It’s not unusual for college buddies to enjoy a few beers together over the years, but a quartet of Colgate grads have made it a decade-long business relationship.
When Denver natives Jarod Clark and Charlie Berger were at Colgate University, they met Andrew Klein and Patrick Crawford through their mutual interests in good data and good beer. Jarod had started a domain software business while he was still in high school and he and Andrew returned to Denver after graduation to form Unleaded Software. Since then, it has grown into a multi-million-dollar full-service web development company that is one of the nation’s leading designers of e-commerce websites.
Patrick’s degree landed him at Lockheed Martin in Denver where he was a physicist and engineer. His home-brewing hobby led him to reunite with Charlie, who had turned his interest in craft beers into a career, working with brewers across the U.S. and honing his skills at top-rated institutions such as the Siebel Institute and the Doemans Brewing Academy in Munich. They started brewing small batches of premium artisan ales and lagers together in their garages and met with enough success that they opened a taphouse named Denver Beer Co. in 2011 in Denver’s booming Platte Valley. Their Graham Cracker Porter recently won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
The brewpub’s design is inspired by the beer gardens of Bavaria where Charlie honed his brewing skills. To meet growing demand for their craft beers, they will open a separate production facility nearby in July, 2014.
According to Patrick and Charlie, “Our brewery is founded on a passion for high quality, flavorfully crafted beer and the belief that the best pints are those shared with good company. We designed Denver Beer Co. to be a place where new and old friends can share a table and pint out of doors.”
From the start, Denver Beer Co. teamed with Jarod and Andrew at the Unleaded Group to design their brand graphics, packaging and interior spaces as well as building the company website. Unleaded's work for DBC has won a Graphic Design USA award and a Denver Mayor's Design Award, and has been featured in numerous design and business publications.
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Unleaded Group’s founding, Charlie and Patrick teamed with DBC’s head taphouse brewer Austin Wiley to design a beer that would symbolize their friends’ success. “We picked a Belgian-style saison, or seasonal farmhouse brew since the anniversary would be in the summer,” Charlie says.
The four friends collaborated in naming the beer “En Route” in keeping with Unleaded’s fuel and travel-related branding. “The name speaks to how far the Unleaded Group has come as a company and team in 10 years, and how much farther we have to go,” Jarod says. “And that we’ve got plenty left in the tank to make the trip.”
“Once we had a name for the beer, we had Andy’s design team at Unleaded create the labels for the bottles,” Patrick adds. The label design features the Unleaded Group logo in a winged medallion above the beer’s name and has callouts to the anniversary and a clever reference to the recent birth of Jarod’s son, Otto. The back label sports a quotation from Jack Kerouac’s cult-classic novel, On the Road.
The brewing of En Route saison began in mid-May with a release date of mid-June, 2014. En Route will be bottled in a classic one-liter swing-stoppered glass porter-style bottle as well being offered on tap at Denver Beer Co.
“When Andrew and I started Unleaded in my house, we always had a keg cooling in the kitchen sink,” Jarod says. “Having this special brew by Charlie and Patrick is a great way to commemorate our friendship and the ‘work hard-play hard’ mentality that has been such a big part in the success of both our businesses.”
For more information about Denver Beer Co., visit their website: