Andy and Alyssa France were cruising around northeast Colorado Springs about two years ago when they spotted a vacant storefront that looked like the perfect spot for their dream brewery.

Alyssa called the number on the sign, and when the Realtor asked what kind of business she and her husband were starting, Alyssa told him it was a bakery.

Say you’re opening a brewery in Colorado Springs, and you don’t have to say it loud, or twice, for word to get out.

“We had been talking about it for a long time and passively building a business plan, putting together plans and scoping out equipment ... but we weren’t ready to tell anyone yet,” Andy said.

Pikes Pub: Fountain finally will get a brewery thanks to Peaks N Pines

But when the real estate broker began asking more questions — what kind of baked goods would they be selling? — Alyssa caved and admitted they’d be brewing beer.

“He said, ‘I actually have a really good spot you guys should look at,’” Alyssa said. “It wasn’t even really listed yet. That was this place.”

“This place” is in The Peak Lifestyle Center, a retail strip devoted to and inspired by the Colorado zeitgeist: sports and rec, wellness and — come Saturday’s grand opening of Lost Friend Brewing — craft beer.

“We liked her vision for the center, and the collection of complementary businesses,” said Andy, whose neighbors include CrossFit 719, Epic Mountain Sports, Bicycle Village and Peak Place coffee shop.

For the pair of longtime homebrewers, the grand opening will mark both their professional brewing debut and a moment of tasting truth on a (slightly) bigger scale.

“We basically put a commercial-size and -quality system in the garage five years ago,” Andy said. “We were just cranking out more than was reasonable for a homebrew setup, so we started serving friends, having parties. Everybody was enjoying it while we were learning more and more about how to make real beer.”

The 3,600-square-foot space, a former exercise and dance studio, has a customer area that can hold up to 99 people and the brewhouse has a 10-barrel system plus a one-barrel system devoted to one-offs and experimentals. ”We also plan to offer custom one-barrel batches for people for special occasions, like weddings and reunions,” Andy said.

The couple’s parents also are partners in the business, and Andy’s dad, Marty, joined in to help build the appointments inside Lost Friend — tap handles to tables to poured concrete countertop, which Andy and Marty created and finished themselves.

The name “lost friend” comes from the couple’s “uncanny” ability to find and return wandering pooches to their owners. Andy said he plans to partner with local animal rescue groups, and other nonprofits, for fundraising and awareness events.

“We’re really just going for a comfortable, neighborhood, community feel, somewhere between a bar and a coffee shop,” Andy said. “We want people to come in here and feel comfortable working, like they would at a coffee shop, but be able to have a beer at the same time and see where that beer is made.”

The brewery will rely on food truck fare and ultimately will have 12 taps pouring a range of beer styles.

”For the grand opening, we’ll have 10 beers for sure on tap, with the equivalent of about 12,000 pints,” Andy said. “We’ve been doing the math, and we shouldn’t sell out ... but if we can, that’d be great.”

Reporter

Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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