It is no secret to my followers at Colorado Beer Geek that Liberati is, personally, my favorite brewery. While I admit there is some bias due to the close friendship that I have developed with owner Alex Liberati, I can safely say that he built a fabulous brewpub unlike any other in Colorado. It all started with four Italians who were convinced to set up their business in Denver by local artist and author of Italy Beer Country, Paul Vismara. Alex and his business partner, Francesco Iacovino, created a stunning high-end Italian restaurant where Head Chef Marta Biasotti and Head Baker Federica Ansani worked their magic in the kitchen making delicious and authentic Italian cuisine. To highlight the outstanding food, most of the taps at Liberati flowed with house-brewed oenobeers. The oenobeers spanned the spectrum of styles from a Kolsch with 7% Chardonnay grapes to a Dubbel with 49% Malbec grapes, and even a couple big beer offerings that taste much like a port such as a crowd favorite, Oximonstrum.
While trying to glean more information about Liberati’s opening, I saw Alex make a comment on Facebook which prompted me to ask him about the status of the brewpub. As an answer, he invited me over to check out the location still under construction and share some beer. I figured that I’d be there about an hour, have a beer with him, and get some answers to about the brewery. Five HOURS and many beers later we had the beginnings of what has become a truly wonderful friendship. I now hang out with him regularly enjoying his company over many beers and games of backgammon (where I am good and he is lucky) along with Scopa, a traditional Italian card game (where I am okay and he cheats).
With the closing of Liberati I asked Alex some questions about this decision along with his future and the future of oenobeers. A big thank you to my dear friends, Meghan Howes and Dev Adams, who helped draft these questions along with editing (as I am much more of a data geek than a journalist/author).
Let’s start with talking about the goals of Liberati initially. Did those shift over time? What surprises did the Denver market bring that were unexpected?
What are some of your favorite memories at Liberati? They are all your children but do you have a favorite oenobeer to brew and/or drink?
Oh man, we have had quite the list of fun and great moments at Liberati, it would be hard to chose a few! Although there have been a good number of breakthrough moments in the pursuit of exploring oenobeers (for example understanding the surprisingly amazing role that oxygen can play in unconsidered stages of fermentation), I do think that there has been a revelation that I’m most intrigued by that has happened with brewing Eroica, a beautifully small and mineral farmhouse ale co-fermented with a generous amount of Viognier grapes. That to me still remains one of the top beers I’ve ever tasted in my life.
Regarding oenobeers – we know they’re not going anywhere, and that you have worked hard to perfect that style (and have done a fabulous job of it) – is there a next chapter for this approach?
This was obviously an excruciatingly difficult decision to make. Can you talk a little bit about what led up to this decision to close Liberati?
Although one might think that, this actually was quite a natural decision to make. I think that any sound person in my position would have chosen this opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, Liberati has been a spectacular vessel to set sail out to explore this thrilling uncharted territory (of oenobeers I mean), and we have all absolutely grown fond of Liberati and loved it of course, like you would with a excellent ship that safely sailed you on your adventures, but sometimes you have to change in order to take the journey to new heights and discover new treasures. Coping with change is inherently difficult for the human race, but in today’s world it’s often the path that leads to the best results.
How do you feel about the Denver beer industry now vs when Liberati first opened? What did you not anticipate?
Let’s talk about the future of Alex Liberati. You’re staying in Denver, yes? What does the future hold for the genius behind bringing (true) oenobeers to Colorado?
What plans does Alex have for the future? Stay tuned to Colorado Brewery List and Colorado Beer Geek as we learn more!