It’s all about perspective, and Woody Briggs is bringing a fresh dose of that to his military themed Brass Brewing Co., on track to open in mid-March in the space formerly occupied by Triple S Brewing in downtown Colorado Springs.
Briggs’ new angle starts – or will start, in more temperate weather – with how patrons enter the easternmost unit at 318 E. Colorado Ave. The big southern window is getting garage-door treatment (all the cool new breweries have ’em) and will open to reconfigured customer space and a new, expanded bar on the north wall.
"With all that happening around us, we just really wanted to open it up," said Briggs, gesturing across the street to 333 ECO, a 171-unit development of "urban lifestyle" apartments and amenities meant to appeal to residents who want a short walk or bike ride to bars, restaurants and other downtown attractions. The first units are expected to open in July.
"In the summer, we’ll leave the garage door open and draw in that crowd," Briggs said.
A negative impact on business due to ongoing construction, on multiple sides, was one reason Triple S owner Steve Stowell cited in deciding to sell last August, after almost two years there.
"He saw that as a problem when he was still here. But that’s why I was actually trying to get a spot downtown, to be close to all this," said Briggs.
He and his wife and business partner, Kellee, had been discussing a lease at 9 S. Weber St. – now home to the nonprofit Pikes Peak Market – when plans fell through last year. Around that time, Stowell reached out to say he planned to pull up stakes.
Briggs said he "jumped" at the opportunity to buy the business, taking over the lease in the historic building Sept. 1.
The Ohio native said he fell in love with Colorado Springs when he was deployed out of Fort Carson. After a 16-year career in the Army, Briggs was free to choose where he wanted to live, and he and Kellee, a West Point graduate and Army veteran, decided to settle in the Springs. Briggs closed a seven-year career as a Colorado State Patrol trooper last fall to focus on a long-time dream of starting a small business that would let him celebrate multiple passions.
"On this wall, we’ll have the main Brass Brewing sign. And around it, the goal is to have the 13 five-star generals’ portraits," said Briggs, a military history major at Ohio State. "This wall will slowly get covered with photos of family, friends, people that served, and people will have the ability to put a portrait up here. When you walk in, you’ll just see faces everywhere."
Veteran homebrewers Kevin Glaspie and Brian Faulkner, who’ve been training at Launch Pad Brewery in Aurora, are in charge of beer-making at Brass, which will have five flagships. No food will be prepared on site, but Briggs says he’s working on a partnership with El Taco Rey, the restaurant two doors to the east.
Down the line, Briggs said he hopes to open part of the ceiling and add stairs to a rooftop deck. He’s also looking into options to expand the brewery’s very limited, dedicated parking options, another reason for the squeeze that Stowell said compelled him to close.
"We’ve got some things we’re working on … and on weekdays, we’re opening at 3 p.m. So that’s only three hours of metered parking people have to worry about," Briggs said.
He and his wife chose not to bring on investors, but they did get a crowdfunding boost, primarily to upgrade the seven-barrel system brewhouse. An ongoing KickStarter campaign launched Jan. 30 raised its $10,000 goal in just four days and is creeping toward a "stretch goal" of $15,000.
Briggs said he aims to soft-open the brewery March 15, in time for celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness.
"Our theme is ‘military brass,’ and we’ve got several large-screen TVs and a projector, but we’re not a sports bar," he said. "We want a place where everyone can feel comfortable, whether they’re in the military, a veteran, law enforcement or not. Hopefully we’ll wow you with our beer. That’s the goal."
The Gazette’s Rich Laden contributed to this report.