On Pearl Street’s east end, a few blocks east of the 28th Street Mall, sits an office park with Sanitas Brewing Co. tucked into a back corner, abutting railroad tracks.
The location actually seems to work in its favor. Its on-site taproom has a polished, spacious interior, a sleek vibe, crisp beer and a great patio with, a big bonus, a McDevitt Taco Supply truck anchored on site.
Somehow, it feels like you discover Sanitas’ taproom, which opened with the brewery in late 2013, co-founded by Michael Memsic and Chris Coyle.
Sanitas Brewing Co. taproom. Photo: Paul Hagey, BLDRfly.
Before diving into a brewery career Michael tried the real world first. He lasted about a half a year at a sales job, before quitting for some quiet time working at a ranch near Cuchara, a defunct ski resort south west of Pueblo, Colorado.
The ranch was hard work — it also cleared his head. “I’m going back to Boulder and getting into beer,” he told himself. “I’m going to chase this dream until it fails me.”
He landed at Boulder Beer and ended up working for nine years on the brew side. There he met Coyne, another brewery worker.
In late 2010, they started drawing up a business plan and began drumming up funding — in April 2013, they left Boulder Beer. By year’s end Sanitas was open for business.
Beer + community
Like many craft breweries nowadays, Sanitas has a big focus on IPAs. Its selection includes Sanitas IPA, a Black IPA and two benefit IPAs, Sanitas MTN TRL Ale (a clean, refreshing grapefruit-infused IPA) and the Sanitas POW IPA. More on the latter two below.
Sanitas Brewery taproom manager Lindsay Lostetter serves up a crisp glass. Credit: Paul Hagey, BLDRfly
Memsic says Sanitas constantly explores new beer styles. This year it has been experimenting with fruited lagers, lacing them with lime, tangerine, blood orange. It’s all part of a trial-and-error process. What tastes good and sales, stays — what doesn’t, goes.
A portion of sales of the Sanitas POW IPA go to the Boulder-based nonprofit Protect Our Winters, which works to inspire athletes and business leaders to raise awareness around climate change.
“We believe in what they stand for,” Michael says, adding that the brewery has decided to dip its toes into developing a political voice.
The other benefit beer supports its namesake, Mt. Sanitas. A portion of the sales goes to support maintaining and improving Boulder’s most accessible lung-busting trail through donations to the Boulder Open Space Conservancy, a nonprofit that partners with the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks.
Sanitas Brewery and the conservancy collaborated on a May event with food, music and beer at North Boulder Park, MTN2TBL, to raise money for Sanitas trail repairs. You may have noticed some of the recent trail improvements.
As for its Sanitas name, Michael says the brewery wanted something that resonated with Boulder, that was immediately recognizable — that also had broad appeal. Sanitas was a good fit.
The firm originally planned to do all-organic beer, but found that the market wasn’t ready to pay a premium to produce it.
The brewery expects to brew 3,000 barrels this year; it distributes a large chunk of that — up and down the Front Range and to Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland and Nebraska.
But the distribution strategy’s changing, says Sanitas co-founder Michael Memsic. As the craft beer flood continues to drown the market, smaller firms such as Sanitas must plan carefully.
Sanitas launched in 2013 as craft beer popularity was still surging. The industry has continued to grow, but supply is overshooting demand in some places, both in Boulder and in the nation — competition is fierce.
When the brewery launched, Michael says it felt like they could sell as much beer as they could sell. Now that’s no longer the case. It takes savvy sales and marketing to generate demand and keep it up, Michael says.
Besides raising funds for POW and Mt. Sanitas, the firm has cornered the quirky event corner. This summer, it threw Taco Fest, in conjunction with McDevitt Taco Supply, that featured live music, lucha libre wresting and over 30 tasty tacos.
Feature image: Sanitas’ owl logo and mascot. Credit: Paul Hagey, BLDRfly.