“What did this place used to be?”
It is a common question we get in the tap room. It’s funny how faulty our memories are. We can drive by a place for years and then one day, on our way to work or to the store, we notice a new business has popped up along our route. The first thing we ask ourselves is “what was that before?”. Often times we can’t remember, filed away with the memory of what you ate for lunch yesterday. It becomes an itch that our memory can’t quite scratch. So allow me to scratch that itch for you.
The building that houses our tap room and small batch brewery was built in 1928. It was built as a bottling plant for Dr. Pepper and Orange Crush soda. There is a small tin tacker on the west wall of the taproom that notates that history. It operated that way up until the late 50’s when it was taken over by an individual who had an appliance store on Santa Fe. He used the Renegade building as his warehouse for all the appliances he sold through his storefront. When I opened Renegade, I was paid a visit by that gentleman to see what I had done with the building. He told me that when he took it over in the late 50’s it was full of Dr. Pepper and Orange Crush signage and memorabilia. Signs hung from the rafters and were tacked to the walls. The warehouse itself was full of items. At the time, he considered it all junk and clutter that was in his way, so he threw it all out. Those items would be worth a pretty penny today and he was kicking himself for not hanging on to it.
The appliance store operated into the late 70’s and then closed up shop. At this point, the timeline and history of the building becomes a little more fuzzy but I’ll tell you what I know. There is an oil trap in NW corner of the building under the floor. It was filled with sand at some point, but that tells us that the building was at one time used for auto repair and maintenance.
I know at some point in the history of the building it was used for document storage for a health insurance company – this is obviously prior to the days of everything being digital but I don’t know the exact timeline of that.
It was purchased in early 2008 by the current landlords. They had planned to turn it into artist lofts, with galleries on the lower level and living space on a second level they planned to build. However, when the financial crisis happened they scratched the plans to build and decided to offer the space for lease as it was.
Enter me in 2010. When I was looking to open Renegade, I hired a man named Eric Warner who was working as a brewery consultant at the time. Eric, started a brewery in Colorado back in the 90’s called Tabernash. Tabernash was later sold to Left Hand Brewing Company and Eric became the CEO of Flying Dog. When Flying Dog left for Maryland, Eric became a consultant. After that he moved to Texas and started Karbach brewing. However, the important part of this story is that Eric’s landlord, when he owned Tabernash, happened to be the company that owns the building Renegade is now housed in. So, Eric made the introduction to the space. When I saw it, it had been boarded up for 2+ years and was a graffiti billboard. The building was completely gutted of electricity and plumbing and the roof leaked – and I loved it. Something about that old building spoke to me and told me that was the home for Renegade.
I signed the lease in December 2010 and started construction in March 2011. We opened the doors in June 2011. Many people think that I simply put in a glass garage door where there was already a garage door, but that was not the case. I had the front of the building totally redone. We cut the doors into the side of the building to access the alley for deliveries. We dug up the floor to put in plumbing and we brought in brand new electrical service from the pole. It was a major job, but my vision came to life. I still love that old building and our home in it. It is one of the most unique spaces for a brewery and the neighborhood that surrounds it is full of art and culture.
So, next time you are sitting in the taproom sipping a Redacted, you now know what it used to be and the long journey the building has been on to eventually become a spot for you to enjoy some offensively delicious beer.