By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
Of the eleven outstanding brewers who are participating in the upcoming fourth annual Denver Beer Pairing, perhaps the most unique company name and concept is that of Fiction Beer, which is owned by Ryan (B.S., ’03) and Christa Kilpatrick (B.A., ’03).
Ryan grew up in New Jersey and applied to CSU not only because a friend was enrolled but also due to the fact that when he visited his brother at the U.S. Air Force Academy, he fell in love with Colorado. Christa Grosse-Rhode grew up in Littleton, later moving to Castle Pines North. She chose CSU because she loved Fort Collins and the CSU campus.
The pair began dating while students. Christa says they enjoyed hiking, rafting the Poudre, and “hanging at Lory State Park.” Pickle Barrel was another of their haunts. The two also became fascinated with craft beer, spending a great deal of time at New Belgium and Odell, both of which were small breweries at that time.
Following graduation, the couple moved to Hoboken, New Jersey. Ryan wanted to open a restaurant, and Christa planned to get into publishing. After a year, however, they returned to Colorado where they worked for a consulting firm. Christa later moved into property management. Over time, they began to talk about an idea that had been in their heads since their college days – creating a brewery. Next, talk turned into action and they began developing a business plan. That plan became Fiction Beer.
The name and concept were Christa’s idea; as she tells the story, “I am a book nerd, a bibliophile.” Ryan’s version is “Christa loved books and liked beer; I liked books and loved beer.” Their concept came together not only in the company name but also in everything from the design of the taproom on East Colfax in Denver to the names of brews.
In the tap room, the bar literally is constructed out of books. The tap handles are made to look like old book bindings. In addition, there are floor-to-ceiling shelves which are filled with books that patrons are welcome read while enjoying a beer or to borrow. The space also features quotes from authors about beer painted on the wooden tables. One quote is by Ray Bradbury in The October Country: “Beer’s intellectual. What a shame so many idiots drink it.”
Among the many delightful names of their brews are, A Series of Fortunate Stouts, 95 Nightmares before Christmas, Metafictional Progress, and Donut Panic. Some of their brews have won impressive awards. Madame Psychosis New England Style Pale Ale won the GABF Bronze Medal in 2018. Alternate Present Schwarzbier won a World Beer Cup Silver Medal in 2018, a GABF Silver Medal in 2017, and a Best of Draft Beer Awards Silver Medal in 2017. Logic is Relative New England Style IPA and Deep Roots Bière de Garde each won a Best of Craft Beer Awards Gold Medal in 2017.
People’s response to this unique name and décor is generally quite positive, and most people who come in are either return customers or have heard about Fiction Beer and came to experience it themselves. Ryan says, only half joking: “People who walk in for the first time have one of two reactions. They either love it or they ignore the books and say: “Gimme a beer.” Christa adds that many people seek them out because of the literary theme. The two are big supporters of the Denver Public Library.
After seven years of running Fiction Beer, Ryan says “the joys of doing this have grown. I have got my sanity back and can focus on my family.” He and Christa have two children, a 6- and a 9-year-old. Ryan now manages the brewhouse.
Fiction Beer has been part of the Denver Beer Pairing event from its beginning. Thinking about its next occurrence on February 19, Ryan adds that “doing events is the best part of this business; we see people we have known for years. It’s fun standing around and talking to people about beer!”
Fourth Annual Denver Beer Pairing
Saturday, February, 19, 6 p.m.
Forney Museum of Transportation, Denver
Sample delicious beers from local Colorado breweries paired with gourmet small plates.