Brewers Association

Tom Hennessy

Tom Hennessy of Colorado Boy enjoys giving back to the craft brewing community.

Tom Hennessy of Colorado Boy enjoys giving back to the craft brewing community.

What’s your current position at Colorado Boy Pub and Brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I am the owner (along with my wife, Sandy) and head brewer. I started my first brewery in 1993 called Il Vicino in Albuquerque because a friend told me it would be easy to add a brewery to my wood oven pizza place. It wasn't, but I got the bug and then moved to Salida, Colo. and opened another one. A couple of years after, I opened another one in Colorado Springs. I sold the company to my partners in 1999. In 2003 we moved to Palisade [Colo.] and opened a manufacturing brewery. I found out I hate bottling and sold that one in 2005, then moved to Ridgway [Colo.], but didn't open Colorado Boy (named after a mine in Ouray) until 2008.

What’s new at your brewery?

We have started a pub school. In 1995 I made a video called Frankenbrew that taught how to build a brewery on the cheap using used dairy equipment and Grundy's. Now we take one student at a time, and they spend a week with us brewing, doing the books, and running the business. We design their brewery with them and give them all the systems and recipes they need to open their own small brewery.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

I'm sure everyone gives the same answer, but it is the fraternity. I have consistently been blown away by the openness of fellow brewers to help me whenever I have needed it. That is part of the reason I have tried to help other brewers starting out. I feel privileged to be a part of this thing.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

Sandy and I like to travel, go to national parks (we work as rangers part-time), hike and camp. Sailing, of course, but right now we are boat-less.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

At this point I would say a grilled Reuben with a cask Irish Ale. Simple and satisfying.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

I got the opportunity to sail our boat by myself from Cabo San Lucas to San Francisco via the offshore route. It was 2,500 miles and 29 days. Something broke on the boat every day, but I loved it.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

First would be Schaefer in a can. Of course nothing can beat a Guinness.

What’s the most exotic travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

We were hiking in Sikkim, India in 1995 and decided to visit the local brewery, Yuksom Brewing Co. They were not interested in giving us a tour until I told them I owned a brewery in the U.S. Next thing, the head brewer and the lab guy show up and give us a complete and long tour. We ended up drinking beer out of beakers in the lab and left with as much beer as we could carry. Remember what I said about the fraternity?

 

 

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