If you’ve been around Crux recently, then you know they’ve been working on a pretty hefty, beautiful, and very necessary expansion. I recently spent a morning with founder/master brewer, Larry Sidor, in honor of their 7th year of absolutely crushing it so I could fill you in on exactly what went into this awesome new space. Warning: you’ll learn some things in this article, use your new knowledge to impress your friends or your mom or your dog.
You might already know this, but Crux used to be an AAMCO transmission shop (if you didn’t know, that’s cool because now you do). The entire industrial feel of the original space was carried over to the brewery, so it was vital that the expansion felt the same way. Boy did they nail that! But first, why even expand? Larry said it best, “Our goal is to get beers in hands as fast as possible while keeping the wonderful sense of community that Crux is known for”.
Something that really stuck with me from our conversation is that Larry never expected that the original tap house would be full. Well Larry, wrong. Thankfully for all of us it was realized in 2015 that the original space just wasn’t going to cut it so the expansion planning started. I’m not going to get into a bunch of details about the plans and reasons behind details, but I am going to point out a few VERY cool features.
One of the very first steps in the expansion was getting the (formerly) outdoor container bar going. Considering how popular the outdoor space at Crux is, it was super important for them to have easier access to tasty brews for the sea of people enjoying the lawn. Now you can still hit the container bar, it’s still in the exact same spot, you just have to venture into what is basically a giant covered patio. One thing people have always loved about this space is the accessibility to the outdoors along with the stunning mountain views. The design team did a stellar job of creating a space that easily opened up for sunny days, but still gives us the outdoor feel when all the giant garage doors are down.
One of the main goals of the expansion is getting beers in hands as quickly as possible. Which is a goal I can really get behind. With that in mind, there are now three places to order: the original bar, the container bar, and the front counter. I have spent a fair amount of time at Crux and can tell you that I have never been in a line for beer longer than 5 minutes, and it’s generally much quicker than that. Gone are the days of table service, it just doesn’t make sense for a space that is so oriented around community and fun. Order at one of the bars and go mingle, pet some dogs, meet some new people, have fun!
Now for a few little details. This is the part you’re going to want to remember to show off to your friends. Next time you’re in there are a few things to notice: the ceiling in the expansion, all of the copper light fixtures, and some very specific silver plating pieces. First, take a look at all the lighting fixtures, both inside and outside, they’re all that same beautiful copper that you’ll see in the brewhouse. How? Well, they’re all part of the original brewhouse that Larry held onto when they installed it, the original stacks were much too tall for the space so the copper found a new purpose.
Now take a look up past those beautiful lights and you’ll see some random silver panels hanging down. They might look like nothing to you, but they are actually a very cool piece of brewing history. See, Larry was once the head brewer at Olympia Brewing, back before craft beer was even on the radar. Those silver panels come from his time there. They are all original lauter tun filtration plates that were used as a hop jack before Olympia switched over to the current whirlpool method with the transition from whole flower hops to pellets. Needless to say, those pieces hanging from the ceiling are much more than just a piece of metal, they are a piece of brewing history that harkens to the roots Crux has in the industry.
The last interior piece to point out also requires that you look up, I suggest taking a seat before this because it can be a bit mesmerizing and I’d hate to have any beer casualties… The entire ceiling of the new expansion is a beautifully nerdy piece of design. Stemach Design is responsible for the entirety of the expansion design, but this ceiling is the shining star of it all. The variation in the ceiling is due to the use of randomly alternating 2×6’s and 2×8’s which are aligned at the top and give a wonderful texture to the side we see. According to the designers, there were two main reasons for this. First, it just looks cool. Second, it “helps dampen the reflection of sound in the space”. Considering the amount of metal and concrete in the space it is super important that sound has somewhere to go, otherwise it would be impossible to hear anything.
If you thought all that was the cool part, you’re in for a real treat. The design of the ceiling and organization of the boards created an “exactly random” pattern. Now, I can’t really tell you much about the science and engineering that goes into making something exactly random, but what I can tell you is that it not only looks rad but also contains a secret message. The pattern of the ceiling was dictated by assigning a value to letters of the alphabet then writing out the message… The message in the main seating area says “WELCOME TO CRUX FERMENTATION PROJECT” and the western part of the outdoor area reads “DRINK MORE BEER HERE”. Can you figure out the code?
Moving outside, you’ll see they didn’t change much. The food carts are still there to provide added tasty options on top of the existing menu, there’s still a ton of space to spread out, and there are still fire pits. However, there are added permanent benches available and a brand new fire pit; not just any old fire pit either, there was a lot of work put into this bad boy.
This isn’t just some random fire pit that was bought and installed, it’s all custom and really stays home with the vibe at Crux. The base of the pit is actually a former brew tank that Larry bought and had cut down to create the 8-foot base. Those letters are hand made and welded specifically for the fire pit, meaning this baby is going to be around a long time. Due to the large size of the base, a good number of people are able to cozy up to it, again focusing on that wonderful sense of community the brewing industry is all about.
I’m so very excited to see how far Crux has made it in the last seven years and can’t wait to see what the next seven hold. Big shout out to Jason from Crux for taking the time to help set this all up and to Matt from Stemach Design for providing all the wonderful design information. Also, big shout out to Nathan’s Custom Woodworking for making all of the tables (from a single 100 year old Douglas fir) and to Stuart Breidenstein for crushing that fire pit design.
Now go grab a tasty beer, nestle up next to a fire, and enjoy a terrific view with great people!
Thanks to the Positive Brew Dude for capturing this with his words and photos!