Tivoli Brewing Co. hires Ari Opsahl to replace Salomon Marcos Garza Jr.

Six months after 22-year-old Salomon Marcos Garza Jr. took over Colorado’s oldest brewery, he’s decided to step down from his position as CEO.

Tivoli Brewing Co. has hired Anheuser-Busch InBev’s former vice president of western U.S. wholesale operations, Ari Opsahl, to replace the recent DU graduate next month.

“He’s experienced and has managed over a billion dollars in sales, so he has a lot of knowledge about growing companies,” Garza said. “After meeting Ari, I recommended to the board that he take over my role. Because of my experience, my age and my connections, which is going to take a couple of years to build, I was more than happy to step down.”

Starting August 9, Garza will become operations manager, and Opsahl will take over the 162-year-old brewery as CEO.

Garza, the son of the brewery’s majority stakeholder, Salomon Juan Marcos Villarreal, had been working at Tivoli for six months before his promotion to replace former CEO Ken Hehir in January.

Garza’s father owns GD Holdings, a Denver-based real estate investment group, and is the third-generation chairman and CEO of Mexico-based Grupo Denim, which makes jeans and other textiles for major brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Wrangler.

The financier is also part of the ownership group for the Four Seasons hotel in Denver and the Ritz-Carlton in Beaver Creek.

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Tivoli’s brewery and taproom is located on the Auraria college campus in the Tivoli Student Union.

When Garza took over, he said, the board of around 80 investors told him he had three months to save the business or it would be shut down, since it had been losing money the past three years.

Garza cut Tivoli’s staff count from around 50 to nine, and slimmed down the brewery’s products from more than 30 to four. He also began developing two new drinks geared toward younger customers, he said.

Tivoli’s brewing facility and taproom is on the Auraria college campus in the Tivoli Student Union. The brewery is an independent business, although it acts as a teaching facility for students at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Garza said, year to date, Tivoli has canned more than 20,000 cases and produced around 6,000 barrels of beer. But draft sales are still down around 15 percent as a result of the pandemic.

“Right now the summer months are our biggest months for beer, and we hope to max out the facility, which can hold around 10,000 to 15,000 barrels, with more taproom business,” Garza said.

Opsahl, 31, spent seven years working his way up the corporate ladder at Anheuser-Busch InBev. But in 2019, he decided to quit and settle down in Denver with his wife. He took a break from the brewery business and has been working for a tech startup called Plutoshift for the last two years.