For a town that thrives on craft beers and is home to many successful breweries, another alcohol-based craft has begun to grow.
Tucked into the Scotch Pines Village off of Drake Road and Lemay Avenue, Elevation 5003 is a new family-owned neighborhood distillery, and CSU alumna Loren Matthews is the smiling face behind it all.
“I got into the industry brewing beer and was brewing manager at Anheuser Busch for 15 years,” Matthews said. “I started distilling about five years ago and fell in love with it. There’s a really nice, fine balance that comes with distilling. Scientifically, it hits my interest points, but culturally, the alcohol industry is fun.”
The small tasting room is framed with high windows in the front and the back, allowing for a full view of the production area, where the magic happens.
“It’s been a ride,” Matthews said. “We’ve been busy, and I think the best part is that I love coming out here and talking to the customers. The idea behind the taste room is to have customers be able to come in and see the production area. We are a grain to glass or grain to bottle distillery — we do it all, and I’m proud of that part.”
Elevation had its grand opening earlier this month, and Matthews said it was a success.
“The opening was crazy and a ton of fun,” Matthews said. “We’ve had this space for a while, and it’s a great location. A lot of people have been waiting for us to open.”
Other distilleries in town had great things to say about Elevation 5003.
“I think Elevation will be an excellent addition to the lively craft culture in Fort Collins,” Jason Hevelone, president and “inspired distiller” at CopperMuse Distillery, wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Loren and Ray bring a wealth of experience and knowledge from their brewing backgrounds. I expect they will be very well-received.”
Serving cocktails with simple yet delicious ingredients like the Lavender Sour, Colorado Mule and the Salty Road, Matthews said she believes Elevation 5003 will be a great fit for Fort Collins craft culture and a great addition to the southeast side of town.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for craft distilleries, and I think there will be a lot more to come to Fort Collins,” Matthews said. “The southeast side of Fort Collins is also growing, and I think a lot of people will come this direction.”
According to Matthews, the first in rotation of Elevation spirits is the Narrow Road vodka — an all-malted barley vodka made with 100 percent malted barley. Second on the list to come in Lunar Shine, an un-aged corn whiskey usually recognized as moonshine.
“Then I’ll get into gin, whiskey and aged bourbon,” Matthews said.
For all of the brewers and distillers at CSU, Matthews gives advice on her chosen path in the craft of distilling.
“Make sure you have a lot of patience and a lot of grit, because it takes a lot of time to open a craft business,” Matthews said. “Know what you want it to look like, have a clear vision and know that you are going to be spending a lot of time and putting a lot of personal time into the place, so you need to really love it. It’s just one ride that we have, and you want it to be good.”
Collegian Reporter Ashley Haberman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.