Volume No. 15 Issue No. 8 August 2018  

  Black Forest brewpub, mug club and running club

     U.S. Air Force Col. Donovan Routsis retired in September 2017, and then pursued his dream of owning a brewery, which opened March 22 in Black Forest.
   Routsis had been searching for a place to open his microbrewery. He found his spot at 11590 Black Forest Road. “I knew the minute I walked into the place that this is where the brewery would be.” The space used to be a coffee shop, with a fireplace and painted raised trees on the wall; the shelving behind the bar is made from reclaimed wood from the 2013 Black Forest fire.
   The Black Forest Brewery is a true brewpub, where the beer is made and sold on the premises. Bags of hops are stacked in plain view and the backroom brewing space is visible through windows. “The windows are so that people can look through and see what everything looks like, but no one can actually touch the kettles in case they are hot,” Routsis said. The fermenters are named after his wife and two daughters.
   Because the wastewater system is limited, he will stay small — and the leftover waste products, like the hops, are given to the Black Forest Meadery for their sheep, he said.
   Routsis serves 10 house beers on tap, soon to be 11. He also serves Holidaily gluten-free beer from Golden, Colorado; 3 Hundred Days of Shine moonshine from Monument, Colorado; Cockpit Craft spirits from Colorado Springs; wine from Sette Dolori Winery in Black Forest and mead from Black Forest Meadery. Local restaurants provide food, and Chef Eric of Boz Catering LLC often puts on brunches for the brewery, Routsis said.
   He started a mug club based on the German tradition, the Stammtisch, which is an informal group of people who get together to socialize. Routsis said he had 100 mugs made up when he opened — people could buy one and become part of the mug club. The mugs are placed on shelves above the bar, with each member’s name below the mug. Watercolor paintings by one club member, Paul “Gilby” Gilbertson, decorate the walls at the brewery.
   Another club member, Jason Daily, wanted to start a running club at the brewery. Routsis said, “It’s based on the Volksmarch in Germany where families, friends or individuals walk through the forests and pick up sticks to keep the underbrush area clean.” Sometimes, they have picnics or stop at a restaurant afterward. Daily and his family make signs so people know where to run, he said. One fun sign shows a bird with his beak pointing the way. The runs are 3.2 miles or a 5K, along with a 1-mile walk. The running club meets every Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and everyone is welcome to join them. However, Routsis said, “The trail is not paved, it is a bit challenging, and there are hills, so if you bring your family or a stroller, make sure it’s meant for off-trail paths.”
   On July 19, several people gathered for the weekly run, despite temperatures in the high 80s. People stayed after the run to enjoy food, libations and social time.
   Roustis said he plans to host a trivia night and have three mug club functions a year. Board games also provide family fun.
   The relationships he has developed are not only with customers but also with Black Forest businesses.
   “We close at 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and I encourage my patrons to head over to The Chicken Coop across the street, and my staff often go over and dance,” he said. “We work with Black Forest Pies & Grinders, and the patrons can order pizza from them; and they will deliver it here to the pub. We have participated in activities with R&R Coffee Café, and support Black Forest Together.”
   The brewery will have a float in the Black Forest Festival and participate in the outhouse race, Routsis said. After the festival, the brewery is having an “adult pine derby race,” he said.
   To accommodate more families, Routsis bought the space next door and is renovating it. “I didn’t like it when families would come and there would be no room or it would be too noisy, so when the space next door became available, I bought it. … We will have family style tables and benches on that side.”
   In the early 90s, Roustis was stationed at Peterson Air Force Base. “Military is our family; and, when I retired, I wanted to be somewhere where I could help build community,” he said. “I want this business to be about the community, the gathering place.”
   For more information on Black Forest Brewing Co., visit their Facebook page.
After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, Col. Donovan Routsis pursued his dream of owning a micro-brewery, which opened March 22 in Black Forest.
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