The award-winning Dry Dock Brewing Company is Aurora’s first microbrewery. Established in October 2005, Dry Dock is co-owned and operated by Kevin DeLange and Michelle Reding. The brewery began with just two employees in a 900 square-foot space with less than 20 seats in the back of Kevin and Michelle’s homebrew supply shop, The Brew Hut. They brewed less than 500 barrels of beer in 2006. How-ever, Dry Dock has enjoyed tremendous success and growth in a very short time. As of 2015, the brewery was producing almost 20,000 barrels of beer each year! It is the largest brewery in Colorado that is only distributing in-state. At the “South Dock,” there’s a cozy bar with casual seating, a jovial atmosphere and a staff eager to serve. Patrons flock to the bar to taste new and frequently-changing brews. Behind a glass wall lives the brewery’s small production facility, and also on the premises is The Brew Hut, a supply house for homebrewers and wine makers.
With the assistance of an SBDC consultant, Dry Dock secured a $4.5 million dollar SBA 504 loan in 2012. These funds allowed Dry Dock to produce a larger volume of beer to distribute much more widely.
“Working with any government agency can be daunting, so it has been great to have a partner to help us through regulations and training, or just to point us in the right direction if we have questions,” said Kevin.
Dry Dock Brewery may be “landlocked” at South Chambers Road and East Hampden Avenue, but this small microbrewery has the wind at its back and clear sailing ahead in Aurora. In 2013, Dry Dock opened a 30,000 square-foot production facility, “North Dock,” on I-70 and Tower Road where it began canning its Home Fleet beers. In 2014, Dry Dock opened the Canoe Room tasting room at the facility. With the addi-tion of the production facility, the company grew to 24 full-time and 22 part-time employees. The company projects brewing 26,000–32,000 barrels of beer in 2016.
Dry Dock has partnered with their local community, the City of Aurora, in various activities. This hometown business delights in being a part of city events such as Punkin’ Chunkin’. They are quick to lend a hand to local not-for-profit or civic groups in need of support. In 2015, Dry Dock hosted the Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association to discuss how they worked with the City of Aurora and the Aurora-South Metro SBDC to overcome obstacles of starting a small brewery.
Since Dry Dock opened in 2005, the brewery has won 22 Great American Beer Festival medals, making it the most medaled Colorado craft brewery at the competition in the last decade. Dry Dock has also won at least one medal in every World Beer Cup it has entered (five medals total) and 40 awards at the Colorado State Fair.
“Dry Dock has grown tremendously over the past 10 years, and the Aurora-South Metro SBDC has been with us every step of the way,” commented Kevin.