A sneak peek at Bristol's Ivywild expansion progress

The development of the old Ivywild School as a new community center, and expansion project for Bristol Brewing, is something that we've heard about for a couple years now. It's been about 11 months since the city gave the official go-ahead for the work to begin. There's a lot of excitement and mystery around what's going to happen to the space, what it will look like, and what sorts of community things will happen in there. Last weekend, we were able to get a tour from Mike Bristol, and he filled us in on the progress, showing us how the space is being filled. There's certainly a lot of work to do still, and I'm not sure there's an official open date yet. But I gotta say, this place is going to be awesome.

Before we dive into the details of the new Bristol taproom and brewhouse, I thought I'd share a little about some of the other businesses that will be a part of the space. When you walk in the main doors and head left you'll find The Old School Bakery, an extension of the Blue Star. You'll see the Meat Locker where you'll be able to buy all kinds of cured meats, sausages, and sandwiches. The Principal's Office, the original location of said office, will be converted into a coffee and pastry bar by day and a bar with Colorado-based alcohol by night. Pikes Peak Community Gardens will have a community hub here and there will be a CSA pick up spot. There are a couple lounges for drinking and working on your computer as well. There are also a couple rooms you can rent out. The old gymnasium will retain it's low hanging basketball hoops and will function as a stage for music and assembly. This room actually reminds me a lot of old and familiar places like McMenamins in Oregon, buildings that keep their historical significance but are also converted into movie theaters with full-service bars.

Portions of the bar in the taproom.

The taprom will feature a bar with cold keg storage directly underneath the bar. The cold storage is built into the ground and so will reduce the amount of energy used for chilling. The bar itself sits in the middle of the room, and will be circled with bar seating. For the first time ever, Bristol will be able to offer their own food menu for guests. There's plenty of space for standing and other seating as well and there's a beautiful overflow room that will also have an outdoor patio facing Tejon St. The walls are exposed brick, sometimes still featuring the artwork of previous Ivywild students. The major portion of this room was actually built as an expansion in the 1950's, and is different from the original 1916 construction of the rest of the building. Bristol's taproom will reflect some of these changes.

You'll be able to overlook the new brewhouse from the windows in the taproom.
Here's a portion of the gymnasium. There are about five hoops stuffed into a half-size court, with a stage on one side.
Some original artwork on the staircases.
The most impressive artwork was in the bathrooms. These were educational murals that covered the walls from top to bottom.
While we were checking out the new brewhouse we ran into Kjell and Jim from Rockyard Brewing.

The new brewhouse is a 34 barrel brewery, and was recently delivered from Germany. When they begin brewing here, they will be able to brew 50% more volume and their space is designed to triple their packaging capacity, although they'll grow into that. The heat from this brewhouse will be channeled into the Hot Liquor Tank and will help reduce 30-40% of the gas Bristol would have otherwised used. Bristol still plans to have a Colorado-only distribution, and they'll also be able to offer more specialty beer and they'll begin a barrel aged beer program.

hoses and fermentation tanks

The area to the right of the main doors at Ivywild is pretty much all Bristol territory. The grey structure you see to the right will function as both a patio for the taproom, and barrel storage underneath. We're looking forward to that!

So yes, there's still plenty of work to be done to get Ivywild opened to the public. Mike said that Bristol could potentially be opening up here in April. I imagine that means production could start in April, but I'm not sure it means that Ivywild would be a fully functioning spot yet. Regardless of when it will open, it's pretty clear that this is a lovely project, the space is eclectic and beautiful, it should feel very homey and comfortable. The brewery will occupy a large portion of the space and as the whole place is truly a unique community hub, beer will be one of the main things that brings everyone together. It feels like a small, welcoming, utopia in there.

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BeerEric Steen