This weekend my hubby and I finally got to stretch our Boulder brewery legs when a friend invited us to check out her boyfriend’s band at Beyond the Mountain Brewing Company on 6035 Longbow Drive.
We covered the brewery in our Ultimate Boulder Craft Brewery Guide as one of the featured microbreweries, so I knew the spot thrived on improvisation in both beer and music, but I had not yet seen for myself.
When we got there the sun was high over the mountains and glowing golden warm. I loved how strategically the outdoor seating is placed; you could definitely catch the sun setting over the Front Range mountains. Like so many other off-beaten-path gems, the microbrewery is relatively secluded, but definitely not unknown.
Inside, music filled the space which was certainly built for acoustics. The space resembled a large warehouse divided into sections of front-of-house and back-of-house creative zone.
The Jauntee, a local band that collaborated with Beyond the Mountain Brewing Company on an IPA called Headspin. Image: Taty Sharpton.
The brewery is themed around music, and huge glass windows separate the taproom from the back lab, with the brewery’s fermenters in view, the large tanks where beer ferments for a couple of weeks after being brewed.
The band playing, The Jauntee, is a local jam band that flashes streaks of all kinds of musical influence from european gypsy punk to American bluegrass.
While ordering beers, (I got the Basil Saison while my husband went for the Icculus stout), I noticed a guy in a red shirt chilling inconspicuously at the soundboard, watching the band intently as colors changed from neon blue to lively pinks and greens.
When I asked my friend Lydia how the band got the gig, she informed me that they knew Chuck Hixon, the owner — the guy in the red shirt.
The band’s manager Erwin reached out to Beyond the Mountain not long after they opened about collaborating on a beer, and Chuck jumped at the opportunity since he had been a fan of their music for some time.
The beer they brewed is called Headspin and it’s a juicy, hazy double IPA at 8.1 percent ABV and 85 IBU. The Jauntee band members actively participated in the brewing process, like pouring the giant barrels of barley.
Chuck chills back listening to good tunes and chats with fans and customers, pictured wearing a Beyond the Mountain Brewing shirt.
Chuck Hixon, Owner and Brewmaster, opened Beyond the Mountain Brewery 1.5 years ago with his partner Morgan Way but the idea had been in the making for over a decade.
Surprisingly, Chuck didn’t grow up wanting to be a brewmaster; he grew up thinking he’d teach history. Then he got his first beer kit at 18, and the rest was history.
Now he is 30 and has been brewing professionally since he turned 21. He and Morgan have been wanting to open their own space for years now, but were waiting until they felt they had enough professional brewing experience.
Once they decided to open Beyond the Mountain Brewing Company, equipment took about 6 months to build out, and they were ready to roll.
Since Beyond the Mountain Brewing Company is a microbrewery, the staff is very limited. It’s usually just Chuck and his partner Morgan there every day, along with four bartenders.
Despite the scale, Beyond the Mountain boasts an impressive interior, sleek and classy surfaces and stage space, and a beautiful handmade countertop that compiles hundreds of concert and festival tickets among other music memorabilia.
The brewery’s yearly output is 140 barrels per year, brewing an average of 3 or 4 batches of beer a month. They usually have 11 beers on tap plus a non-alcoholic ginger beer.
“Each of those big silver things (the fermenters) is ten barrels,” explained Chuck. “We’re small because we don’t have distribution yet, it’s all in-house.”
Beyond the Mountain is almost always brewing their IPA because it their most popular beer. Ideally, a batch of beer isn’t on tap for more than 3-4 months.
I joked that because he wanted to be a history teacher, he must be really good at seeing the big picture and that makes this operation not so overwhelming. He laughed, “No, it can still be pretty overwhelming!”
Getting the opportunity to chat so spontaneously with someone who truly put in the blood, sweat, and tears on a dream and made it real definitely puts in perspective how anything that can be real and awesome is equally as scary. The difference is putting in the work and overcoming the fear because you know what can become is so much more bad-ass.
Chuck is excited for the future.
“We have a lot of room to grow,” he said as he showed me all the space in the back. Currently, the brewing company is working on developing a canning system and developing relationships with local distributors.
And it turns out, one of Chuck’s all-time favorite beers he’s made is the Basil Saison!
Score for me. As I sat back and watched the band over the next hour, I had to try the Headspin next. I rapidly typed all of the info Chuck just shared into my phone’s notes, and petted some dogs. Not so bad for a space that thrives on improvisation and professional inspiration.