It was a warm Sunday morning in Midtown. A bartender, just arriving for work, locked his bike outside Maxline Brewing as leaves rustled across the parking lot.
Inside, Maxline Brewing co-owners and spouses Kevin Gearhardt and Cathy Morgan were preparing for their weekly Sunday brunch, an offering of burritos and beer-mosas. Nate, the friendly bartender, began opening large garage doors to a shaded patio.
The couple opened Maxline Brewing this past summer on June 17 at 2724 McClelland Dr. in Unit 190. The couple said they felt that Midtown had been underserved when it came to neighborhood pubs.
“We didn’t want to be in Old Town,” Morgan said. “There are enough breweries down there.”
As a home brewer since the late 1980s, Gearhardt views the business as a culmination of his longtime hobby. He works as an electrical engineer, and as he puts it, would like to eventually “retire into” just running the brewery.
The brewery, named for its adjacency to the Max Bus corridor, was originally built in 1980 as a post office annex. Initially, it was to be named Hardihood, but a trademark dispute with an East Coast brewery forced Gearhardt to change the name before opening.
“We actually like our new name better than the last one,” Gearhardt said. “It’s very ‘Fort Collins.'”
The couple believes Fort Collins has plenty of room to sustain neighborhood pubs, regardless of the large number of breweries in town.
“Where you run into difficulty is if you think you can get into this business and be the next big distribution brewery,” Gearhardt said.
Though you can find Maxline Brewing’s beers on tap at around ten different places in town, Gearhardt and Morgan are focusing less on mass distribution and more on developing the brewery through events, collaboration and fun.
“We’ve been selling so much beer in the tasting room that it’s our first priority to satisfy our customers’ needs,” Morgan said.
The brewery’s website boasts an impressive number of events, from game nights, live music performances and art shows.
In July, Maxline Brewing teamed up with Walrus Ice Cream for a beer and ice cream pairing.
“We had three different ice creams that Walrus made for us, and they made it using our beer,” Gearhardt said.
More recently, they collaborated with Fox and Crow, a cheese shop and bistro, for a beer and cheese pairing.
“It was just lovely,” Morgan said. “We sold out that event.”
Gearhardt said he likes to help out within the brewing community when he can.
“The newest brewery is Intersect,” Gearhardt said. “They needed some ingredients one time, and we were able to help them out with that.”
The community seems to have welcomed Maxline Brewing with open arms. Even before the brewery opened, it began to bring people together.
Gearhardt built the bar and constructed the massive cooler that houses Maxline Brewing’s serving tanks —an alternative to kegs that sets the brewery apart from others. Gearhardt reminisced about one night when he and his friends were working on raising two twenty-foot long wall sections of the cooler.
“They were definitely in the 2000 pound-plus range,” Gearhardt said.
Coincidentally, the neighboring Crossfit gym was holding a class at the time. They were happy to help raise the walls, especially with the offer of a free beer.
“They’ve been coming in ever since,” Morgan laughed. “They’re great people. We love them.”
Morgan and Gearhardt are firm believers in giving back to the community. They support local charities like FoCo Café and donate auction items to Animal House, the Humane Society and the American Cancer Society.
A friend of Gearhardt passed away from cancer just weeks before Maxline Brewing opened, and in his memory and on behalf of his son who has Angelman Syndrome, they donate 10% of the sales of their porter to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation.
The brewery serves up a wide range of American and English style ales, as well as Kombucha, a fermented tea from a company called Happy Leaf in Denver.
Gearhardt, like most brewers, is very experimental.
“The most unusual thing we’ve done so far was a raspberry basil saison, which was a collaboration with Native Hill Farms,” Gearhardt said.
The beer has a light, tart and fruity flavor with a gentle herbal spiciness derived from the Colorado grown basil. Nate, the friendly bartender, described it as a beer that even those who don’t normally like beer would appreciate. Gearhardt said it also makes for a tasty beer-mosa.
“Our most popular beers are probably the West Coast IPA, the ESB and the red,” Gearhardt said.
Brews in progress include a porter infused with coffee beans, a wine barrel aged porter and a peach-whiskey ESB (extra special bitter).
Gearhardt said the breweries in town have been supportive and welcoming.
“It’s a very collaborative community,” Gearhardt said. “We needed some grain and hops one time, and we were able to get some from Black Bottle. Everyone’s really helpful and willing to lend a hand when you need it.”
Maxline Brewing offers a $1 off pints discount for teachers, firefighters, nurses and police officers with identification.
Gearhardt and Morgan said that in the future they might add a small sandwich kitchen to the business if they ever have the opportunity to gain more square footage.
For now, they are just working to further establish Maxline Brewing’s roots over the first year so that eventually, Gearhardt can “retire into” his hobby.
For more information about Maxline Brewing, visit www.maxlinebrewing.com.