Longmont's Pumphouse Brewery celebrates 20th anniversary

By Charlie Howard and Shay Castle

Staff Writers

Link to Story: Here

Dominique McKee delivers chips and salsa to Debbie Balsley, center, and Christine Wright at the Pumphouse Brewery & Restaurant, 540 Main St., Friday afternoon. (  Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer  )

Dominique McKee delivers chips and salsa to Debbie Balsley, center, and Christine Wright at the Pumphouse Brewery & Restaurant, 540 Main St., Friday afternoon. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

If you go

What: Pumphouse Brewery 20th Anniversary Loyalty Days

When: July 11-24

Mondays: Kids 12 and under eat free

Tuesdays: 10 percent of the day's sales go to Longmont Humane Society (July 12) and Children's Colorado Foundation (July 19).

Wednesdays and Thursdays: TBA drink specials

Friday-Sunday: $3 Pumphouse drafts, open to close

Where: 540 Main St.

More: Every visit, patrons can enter their names into a drawing for prizes, including a two-night stay in Breckenridge; a Denver Broncos Viewing Party (includes a $250 tab); Pumphouse & Red Zone Gift Cards ($100, $200, $300) and brewery V.I.P. Cards good for yearlong beer discounts.

If it were a person, Longmont's Pumphouse Brewery would be not quite old enough to drink.

But there will be plenty of beer, booze and other brews to go around during the two-week celebration of the brewery's 20th anniversary, kicking off Monday.

The brewery, 540 Main St., was founded in 1996 after four engineers — Craig Taylor, Tom Charles, Dave D'Epagnier and Dennis Coombs (yes, that Dennis Coombs, Longmont's mayor) — were laid off from their jobs in the aerospace industry and decided to take a chance on their home brew hobby.

"We all just wanted to do something entirely different," said co-founder D'Epagnier.

They bought the historical William Lugg Building, so named for the prominent local business man during the early 1900s when the structure was built. Despite the restaurant's firehouse theme, that was one of the many uses the building never saw: Pre-Pumphouse, it was home to a variety of different car garages and dealerships as well as a roller-skating rink.

When the brewery opened in May 1996, there was only one other brewpub in town: the Overland Stage Brewing Company, which closed shortly after opening.

"It was nip and tuck those first few years because brewpubs were not that popular back then," D'Epagnier recalled. "There weren't many restaurants or much liveliness and there were a lot of vacancies."

"The Pumphouse was kind of a revelation," added Greg Tafel, who moved his family to Longmont from Elizabeth in 1985. "There really wasn't much going on. It was a good family town but if you wanted to do something, you had to go to Boulder, Fort Collins or Denver."

Now, of course, the downtown area is lined with bars and restaurants. But despite the increased competition, the Pumphouse, its patio and the adjacent Red Zone sports bar stay full most nights and weekends.

"They've been a leader not only in the craft-brewing industry but how to do a fabulous restaurant on downtown Main Street," said Kimberlee McKee, executive director of Longmont Downtown Development Authority. "Even today, it's one of the most identifiable places downtown.

"The fact that for 20 years it's been as successful as it has really shows their commitment to the community."

The establishment's owners are giving back to the community that's supported them for two decades with two weeks of "loyalty days" featuring discounted beer and food and drawings for various prizes. Both Tuesdays will be "give-back nights," at which the restaurant will host fundraisers for the Longmont Humane Society (Tuesday) & Children's Colorado Foundation (July 19).

"We're trying to pay back the community for all the support they've given us," said general manager Ross Hagen. "It's hard to stay in business for 20 years. They've seen us through a lot of growth. We couldn't have done it without them, so it's just nice to say thank you."