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Game of Barrels — Local Brew Pub Ups The Suds

Article by Elise Oberliesen

Photography by Sarah Dawn Photography

Originally published in Broomfield Lifestyle

HEAD BREWER: Nate Ternes 
BREWERY: Rails End Beer Company
LOCATION: 11625 Reed Ct Broomfield, Co 80020
# of HATS WORN: 4-Bartender, Drink Pourer, Taproom Manager, Head Brewer.
REQUIRED KNOWLEDGE: Chemistry, Biology, Recipe Development, Fermentation, FDA Regulations Food Safety.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Deciding next batch and tweaking recipes. 
OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD:  Daily beer tastings for quality control.

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Blood Orange Double IPA

Brewer in the Making

Let’s face it. Crowd-worthy craft brew creations do not magically drop from the blue sky—nor do mermaids swim out of fermentation tanks delivering time-tested recipes that guarantee batch success. 

At Rails End Beer Company—that job belongs to Head Brewer Nate Ternes. He’s responsible for monitoring the fermentation process and the liquid gold that spills from it. 

But before can he wear the mad scientist goggles and experiment with clever recipes, step No. 1 is sourcing top-quality ingredients that deliver good taste.

“Different malts have different tastes. I adjust the recipe with different malted barley because different company brands taste slightly different.”

Creating original brew recipes requires a surprising amount of research--plus trial and error. It’s not like there’s an app for that. Instead, the pressure weighs on Ternes to take calculated risks and get creative with ingredients. While he undoubtedly brings some brew-making wizardry—there’s no crystal ball that predicts which batch justifies a swallow.

Like most people, Ternes paid his dues before landing second in line at Rails Ends. His determination got him there.

“I started wiping tanks and mopping as a volunteer at Rails End. That turned into cleaning tanks then kegging beer for local restaurants to now running the taproom,” he said. 

In the early days, Ternes quickly progressed from volunteer to landing a fun, cool taproom job--at a then-fledgling brewpub. But it was his love of the craft brew culture that ignited his fiery passion and eventual career progression. 

Prior to landing the head brewer spot, Ternes went back to college a second time. This time to pursue the Applied Craft Brewing program at Regis. 

But truth be told—it was during his first stint in college when he realized his Brewmeister talents would lead to bottoms up success. He discovered this sixth sense with a college buddy. The two set up a garage-style brewing operation. Not surprisingly, this brew crew found volunteer taste testers who consistently emptied the barrels, so to speak.

Taste Worthy or Toss Worthy

Rails End Beer Company Owner Dale Reeder holds high standards when it comes to brew quality, ingredients and taste. Reeder would rather toss a perfectly imperfect batch of brew rather than salvage—save or fix it. That’s because, if products carry the name Rails End Beer—he refuses to compromise the quality customers have come to expect. He would rather take a hit in the purse strings.

“I was asked, ‘Why don’t you mask it with hops and call it something else?" Reeder’s response, “Because we just don’t do that here. Can’t give a fake product to the community.”

The idea of dumping beer instead of reviving it brings many a tear to brew lover loyalists. Some folks even consider the practice sacrilege.

Keep in mind, taproom owners run businesses. And any successful business must weigh tough financial decisions. After all, much of the clientele doubles as esteemed beer aficionados—not to be confused with beer snobs. Taste matters.

Earlier this year, Reeder dumped more than 2,170 gallons. Reasons run the gambit from equipment failure to fermentation kerfuffle. Most would call the loss simple overhead.

Thanks to trained taste buds, Rails End mostly gets it right. That’s because Ternes and Reeder taste the stuff—daily. Should their discerning taste buds detect even minuscule hints of unfavorable aftertaste, they decide whether it’s taste worthy or toss-worthy. Luckily they have help from mug club members. 

“We all sit and we do a tasting together. We give a 10 oz pour and ask for feedback. Usually, the answer has 2 thumbs up.” Reeder said. He takes feedback to heart so his team can continue improving the product and providing a tasty taproom experience. Membership costs $125 annually which includes year-round tasting perks. 

Above: Owners Dale and Lisa Reeder commonly share a laugh over their labor of love. 

Opposite Top-Left: With 13 beers on tap, you're sure to find something that makes your taste buds dance. 

Opposite Top-Right: There is something for the entire family with games, live music, events and food trucks just to name a few. And don’t forget to bring your 4-legged kids. 

Opposite Top-Bottom: Reeder and Ternes take one for the team, tasting each batch daily, in order to serve only the best to their community. 

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  • Blood Orange Double IPA
  • Rail Spike Seltzer