Red Leg Brewing Co. president and founder Todd Baldwin is no stranger to risk.
A former artillery officer in the U.S. Army, Baldwin grew frustrated when he couldn’t find a bank in Colorado willing to give him a loan to launch his craft brewing dream. So he opened 18 credit cards in a roughly 24-hour period and loaded himself down with $250,000 in debt. On July 4, 2013, Red Leg Brewing opened its taproom at 4630 Forge Road in Colorado Springs.
More than six years later, Baldwin is undertaking another big risk as work gets underway on Red Leg’s next phase: a 2.5-acre multi-purpose project that will be home to an outdoor food hall, event space and a 14,000-square-foot brewery and taproom.
Red Leg held a groundbreaking celebration for the $8 million project on Dec. 13. Some of the banks that previously spurned Baldwin, “Now they’re giving me money,” he said.
The new facility will be at 2323 Garden of the Gods Road, about 1.5 miles west of the Red Leg’s current digs and biking distance to Colorado Springs outdoor jewel, Garden of the Gods Park.
“We really wanted to do a project that was unique in its own right and give people another reason to visit Colorado Springs,” Baldwin said, ideas for hosting 5K races and other events at the new space already running through his head. “It’s really open to whatever our creativity takes us toward.”
The main building, crafted in the style of an aircraft hangar with a high, arching roof, will be home to a 20-barrel brewing system and a secondary seven-barrel setup for specialty beers. It will also feature a rooftop deck the promises some stunning views on the west side of Colorado Springs.
Outside of that, eight food vendors will be housed in a spread of smaller buildings fashioned from shipping containers.
“Our intent was to bring some of the best purveyors of the Springs to operate extension locations,” of their restaurants, Baldwin said, describing the food element as an opportunity for visitors to get a taste of the city’s broader offerings.
It might not get the fanfare of beer-bathed cities like Fort Collins or Boulder, but Colorado Springs brewing scene is certainly bubbling.
Dirk Draper, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Chamber & Economic Development Corporation, said by his last count there are 35 breweries at work in the city today, along with a few cideries and distilleries. He noted some other beer makers, Greeley-based WeldWerks Brewing Co. and Dauntless Brewing, are also at work on new facilities on the city’s west side.
“If you look at the rest of the state, there are only a handful of breweries that have put this kind of capital investment into their operations,” Draper said of the Red Leg campus. “This is a guy who has been in the market for a number of years, established his product and this is a pretty significant launch.”
Red Leg gets its name from the cardinal-colored stripe Civil War artillery soldiers wore on their pants. As a veteran and small-business owner, Baldwin has worked with the government to make beer is available on military bases in Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma. With his company’s expansion, he’s got his sights set on U.S. outposts around the world.
“That was our goal, to be the craft beer of the military,” he said.
The new brewing capacity should also help Red Leg land on more traditional retail shelves. While beer fans can get it in Parker, Lone Tree and Castle Rock, Baldwin says that as of right now that only place his beer is available north of Douglas County is at Buckley Air Force Base.
The new facility is expected to open in late summer.