By Emily Kemme
The slogan is painted on the wall of Red Truck Beer Company’s meeting room in the Fort Collins Truck Stop, 1020 E. Lincoln Avenue, Fort Collins. It’s a reminder of generations, connections and the homespun nostalgia of a red truck:
“You never forget your first truck.”
But even with the tongue-in-cheek word slide, and cherry red pops of paint adorning everything from handrails to the Adirondack chairs on the patio, that bright red racing truck parked in the taproom sends a symbolic message — what is more honest than a red truck?
In existence for under a year, with an opening date of August 18, 2018, the handful of folks which includes General Manager Laird Mulderink, Shaun Salyards as Head Brewer, and facilities maintenance manager Russ Richardson has grown to a staff of 34.
Red Truck started in Vancouver in 2005, producing 3,000 barrels a year. Steady growth brought it to 25,000 barrels and a new facility by 2013. The company always sold some beer over the border in Seattle.
But owner Mark James happened to be a Broncos fan, and on a visit to the Front Range heard there was a brewery for sale. After closing the deal, he installed a pilot system with 50 barrels.
Although capable of producing 1550 gallons in a shift, that’s too much to keep fresh, Mulderink said. The brewery also has a 10-barrel system, allowing for 300-gallon batches, which maintains good craft, high revolution brew.
With product control underway, the company considered how it wanted to present itself, deciding the best way to integrate a Canadian company into a Colorado town was to adopt a mantra of community.
Take a moment to visit with Mulderink and you’ll discover an underside of caring if you poke the beast a bit. You don’t have to poke it all that hard. Just take a look at what Red Truck Beer is involved within the Fo community and it’s easy to see.
“We are a people-driven organization that with very little marketing has touched the community in our own way,” Mulderink said. “The key is making grass-roots connections and collaborating on events.” Recently, Red Truck launched their piña colada saison in support of the Pink Boots Society, celebrating women in the brewing industry. The saison, with toasted coconut and pineapple notes, launched on March 8, International Women’s Day. Red Truck also supports Global Leaders, an organization geared toward helping Guatamalan coffee farmers, by producing its Global Leaders (GLIPA) coffee IPA. A portion of sales from both beers are donated to these organizations.
“We move the needle here by sharing with the community. We want to be recognized for being known as sharing and connecting with people. And we bottle liquid fun in cans. The idea is to laugh, slow down and enjoy time together.”
With that in mind, the brewery has stepped up into its 50-barrel system for distribution, creating a unique 8-pack format. The 8-pack cans are offered in six flavors, geared to be clean, light, approachable, repeatable, and comfortable, along with providing good value.
The eighteen beers in the taproom tend to be more experimental. In the recent Collaboration Fest put on by the Colorado Brewers Guild, Red Truck partnered with 1623 Brewing Company, a company with Maryland and Colorado connections, to create a Belgian strong ale, fermented with Pinot Noir grape juice and three different yeast strains. “It’s a big boy at 13% ABV,” Mulderink noted. Another such collaboration is with Fort Collins’ Snowbank Brewing, an orange stout with orange juice and zest, is like an orange chocolate bar.
The taproom offers a spot for taste tests. Compare the Baja and the Vienna — both are Mexican lagers each created from different malts. The Baja has a light roast, caramel clean, refreshing mouthfeel, while the Vienna is softer, with hints of freshly baked bread.
The taproom also provides a comfortable place to get away for a couple of hours. Make a meal of it, with good quality bar food that’s designed to be messy. The menu features eggs all day, hot dogs, burgers, grilled chicken, and sandwiches like a stacked and very messy Reuben.
With its clean, minimalist design, the light, airy taproom imparts a magical experience, a Disneyland for craft beer lovers. Check the website for music events on the Red Truck stage.
Spanning generations, making strong connections — it’s a brand that’s geared toward people. And it’s all brought together with that red truck.