I got wind that Judge Baldwin's, Colorado Springs' oldest brewery, had put an end to beer-making, so yesterday I visited and asked a few questions. This was the second time I'd been in and to be honest I was surprised at the homey feeling of the place, almost feeling a bit like a British pub, although obviously not as old. From the front of the building, and based on the knowledge that the place is a part of the Hilton Hotel, it was hard to know what to expect. For some reason I almost had in mind some cafeteria style place, I really don't know why I thought that. But in actuality this could make a reasonably comfortable place to have a beer.
I talked with Aaron Duff the restaurant manager. He confirmed that indeed Judge Baldwin's was no longer making beer. As of yesterday, the only JB beer still on tap was the Yardwork Pale Ale, and it
will disappear soon. Instead, they're taking things in a new direction, they've got 8 tap handles and at this point the plan is to carry eight Colorado craft beer taps. They may add a macro product but Aaron says that's not his goal. I asked if Phantom Canyon Brewing (who is almost literally kitty-corner) was sucking up their business and he said he actually thinks both businesses benefit from each other in many ways. In the end, he told me that making beer in-house was just getting too expensive. The brewery was only producing extract beers, which can be quite expensive, and also much less versatile than an all-grain system and it's just easier to have people bring the beer in to you. Mike Ford, the brewer, has been an employee there for some time and was offered a supervisor position.
The reception to the change has been positive. They've been quite happy at how quickly the Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils, Dales Pale Ale, and New Belgium's Sunshine Wheat are selling. Besides those, they also had on Odell Cutthroat Porter and 90 Shilling, Great Divide Hoss, and the Colorado Native. Not bad, I'd say. I also like the change, not that I really knew what things were like before, but I think this could be a nice, cozy little place. Perhaps geared for business meetings strictly due to its location. I also think it's great that the now-taproom will be serving great local beers to all sorts of visitors who come in from around the country/world.
|The now-unused brewing equipment at Judge Baldwin's|
Oh yes, what about all the brewery equipment? Well, Aaron said they've already received a surprising amount of offers. They're currently working on putting together a price tag. The place will need to do some demolition to get the equipment out, so I was happy to hear they're still willing to let it go. If I hear anything about that, I'll keep you all posted. But if you're actually interested, you should give them a call yourself.
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