Scaling Up the Home Brew
Nestled in the foothills of Monument, Colorado, lies a 16,000 square foot facility that brews over 6,000 barrels of beer annually. Chris Wright, owner and founder of Pikes Peak Brewing Co., doesn’t just love the taste of a craft lager, he loves creating a place where people can gather, connect, and find a sense of community.
What once started as a hobby, eventually transformed into a full-fledged business. He credits his passion for beer from his time living in Germany and to his wife who gifted him a homebrew kit over a decade ago. Pikes Peak Brewing Co. officially opened doors in May of 2011 and started a canning line in 2014; Chris and his wife would have never predicted that in 2020 they would be opening a second brewhouse in downtown Colorado Springs.
Starting Pikes Peak Brewing Co. didn’t happen overnight. It took years of tweaking recipes, business planning, and financial projections. As a veteran-owned business, he attributes his patience and dedication to his time spent in the military. In addition to his goal-oriented mindset, his success would not have been possible without the help of Academy Bank and Colorado Lending Source. Using a Small Business Administration 7(a) loan, Chris was able to fund the expansion of Pikes Peak Brewing Co. to open a second taproom in downtown Colorado Springs.
Read more about Chris’ journey…
Why are you passionate about brewing?
I love everything about beer. It’s not just about drinking it; it’s both artistic and scientific with how you create recipes and keep batches consistent. It’s also about community. Even as a homebrewer, my neighbors would come over to try out my new beers. I just love the community aspect that brings people together through beer.
What is your competitive advantage?
During my time in the military, I lived in Germany, which helped spark my passion for beer and the community. I learned that a pub is not just a place where people drink. It’s a place where people gather, and I loved that sense of community. It set the foundation for what I wanted to create here. Pikes Peak Brewing Co. has a get-to-know-your-neighbor type of sentiment. So, what we do in the taste room is our big advantage. We’re building our community one beer at a time.
How has your experience in the military transferred to owning a business?
My military training has been incredibly helpful in owning a business. Always planning ahead for the future helped me with business planning. I took about five years to write my business plan to assess all of the what-if scenarios. They say you throw out your business plan the day you open, and that’s true, but you have to go through the planning process to identify your primary focus and why. Planning for the unknown helps give you a backup plan.
Is there anything you encountered with your business that you didn’t anticipate?
There has certainly been a change in the market, especially with grocery stores selling full-strength beers. It used to be that brewers would go after out-of-state markets to increase distribution and sales. That model doesn’t work anymore and that’s only been in the past couple of years. I didn’t expect the market to change that quickly and is why we have to be really nimble.
Why did you decide to work with Colorado Lending Source?
We started researching how to finance the second location of Pikes Peak Brewing Co. and decided to work with Academy Bank who introduced us to Colorado Lending Source. Both lenders had that small community bank feel and it wasn’t just about the numbers for them. They wanted to get to know us and our story.
What has helped you become a successful brewer and get to the production level you are today?
There was a lot of trial and error as a home-brewer. I would try a recipe over and over again, tweaking one ingredient at a time. That way I really understood what impacted the final product. It’s important to understand every element that goes into making a good beer.
Since opening in May of 2011, we’ve doubled in business every year. We opened our canning line in 2014, because distribution was the best way to scale at the time. We dabbled in exporting outside of Colorado, but our primary focus is here. Today the craft beer market is changing, which is why we are opening a second location in Colorado Springs.