As anyone who's ever started a brewery - or waited for one to open - knows, original "target opening dates" often turn into more of a floating bull's-eye. So when Colorado Springs' first Latina-owned brewery celebrates its grand opening - as planned - on Saturday, it's a coup of timing on multiple fronts.
"We decided early on, when we knew we were purchasing the business, we thought that would be cool" to open on Cinco de Mayo, said Jessica Fierro, of Atrevida Beer Co. "We tried to look at timelines and get beer production where it needed to be and it just kind of worked out. It's amazing we were able to hit that mark."
Earlier this year, Fierro joined her husband, Rich, and business partner Stephen Marzulla to purchase and begin transforming Great Storm Brewing Co., the craft brewery founded by Jeff and Lynn Jacobs in 2012 off North Nevada Avenue.
While it's certainly easier to rebrand a brewery than to start from scratch, that doesn't mean there weren't anxious moments as Fierro worked to transition the brewery to her own brand, while still pouring her predecessors' suds.
"It was a slow progression of depleting what was left (of Great Storm's beer stock) when we took over, and using that time to ramp up production of my own recipes," said Fierro. "That was one of the more nerve-wracking things. There was a point where we got very close to running out of beer ... and my beers were not ready yet, but somehow it all worked out."
A veteran homebrewer, Fierro's first foray into commercial brewing came last year, when her recipe for a tamarind-flavored Biere de Garde won the grand prize, and a bottling contract, in "Beerland," a competitive reality show on Viceland TV that profiled some of the nation's top amateur brewers. She can't brew her winning beer, "Dona Neta," at Atrevida because the recipe belongs to Beerland sponsor and AB InBev subsidiary Golden Road Brewing, but Fierro plans to pour variations on that recipe, and other creations inspired by her Mexican heritage.
These include riffs on Great Storm flagships and popular favorites.
"You have the Great Storm loyals that want Rum Raisin or Shine On back, but what we tell our customers is, at some point, we have to make it ours." said Fierro. "We're bringing in different styles and flavors that people aren't used to seeing in beers. I think that's what sets us apart."
The name Atrevida is the feminine form of the Spanish word for "bold," and the message it sends isn't so much about beer.
"My daughter is my first reason for doing this. This didn't happen overnight ... It took six years, and I want her to see I'm pushing through, I never gave up," said Fierro. "Being the first Latina brewery owner here comes with a lot of responsibility and I hope to fill those shoes and do it justice. This is a moment of pride for me, in the best sense of the word."