday 11.00-20.00
Tivoli is easy to reach from Denver city centre on two bus routes.
The 20 goes to the pub through down town north-easterly along on 15th Street, it returns on 17th Street.
The other good route is bus 1. In the centre this runs to the pub along 18th Street and returns along 17th Street. The no 1 serves many good pubs on the South side.
Alight at Auraria Parkway & 9th Street on both routes.
For directions to the pub, see below*.
It’s also easy by rapid transit. From Union Station lines C, E or W serve the Pepsi Centre-Elitch Gardens station. From the station go south towards the University with the Pepsi Centre Stadium on your left.
*You will soon be at Auraria Parkway where the buses stop. Cross over Auraria Parkway into 9th Street.
Turn left into Walnut Street. The Tivoli Brewery in on your right. The best way to the Taproom is straight on. Turn right at the corner of the building into 10th Street.
You will find the entrance to the Taproom on the right.