Colorado Brewery Booming During Bust

It's often said that beer is recession proof, and the Dry Dock Brewery near Denver seems to be proving that. Kirk Siegler of member station KUNC reports.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And near Denver, the Dry Dock Brewery has been expanding. The company took advantage of a provision in last year's stimulus bill that waves closing costs on small business loans. It used the extra money to buy a new fermenter so it could brew more beer. Kirk Siegler of member station KUNC reported last fall on the brewery's success, and he has this update.

KIRK SIEGLER: The stimulus bill created one whole job at the Dry Dock Brewing Company.

Ms. ERIN SCHUMAN(ph) (Tapper Manager, Dry Dock Brewing): My name is Erin Schuman. I am the tapper manager here at Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, Colorado.

SIEGLER: But even just one job is kind of a big deal, because the brewery has less than a dozen employees, and Schuman isn't taking it for granted.

Ms. SCHUMAN: I was very excited to be able to get a job in this tight economy, because everybody right now is trying to get any job they can, and that means going into the restaurant business when it might not necessarily be what they also do. So, yay.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGLER: Owner Kevin DeLange is also beaming, and he knows that the same can't be said for many other small businesses right now.

Mr. KEVIN DELANGE (Owner, Dry Dock Brewery): We feel lucky that we've been able to grow in this economic environment. We are starting to see it a lot more with our customers lately, more of our regulars getting laid off, losing their jobs. But we are fortunate that given that, we were still able to expand the business, and everything's been going great.

SIEGLER: It's often said that beer is recession-proof, and Dry Dock seems to be proving that. Beer sales have more than doubled since this time last year, and that has DeLange eyeing another expansion. He wants to open a second tap room closer to downtown Denver.

Mr. DELANGE: I wouldn't be surprised if come mid-late summer, I'm starting to itch to do something else and we start moving on.

SIEGLER: And should he expand, DeLange says he'd take a closer look at President Obama's latest proposed tax credit for small businesses, though on its face, he's not sure $5,000 is much of an incentive for a business to create a whole new position.

Mr. DELANGE: I do think it might be just enough to push somebody over the edge. If they were thinking about it anyways, they were just about to create a new job, this might be just enough to push them over the edge and make them hire that person where they might have waited.

SIEGLER: The tax credit is just a proposal right now. And DeLange knows it's a long ways away from money in his pocket.

For NPR News, I'm Kirk Siegler in Denver.

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