Customer Spotlight: Freshcraft

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Given Denver’s notoriety as an elite beer city, it takes a lot to be placed at the forefront of taproom destinations. Since launching in 2010, that is what Freshcraft has achieved via mastering the fundamentals of serving upscale comfort food in a casual atmosphere. The fact that they curate 26 excellent taps doesn’t hurt. The brothers behind this gathering well, Lucas, Aaron, and Jason Forgy, “envisioned Freshcraft as a place that we would like to hang out in with great beer and food,” said Jason. The latter part entails a diverse menu—thanks to Lucas, the executive chef—that ranges from small bites such as meatloaf sliders to full plates including a delectable pork schnitzel with caper mustard cream sauce. But there’s a reason Jason mentioned beer first. It’s the draft selections, heavy on Colorado favorites like Avery, Odell, Funkwerks, and Great Divide, that patrons really sink their teeth into.

Selecting beers to put on tap, said Jason, is “a collaborative process. We do have a beer manager, Matt Meyer, that makes the day-to-day decisions. We have a framework that we work within where we try to make sure that we balance the draft offering stylistically in addition to highlighting brewer partners that have shown us a lot of support.  Beyond that, we drink a lot of beer and listen to what other people are saying.”

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One of the primary things patrons are saying is that they love the way those beers are presented. “The display is much more visually appealing than the chalkboard that we had used previously and has actually become one of the primary discussion points for customers at the bar,” revealed Jason. “We use Taplister to manage our display of draft beers at the bar in our restaurant as well as for content management online. Taplister streamlines the process of keeping everything updated—in house display, website, Twitter, and Facebook. I would say that on average it saves our managers 15 minutes or more each day, which definitely adds up when you consider that we are open 360 days annually.”

The days of operation may be year-long but the menus, both food and beers, certainly reflect Freshcraft’s penchant for seasonality. Although there’s plenty of comfort food options of the fried cheese and fried pickles ilk, it’s the fresh, in-season vegetable offerings including and beyond salads that keep vegetarians coming back. The knowledgeable staff is always happy to recommend beer pairings.

Belying Freshcraft’s acumen, Jason likens the tap list to “(catching) a tiger by the tail.” Not that scoring kegs of Crooked Stave’s three-year-old vintage of Petite Sour, or Russian River’s ultra-fresh Pliny the Elder, comes around by dumb luck or using the eeny-meany-miny-moe method. “The variety of beer offerings definitely has changed the way that we manage our beer offerings; we can be very picky.”

Another word might be deliberate. It’s what you’d expect from a publican who, when outlining the pub’s daily checklist, included “cleaning” twice even before summarizing, “It’s very important to us to have a clean and friendly environment where people of all walks of life are comfortable. Our hope is that appeals to everyone, not just beer geeks”

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Freshcraft’s prime LoDo location helps usher in that diverse crowd, but the Forgys may one day bring their fresh-from-scratch recipes to diners and imbibers in other locations according to Jason. Until then, pay Freshcraft a visit at 1530 Blake, Suite #A.

Brian Yaeger is the author of Oregon Breweries and Red, White, & Brew. When he’s not drinking beer or writing about it, he welcomes beer trippers to Portland at his bed’n’beer, Inn Beervana.

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