We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Skeels and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Back in 2010 I had first thought of starting up a homebrew shop here in Denver as it seemed to still be on the rise and seemed like a great way to become my own boss. I was homebrewing a decent amount at the time and thought Denver could use a more centrally located shop. A year or so later I met my now business partner who was also homebrewing quite a bit and as the old reliable tale goes a few beers into a night the idea of starting a brewery together was discussed. We enjoyed similar styles, our friends said our beers were good (as per usual, particularly when they’re free…), and there were very few breweries in the Denver area at the time. A couple years later in July of 2014 we opened the doors of Baere, the same weekend as another couple breweries also opened, and the same year that a whole lot of breweries opened across the front range. We were apparently not the only ones with the idea. The short answer though is that the idea of turning something I loved to do as a hobby into something that I did professionally felt dreamy. I had worked in the restaurant industry for a lot of my life, supervised seasonal crews as a forester and worked as a health inspector for a couple years. I felt that these experiences had set me up for running a brewery pretty well. In hindsight, while there were certainly of benefit, I definitely had some blind spot is what it meant to run a business. The learning curve is a long one indeed.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve held a mosaic of seemingly unrelated positions over my years in the workforce from flipping burgers, washing dishes, bussing, serving and bartending to delivering mail, writing for a paper, working as a forester for 5 years with JeffCo, inspecting restaurants for the City of Denver and now running a small craft brewery. It’s been a long and interesting road and I wouldn’t take back any of these experiences. We are lucky to have gotten into the brewing industry when we did and also have often thought it may have been one of the trickier times to get into it, which I think has been one of the most challenging aspects of the past 6.5 years of Baere. The years before Baere opened every taproom was a destination and anyone who was into beer was willing to drive seemingly any distance to go experience local craft beer. The year Baere opened and the following several years there were breweries opening almost every week across the front range with a whole lot of great beer suddenly being produced within walking distance from a lot of people’s homes. Breweries could no longer simply count of the fact that they exist they would thrive and would have to find ways to set themselves apart from one another. We felt our best tact was to stay the course we had laid for ourselves with a slow and organic growth sticking to the two biggest ideals that we never wavered from over the couple years of planning. We wanted Baere to be a place that all people would feel safe and welcome in, a place with a sense of community and a place that people knew they would feel comfortable in. I believe this was the case from the start and still is. We also wanted to brew the absolute best beer we could every single time, take no shortcuts and be able to provide at least one beer that every customer would enjoy. I believe that we have also done this, with the exception of having the most ideal beer for every customer every day, but we’ve come pretty dang close to that as well. These two ideals are the backbone of Baere and will continue to be into the indefinite future.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
What a difficult question. As much as a leisurely time in RINO can really bring out my anxiety, it would be a must for a day since so much of Denver’s scene is happening in that relatively small area, but we would also certainly venture out to all the hidden and not so hidden gems around. Food – I personally do the vegan thing so this definitely dictates and limits the options. Adelitas for Chimichangas, Hop Alley for the best and most authentic Chinese food I’ve found so far, Viva Burrito for drive through burritos with the best tortillas and salsa, Vegan Van food truck for killer fast food clones, Tarasco’s Latin Cuisine for everything on the menu, and Saigon Deli for amazing Banh Mi at ridiculously low prices to name a few favorites. I also built a wood fired pizza oven with my pops this past summer in my backyard, so there’s that too. Drinks – 99% of the drinks I have are beers at places on my way home from Baere and I love what they do and the vibes they provide. Spangalang, Our Mutual Friend, Bierstadt, Cerebral, Comrade, Station 26. Visits – COVID has led my family to finding ways to get out of the house and would certainly include the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, a heron pond over near Commerce City, the Riverside Cemetary and the bike trail running North from Blue Moon. The botanic garden with a couple beers in a backpack is always a great experience as well.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We would most certainly not be here if it wasn’t for our incredible team, The Baere Den, both front and back of house. In the beginning our friends & family would work the bar for free and shortly thereafter work a shift or two a week in addition to their full time jobs. Over the years those that started with us have transitioned our from behind the bar to sitting at the tables to enjoy the beers and we are forever in their debt. When COVID-19 hit Colorado in March of 2020 we had a team totaling of 6 people who were very much responsible for keeping spirits high, being creative with approaching the near-daily changing rules, regulations and concerns, and powering through during what has definitely been the most stressful and challenging time in our 6.5 years of life. We are all closer than we ever imagined we would be having gone through all of this together and I owe them all the shoutouts I can muster.