Early on, Matthew Fuerst decided his brewery would be different.
He wouldn’t fill the space with exposed brick or sleek stools or wooden beams or the overall “industrial vibe” you might picture when you think of a craft brewery.
“That look was becoming kind of cookie cutter,” he said. “I thought it had been overdone.”
So Fuerst went in the opposite direction.
He wanted the place to feel homey and comfortable. He wanted it to feel like a fisherman-themed brewery he visited where everyone sat around in rocking chairs.
He thought, “Who doesn’t want to just sit in a rocking chair and drink a beer?”
Thinking about comfort and warmth and rocking chairs, a name for the brewery came to mind: Grandma’s House. And it stuck.
“When you have as many breweries as we do, we’re all trying to set ourselves apart,” he said. “Having good beer is not enough.”
Grandma’s House opened in October 2014, and the number of breweries in Denver keeps rising. The city is home to nearly 150 breweries, according to the Denver Microbrew Tour’s website.
But there’s nowhere like Grandma’s House, which is decked out with all the trinkets, knick knacks, figurines, obscure board games, quilts and cross-stitched signs that you might find in the house of a grandmother who keeps everything she buys and still has the same couch she bought in the 1970s. “You could call me a collector or, more accurately, a hoarder,” Fuerst said. “So this lent well to that.”
The taproom’s aesthetic is not inspired by any one grandma, Fuerst says, but a collection of stereotypes and ideas borrowed from friends who he asked, “What was your grandma’s house like?”
Walking into the brewery that’s in the heart of the historic Antique Row stretch of South Broadway, you see all those little details come to life. There’s the ugly (sorry, grandma) couch in front of the old TV. There’s a couple sitting on the couch playing an old video game and there’s a stack of VHS tapes nearby, ranging from “The Godfather” series to “Grease.” There’s stacks of board games with a handwritten note saying, “Please be kind to the board games.”
And there’s the bar, decorated to resemble a treehouse sort of thing. Behind the bar is a sight that’s dreamy for any lover of the eclectic. There are shelves full off colorful figurines that you could look at all day and still find something new. Think bobble heads and puppets and trolls and a sign that reads, “Quit yer belly achin!”
There’s also a self-portrait of Fuerst’s grandmother, Franca, whose paintings are sprinkled around the brewery.
“That’s one of the only authentic things,” he said. “It wasn’t meant to be an homage to my own grandmother.”
It was meant to be a different kind of brewery.
To be different, again, Fuerst purposefully left “brewery” out of his brewery’s name. So some customers who just pop into Grandma’s House don’t always know what it is at first. They often mistake it for a thrift store.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that Grandma’s House sells thrifted clothes. That was Fuerst’s idea for merchandise. Since he thrifts weekly anyway, he puts Grandma’s House patches on plaid shirts or hoodies to sell.
Since opening, the theme has opened up unique doors. They host events like “foul-mouthed cross stitching,” bingo nights and pottery painting each week. They see customers of all ages, including people who say they wouldn’t normally hang out at a brewery.
“We figured out that we’re not a sports bar, so it doesn’t make sense to have football watch parties,” he said. “
It’s taken off enough for Grandma’s House to expand during the pandemic, adding a huge outdoor patio space. And a second location is coming soon to Trinidad.
“I didn’t know whether or not people would want to drink beer at a place called Grandma’s House,” Fuerst said. “But what we’ve created is warm and inviting and that brings people in.”