In 2003, Jeff Crabtree started dabbling in homebrewing. Shortly after, the Union Colony Brewery—the only brewery in the industrial farm community of Greeley, Colorado—went out of business. Bitten by the brewing bug, Jeff got a loan and snapped up Union's brewing equipment. At the time, Jeff was studying business at the local college, and with commercial brewing ambitions on his mind, and a significant amount of commercial brewing equipment in storage, he used his degree assignments to explore the viability of operating a local brewery.
After graduating, Jeff hedged his bets and took a job in the corporate world, and started Crabtree Brewing as a side project in a gritty corner of Greeley. For the first few years he focused on brewing the beers he thought the local community would want. Progress was slow, and some frustration followed. The tipping point came when Jeff decided to work full time at the brewery, and brew only the beers that he wanted to.
Today, Crabtree's beers are distributed throughout Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas. Jeff is a brewer fascinated by all styles of beer and thinks nothing of routinely brewing the likes of a braggot, a saison, or a Berliner Weisse in between batches of the brewery's year round staples. Many of Jeff's beers find their way into some of the many spirit and wine barrels that dominate a large corner of the brewery tasting room. Crabtree is also the first brewery in Colorado to take advantage of a new mobile canning service to cost effectively get 16-ounce cans of its beers to market.
Jeff will shortly be announcing some significant expansion plans for Crabtree, including the construction of a much larger tasting room.
We visited Jeff at Crabtree early on a Saturday morning just as the tap room opened and he was kind enough to take us on a tour and make sure that we didn't leave until we had tasted all of his creations. Check out the slideshow for snapshots of our morning at the brewery.
Tap Room: Open Monday to Thursday 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 1:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.. Growlers, bottles, and cans are available to go.