Dust and the smell of paint fill the air, while workers scurry to and fro in the effort to make a brewery out of the former Ivywild Elementary School into a brewery. But inside the new tasting room, all is right with the world.
Bristol Brewing Co. is in the midst of a $4 million renovation project, moving its brewery from a block away into the school building. Brewing is expected to begin soon on the first batches of beer.
The tasting room was the first part of the project completed, so rather than wait for everything else, owner Mike Bristol held a stealth opening Tuesday.
From the outside, the 1604 S. Cascade Ave. location looks open to nobody but construction workers and building inspectors. Turn a right at the entrance, where generations of school children tramped into class, and you’ll find the tasting room.
A large, oval-like bar fills the room, surrounded by tables, a welcome change from the often-crowded tap room of yore on Tejon Street. Large glass windows look out from above into the two-story brewery, and there’s a customer balcony for those who want a closer look or sniff of hops.
Red brick walls give the room an older feel, and when contrasted with the ultra-modern bar, it has the feel of a classy martini bar.
A rooftop patio facing east, not yet completed, adjoins the tasting room. Other features, including a coffee and cocktail bar in the old principal’s office, a deli, bakery and event center/concert hall in the gymnasium, will take longer to complete.
Ivywild was one of seven schools closed in 2009 by Colorado Springs School District 11 due to declining enrollment. Once beer lovers get a look at the tasting room, I have a feeling getting people in won’t be a problem.