Beyond beer: Yampa Valley Brewing Company’s Barrel Cathedral aims to place Craig on craft beer map |

Beyond beer: Yampa Valley Brewing Company’s Barrel Cathedral aims to place Craig on craft beer map

CRAIG — Business owners and residents in downtown Craig are being asked to support licensing for a new brewpub.

The petition is part of the city of Craig regulatory process, by which an establishment opens in a building that has not previously held such a liquor license, said brewer Erica Tieppo, one of four partners in the Yampa Valley Brewing Company and its new venture, Yampa Valley Brewing Company — the Barrel Cathedral.

Since the official announcement of the development near the end of October, Tieppo and brewer Christian Dufresne have been fielding many questions.

"People are saying we're bringing another bar to Craig, and that's not what this is about," Tieppo said.

What is a brewpub?

The world of beer is full of terminology — nano breweries, microbreweries, brewpubs, craft breweries, and taprooms, to name a few.

A brewpub is an establishment owned by a brewery that serves its product directly to the public.

Tieppo and Dufresne said their brewpub is "a gathering place where neighbors and visitors alike can share a unique experience over the most social beverage in the world — beer."

So what makes that different from a bar?

Brewers Erica Tieppo and Christian Dufresne are two of the partners involved in the Yampa Valley Brewing Company the Barrel Cathedral opening in Craig spring 2019.

It's mellower, and it’s focused on community, food, family, and acoustic music, Tieppo said.

"We can have events that have no alcohol at all. It's about people gathering and creating community over food, craft beer, and low alcoholic drink options. … Sales of alcohol are not at the forefront," Dufresne said.

As for the brews, in addition to craft beer, they'll offer a small selection of house-made soda.

"The goal is homemade root beer prior to opening," Dufresne said.

Their hours are also expected to be more limited compared to other establishments, which they believe will benefit downtown.

"The idea is to increase the amount of time that cars are parked downtown," Dufresne said.

He envisions a time when people stop in for a beer, then do a little shopping before eating dinner at Carelli’s Pizzeria prior to a movie at West Theatre.

Community building, building community

"Breweries change neighborhoods. When a brewery enters an area of a town, it breathes new life into the area,” says Brewers Erica Tieppo and Christian Dufresne.

"Breweries change neighborhoods. When a brewery enters an area of a town, it breathes new life into the area. Foot traffic increases, other new businesses open, and the brewery itself becomes a community center for the locals. Our vision extends beyond ourselves, into seeing a renewed vibrancy to downtown Craig," Tieppo and Dufresne wrote on their Indigogo campaign page.

The campaign seeks to generate community buy-in for the new company ahead of its planned opening in spring 2019.

Backers are offered perks, including swag, a bottle club, and a private barrel reserve program. For $500, the backer or "Patron Saints of Barrels," will have one barrel named after them, a custom labeled case of beer from every batch that goes into it, Barrel Cathedral glassware, and a supporter T-shirt.

"The brewery will be there no matter what. By engaging people before it opens, we are ensuring a market," Dufresne said.

Putting Craig on the craft beer map

Tieppo and Dufresne, who have 15 years experience brewing in Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Southwest Colorado, think Craig is primed to become a craft beer destination.

"People don't think of Craig as a place that is a destination, but everywhere you look, there are bars and restaurants with six to seven taps, many with craft beer," Tieppo said.

She thinks craft beer can be intimidating and is determined to make it accessible.

"We plan to have beer tenders to give people the knowledge to explore craft beer, but not in a way that is intimidating," she said.

An example of one of their offerings is the Coal Miner Stout – "a beer for the working class person," Tieppo said.

An approachable ermine dressed in historic mining gear is featured on the front of the specially designed beer can. It "honors the history of our region and is a hearty brew, good at the end of a day's work," she said.

Other beers reflect places and causes found exclusively in the Yampa Valley, such as the Sandhill Crane Red, with a percentage of its sales supporting the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition.

Another example is the spring/summer brew, currently in development, that will support the Friends of the Yampa's work to create a river diversion project to provide added recreational opportunities near Craig.

Creating a cathedral

Once the Craig brewpub location is open, Yampa Valley Brewing Company beverages will be produced at both locations.

The wort — the barley sugar tea — will be made in Hayden, then transported to Craig for barrel aging, souring, and brewing. Brewers Erica Tieppo and Christian Dufresne enjoy a laugh in front of some of the brewing equipment used in Hayden.

The wort — the barley sugar tea — will be made in Hayden, then transported to Craig for barrel aging, souring, and brewing into a “heavily farmhouse Belgian style” beer, Tieppo said. "To get the best of the best, you have to go to Craig."

Creating the Barrel Cathedral from one of Craig's oldest buildings — 576 Yampa Ave. — has already required significant structural engineering.

The upstairs apartment has been removed, support beams for an indoor/outdoor balcony have been added, and large openings have been blown out of two sides of the building to create large, garage-door sized entryways.

"The two beams were the hardest," Dufresne said. With the large beams in place and contractors working on "structural lumber, it should fly," he added.

Once completed, the taproom will provide jobs for four or five people, and the developers have plans to grow to about 10 staff within the first year.

"We think Craig deserves to have a distinctive and fun beer program that is unlike anything else in our region of Colorado, that showcases the community for its innovation and adventurous spirit," Tieppo and Dufresne wrote on their Indigogo campaign page.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or

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Where to find them

  • Yampa Valley Brewing Company — The Barrel Cathedral

Opening Spring 2019 at 576 Yampa Ave, Craig
Bottle Club:

  • Yampa Valley Brewing Company

Located: 106 E Jefferson Ave., Hayden
Hours of Operation: 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 3 to 10 p.m. Friday; 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Cans of Yampa Valley Brewing Company’s brews are available at Eastside Liquor and many of their beers are on tap at restaurants in Craig, Hayden and Steamboat Springs.