New in brew: Fritz Family Brewers

The Niwot brewery gap is no more


Five years ago, Niwot was home to two breweries. Bootstrap Brewing was first to market, with Powder Keg not far behind. But as of last year, there were none. Powder Keg closed in 2018, and Bootstrap outgrew its original location on 79th Street, and owners Leslie and Steve Kaczeus turned their attention to their spacious packaging brewery and taproom in Longmont. But brewing space is never vacant long in Boulder County, and as of July 23, Niwot is once again home to your friendly neighborhood brewery.

“Well, Niwot was kind of random,” Kelly Buenning admits, explaining that she and her husband, Cory, were taking their son to the Niwot Children’s Park when they saw the “For Lease” sign up at Bootstrap’s former location. The two were looking to move back West. Niwot needed a brewery. What more could you ask for?

Fritz Family Brewers — named after their 3-year-old son — is a homecoming for Cory, who discovered homebrewing in the early ’90s while at CU-Boulder. He went pro in ’96, first at Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, then at Snake River Brewing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While at Snake River, he netted two dozen Great American Beer Festival medals in his 17-year tenure. In 2016, opportunity knocked once more when Cory’s brother-in-law decided to open a brewery, Gravely Brewing, in Louisville, Kentucky, and brought the Buennings in at the ground floor. It proved to be an enjoyable change of scenery but, all the while, Kelly and Cory thought about moving closer to Cory’s family, and opening a brewery of their own, one with a focus on community and the taproom experience.

“My husband doesn’t like it when the beer is out of his control,” Kelly says. “When you send it out into the world, you have no idea how it’s stored. You have no idea how long it’s out on the shelf. All that kind of stuff.”

And at Fritz, Cory’s in control. Working with a seven-barrel system and four fermenters, Cory will be able to manage every step of the brew process, even working the bar and pouring pints for customers. And with 16 taps on the wall, there’s plenty of space for Cory to experiment.

“He likes having the smaller system, so you can make different styles and not have to sit on it for a super long time,” Kelly says. Hazy and West Coast IPAs are to be expected, but, as Kelly says, “He loves himself a German lager,” so make sure to try the helles and the German Pilsner. His Dortmunder — a soft and round pale lager — will soon be joining the tap wall, ideal for warm-weather drinking.

What you won’t find at Fritz Family are TVs or live music. They’re just not “conducive to hanging out, having a conversation,” Kelly says. Instead, they aim to make Fritz a communal space that’s “inviting and bright,” with ample seating for everyone to get to know everyone else.

“We want [people] to have a place to come and hang out,” Kelly says. “We’re going more for a family-friendly place where you can bring your kids.”

After all, Fritz Family Brewers exists because they were taking their son to the park. It only seems fair he gets to be a part of things. 

ON TAP: Fritz Family Brewers. 6778 N. 79th St., Niwot. Open Monday-Thursday at 3 p.m., Friday through Sunday at noon.

West End Tavern’s 13th Annual Jul-IPA Party

IPA is the most popular craft beer style out there, and second place ain’t even close.

And not just because the style is so popular, but because it’s so varied: Bright and bitter, hazy and juicy, session, imperial, triple, black, red, white, wheat, rye, Belgian — the list goes on. When it comes to beer styles, IPA is a workhorse.

So it’s high time you break out of your standard IPA rut and discover something new. Lucky for you, West End Tavern will be hosting its 13th annual Jul-IPA rooftop party on July 31. They’ll have IPAs from 14 breweries to expand your lupulin horizons: From the breweries who set the standard (Avery, Dogfish Head, Stone) to the new generation fashioning the next wave (4 Noses, Call to Arms, New Image). And it wouldn’t be a party without a few local favorites: Bootstrap, Crystal Springs, The Post and more. Tickets are $35 and include food and live music — more information at