Great garage makeover turns into neighborhood hub

WEST HIGHLAND — In the original North Denver, the garage was as ubiquitous as a burrito. The kind of garage that cars got fixed in. Scattered on every other block this kind of building was the backbone of blue collar, honest laborers. The kind of place that Bob and Ted built. It was the kind of place that felt real…kind of homey, in that down to earth way. No pretense.  But, as the Highlands started trading in low-riders for the Lexus, the garage was traded in for big boxes. All that seemed to be left were garage doors that started appearing as walls and windows in trendy restaurants. Mostly, though, the garage door closed on an era of the north side.

The garage that sits across the street from the Highlands United Methodist Church (HUMC) has long been abandoned as a mechanics joint. Although the community has gathered there often for events from Halloween to Christmas tree lightings to the Taste of Highlands, its use has been primarily for Church storage and the parking lot that the congregants utilize. That is all about to change.

Highlands United Methodist Church has a vision. Unlike many churches who have sold parcels of land to shore up financial reserves or fix failing infrastructure, HUMC’s mantra is “Building a Home Where all Belong.” Rather than sell out, Reverend Brad Laurvick plans to share this vision with the entire community to bring a beating heart back to the type of building that once represented the heartbeat of the community.

A capital campaign is underway to reinvest and renovate the building, as a community space, as well as for much-needed church improvements. On November 20 the congregation will make its commitments toward the $ 400,000 goal that will finance the renovation of the garage, as well as the restoration and preservation of the church’s stain glass windows, and swap a boiler before it bursts. While the congregants will finance the majority of needs within the house of worship, the goal is to engage the entire community in the effort to build the community hub.

Laurvick explained, “Finance wise, the church will be funding the majority of everything including the garage. We want to invest what we have, what we do, and whom we are to make this possible. We also want to invite the neighborhood to support it as well.” The idea is inspiring many and generous donations have started to flow in from neighborhood business leaders like Matthew Hibler, Cliff Bautsch and Fire on the Mountain.

He said, “With all the things the Highlands of Denver offers, one thing missing is space. There aren’t enough spaces for people to gather, for neighborhood get-togethers, for free classes and workshops, and more. We will turn our unused parking lot garage into a “Hub for All Things Highlands.”

Laurvick’s imagination runs the gamut for its potential uses including Co-working Monday’s that bring those who work from home together with other creative people. Early plans also include gardening workshops, bike maintenance classes, live music, and a spot for kids play days during the winter.

Getting under the hood of other ideas being considered include concepts as varied as a spot to stay in for youth groups on missions, a reclaimed and recycled playground with yard games and climbable art, a neighborhood art gallery with rotating exhibitions featuring local schools and local artists’ works, community yoga, quilting classes, dance classes, music lessons, a community conversation pit and after-school tutoring. He envisions it as “a community space with a micro-park vibe where people intentionally choose to stop by to see what’s going on while they are out for a walk.”

The old garage.
The old garage.

Laurvick believes the renovation and reimagination of this space will take it from “urban blight to urban delight. Instead of redeveloping, we will be reinvesting and reinvigorating.” He hopes that the building will be activated for community use by the summer of 2017.

The interior plan includes keeping the space open and airy to encourage a variety of functions. Exterior concepts include the integration of art and murals, another anchor concept of the old north side, now modernized. The wrap-around “guerilla-art” will reflect the various aspects of the neighborhood and Colorado that keep bringing new disciples to its mile high ground. Motifs on the mural could include imagery like bicycling, The Millennial Bridge, gardens, strollers, and eating ice cream. The idea is in very early conceptual stages, but ultimately serves to reflect the mission that HUMC stands by; to serve its community with “open hearts, open minds, open doors.”

The annual holiday tree lighting is on Sunday, November 27 at 7:00 p.m. Laurvick will open the garage doors in their current raw state to invite neighbors in for hot cocoa and cookies so that they, too, can be part of the dream team that reimagines what their community space could be. Laurvick will provide a financial update and is seeking ideation input for the plan. For this writer who has lived through the radical changes in North Denver and witnessed that everything old is new again, I hope they call it “The Garage.”

Everyone in the community is encouraged to donate to the capital campaign to have a place that we can all “own,” a place where all belong. For more details and to donate visit

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North Denver gets gold at the Great American Beer Fest!

DENVER — The themes of this years’ Great American Beer Fest (GABF) was twofold: Celebration, and Reunification.

First, Celebration. 

GABF is not just a place to try all the beer you can hold in three hours.  It’s a world-renowned competition, where beers are blind tasted and essentially ranked by quality, on a number of distinct flavor, aroma and textural elements. There are 96 styles of beer, many with multiple subcategories.  This year, the festival had a specific section pouring 2015 winners, offering a great chance to try some world class beers.

Breweries will often enter the competition but not host a table in the hall, or, will host a table but will not pour the specialty beers they have entered in the competition.  Since entrants pay to host a table, they have substantial discretion on what beers they choose to pour.  One might assume that brewers would choose to pour lower cost beers to a crowd of less discriminating palates, but this is not always the case.

Now, on to the winners!

I am proud to report that five North Denver breweries took home medals at the 2016 GABF!  2016 GABF was a blast and was made even sweeter by how well our local companies did in the competition.

Cerebral Brewing took the Gold medal in Brett Beer for its “Dreamy Thing” Brett farmhouse ale, a simple table beer that’s been inoculated with Brettanomyces to create a tangy beer.  This beer is a collaboration between two North Denver breweries, Our Mutual Friend and Cerebral.

14er Brewing also took home the Gold for its Rocky Mountain Saison in the Chili beer category. 14er is so hardcore, they don’t even have a brick and mortar location, yet they’re obviously killing it.  I’m very excited for them to open and I love the name and concept.

Denver Beer Company Canworks also took Gold for their “Drama Queen,” in the wood and barrel-aged beer category.  Way to go guys!

Prost took home a Silver medal for their Weisbier, in the South German Hefeweizen style.  Prost boasts some rock solid German beers and a view of the city that can’t be beat!

Fiction Beer Company also won a Silver medal for a German style lager, with their Alternate Present Schwarzbier.  Regarding style, a Schwarzbier is simply a deep black lager.

Again, a million congrats to all the winners!

Now on to theme two, Reunification.

A great big deal that came out of the festival is the proposed reunification of the Colorado Brewers Guild.  Back in June, the group fractured due to some major M&A action in the Colorado Beer Scene (a little company called AB InBev purchased Breckenridge Brewing and many were upset over the impact of voting rights and control in the guild due to AB InBev’s status as a multinational conglomerate).

Craft Beer Colorado spun off to form its own group.  As a result of talks around GABF the Guild and Craft Beer Colorado have proposed a merger and may be on the verge of reuniting.  As a consumer, I am cautiously supportive — the bifurcation only served to create confusion.  I am also a realist. It’s no surprise that consolidation happens when a field is as profitable and growth oriented as the craft beer scene.  But what will Anheuser-Busch InBev buy next?

Bacon and Beer Returns!

Saturday, November 5, 2016, 2:00pm – 5:30pm
Glitter Dome  |  3600 Wynkoop Street, Denver

Two Parts hosts the fifth iteration of an outstanding festival pairing local brews with tasty bacon-inspired dishes.  Not to be confused with the Bacon and Beer Classic, Two Part’s festival is a local Denver undertaking.  Proceeds from the fest will benefit Project Angel Heart and Metro Caring, so you can fuel your love of pork and other cardiovascular challenges while giving back.  You can expect beers from Alpine Dog Brewing Company, Call to Arms Brewing Co. Cerebral Brewing and Goldspot Brewing Company, as well as others from the surrounding metro area.

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Ska Mexican Logger Wins Bronze Medal at 2016 Great American Beer Festival

DENVER — Ska Brewing’s Mexican Logger polished off another great summer season with a medal at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) this past weekend. Mexican Logger clinched the bronze medal in the International Style Pilsner Category at GABF 2016.

Last year, Ska’s Mexican-style lager rendition won a Silver medal in the same category.

“We always knew Mexican Logger was a crowd pleaser, but to have it win a medal two years in a row at the Great American Beer Festival is super exciting for us,” said Kristen Muraro, Marketing Director at Ska.

Originally brewed in 1999 and first enclosed in cans in 2011, the Mexican Logger has been our top seller every summer. To keep up with demand for Mexican Logger this year; Ska Brewing increased production of the beer by twenty percent and anticipates increasing it another twenty percent in 2017.  To answer the most frequently asked question, Mexican Logger will not be available year-round.

Mexican Logger offers a superhuman balance of sweet malt and mild bite. Crafted with fresh grains and Saaz hops, the Mexican Logger is a refreshing brew for warm weather days. At 5% ABV and 20 IBU’s this highly seasonable beer features a light to medium body and a clean, crisp finish.

Mexican Logger has just wrapped up its 17th thirst quenching summer to make way for its winter season sibling: Euphoria Winter Pale Ale. Look for Mexican Logger next spring in all of Ska’s regions of distribution, which are largely Colorado, Southern California, Chicago, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

About Ska Brewing
Based in Durango, Colorado, Ska Brewing was founded in 1995 and produces over a dozen award-winning beers.  Pioneers in the canned craft beer movement, Ska Brewing is known for an array of styles in 12 oz cans including Modus Hoperandi, Mexican Logger, Euphoria and Pinstripe.  For information (a lot of it), music, and a good time, visit Plug into the latest updates, beer releases and shenanigans at and

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