Stronger Together: Copper Kettle Brewing Company and the Power of Community
There's nothing quite like drinking a frothy beer in your home state. Copper Kettle Brewing Company knows that, but they also know your beer tastes a lot better when you drink it in good company.
The new partnerships, relationships, and friendships we have found with all of these Colorado businesses have driven us to dig deeper, and get down to the nitty-gritty with one of our new partners! We had a chance to sit down with Kristen Kozik, one of the owners of Copper Kettle Brewing Company, to discuss her philosophy, mission, and inspired community leadership.
Kristen moved to Denver from North Carolina in 2009 to work as a nurse at the Children’s Hospital. Her husband, Jeremy Gobien, was still in North Carolina, studying to attain a PhD in material science engineering. Shortly after earning his PhD, he followed Kristen to Denver. For Jeremy, it was a difficult time to find a job in his field, so the couple took all of their savings and boldly invested it to start a close-to-home, local brewery.
Started in 2011, Copper Kettle Brewing Company was born out of passion and opportunity. Upon arrival to Denver, Kristen and Jeremy’s home-brewing hobby snowballed into a thriving local business. What began with a young couple and a meager ten-gallon brewing station has blossomed into Denver’s ten thousand square foot beer drinker’s paradise.
What’s their secret to success? It comes down to something very basic that a lot of the world has forgotten: caring for their community.
Kristen and Jeremy strive to maintain harmony between work and their personal lives. Raising children, running a brewery, and working at a hospital would be a lot to juggle for anyone. However, the couple has a steadfast commitment to maintaining a healthy balance, which has resulted in fun and creativity at work and at home. On the Copper Kettle website, their titles are ‘Dad with the Vacuum’ and ‘Superwoman/Signer of Checks.’ We asked Kristen to give us a bit more detail about these awesome nicknames, to which she replied, “I’m just laughing because I’ve literally never even seen Jeremy hold a vacuum in his life.” Inspired by Jeremy’s newness to fatherhood at the time, the Copper Kettle IPA cans have an image of a man holding an infant while vacuuming. The graphic was designed to market the perfect beer for the ‘stay-at-home-dad.’ Kristen, the Copper Kettle ‘Superwoman,’ works three jobs and helps raise two young kids. She is willing to do anything at any time for the brewery. In the early days of Copper Kettle, Kristen, at forty-one weeks pregnant, was scrubbing the parking lot with a bristle brush after a pig roast. In her words, “Somebody’s gotta do it.” The level of dedication to their brewing company, family, and community is unmatched, proving that hard work and balance yield success.
Through grit and unwavering dedication, Copper Kettle Brewing Company has garnered a high level of credibility to back up their name. In 2011, they were awarded their first Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival for pioneering the Mexican Chocolate Stout. At the time, there was only one bartender working for Copper Kettle. She called Kristen and Jeremy, who were at the Convention Center for the beer festival, and relayed an S.O.S.
“We both headed back [to the brewery], and it was absolutely packed like a mosh pit in there. We walked in the door, and everybody turned around and just started clapping... It was our whole community saying ‘we’re behind you two, and we’re proud of you.’”
The loyalty shared between Kristen and Jeremy and their customers would be the driving force behind the future success of the brewery and taproom. Since their first gold medal, Copper Kettle has expanded twice, won another gold medal for their Belgian Blonde Ale, successfully launched distribution throughout the state of Colorado, and started a variety of inspirational, community-driven events like the Chili Cook-Off and the “A Night to Remember” Beer Festival.
The “A Night to Remember” Beer Festival is inspired by a young man who tragically passed away in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre shooting. Kristen considers this festival to be one of Copper Kettle’s greatest accomplishments. She said, “It allowed everyone to reunite and have a positive outlook on what happened that day….Every single person knew why they were there... It was a chance for us all, as a community, to not forget.” Tragedy has a funny way of bringing people together, and as community leaders, Copper Kettle created “A Night to Remember” to bring some peace and positivity to those affected by the shooting. Togetherness and remembrance are the beating heart of the festival. It is a testament to how much stronger people can be when they work through things alongside one another.
The young man for whom “A Night to Remember” was created held the twenty-eighth position in the Copper Kettle Brew Club, a group of Copper Kettle loyalists who have been drinking with Kristen and Jeremy since their grass-roots come-up. Originally, the Brew Club was made up of the first fifty people to drink fifty beers at Copper Kettle. “Everyone wanted to become a Brew Club member,” said Kristen. “I’d say 65-70% of the [Brew Club] members are still original members from year one…. When they walk in the door, they know everybody at the bar.” Upon induction, new Brew Club members receive a twenty-five ounce stein from Copper Kettle. They get to taste new beers before anyone else, receive a continued fifty percent discount, and accompany Kristen and Jeremy to group events throughout the year. “It’s definitely encompassed that local neighborhood feel,” says Kristen, “even if we’re getting bigger, they still have that Brew Club membership that they’re a part of.” The brewery continues to grow, but the small community foundation on which it was built remains true.
Today, we may not be able to go warm up a barstool and start drinking our way towards a Brew Club membership. We may not be able to high five the guy drinking next to us, share a laugh, and swap a smile in the taproom. We may not be able to tip our bartenders for a good chat. We may not have the social contact we desire, but in lieu of all the ‘may not’s,’ Kristen said, “We don’t live in a society where we’re individuals. We live in a society where we have to work together.” We may not be together physically, but we can still be together as a community. This is something that Copper Kettle Brewing Company has been doing since day one. They care about everyone who walks through their door and take the time to get to know you and your story. At Handoff, we are incredibly proud and humbled to be partnered with a company who’s beer is just as great as their outlook on life. Get on the Handoff app, and get down to Copper Kettle to pick up some delectably frothy beers and ear-to-ear smiles from the employees. Times may be tough, but Kristen, Jeremy and everyone at Copper Kettle have figured out that we, together, are tougher.