Words: Meagan Thomas
Photos: Kelly Fischer
As craft beers gain popularity, the idea of drinking a local brew or heading to a place that serves its own beer on tap is becoming more appealing to a wider audience. This drives the continually growing demand for local breweries.
Breweries in Colorado Springs have been popping up all over the city in the past few years, but opening up a brewery isn’t a simple task. It takes dedication, money, time, and research. Brewers might spend the day at a typical 9-5 job and then spend evenings working to perfect a beer they’ve been developing or coming up with names for each brew on the tap list. When co-owners Katrina Benson and Colleen Bye were in the beginning steps of opening Fossil Brewing Company, they weren’t just dealing with the typical feats that come with starting a business, they were also experiencing another big life change––becoming moms. Katrina and Colleen, wives of fellow co-owners Rich and Josh, respectively, were pregnant with their first children during much of the planning process while opening Fossil Brewing Company.
“Opening a brewery while pregnant is stressful,” Colleen said.
It was stressful, but there were advantages for Rich and Josh. They would go to beer festivals and tastings to figure out different styles and combinations to brew at Fossil and their wives would play designated driver.
“It’s a little unfair,” Colleen said. “They’d get to go to beer gardens and we’d go and hang out with them and then drive them home.”
Colleen gave birth in December 2013 and Katrina followed suit in January 2014. Less than a year later, the doors of the brewery opened on October 24.
Starting Fossil Brewing Company
Katrina, Colleen, Josh, Rich, and a fifth owner, Graham Clark, decided to open the brewery after helping a friend get his own place started a few years ago. Josh and Rich were both home brewers, which inspired the idea to begin Fossil.
“When we were finished [helping our friend] we parted ways, but we wanted to do it ourselves now,” Katrina said.
The name Fossil Brewing Company is a combination of all of the owners’ ideas. They wanted something that would be tied to the region. It needed to be unique, but still local. Colorado has a few paleontological sites, and West of Colorado Springs are the Florissant Fossil Beds National Park. The name was fitting and different. The beers each have a name with some type of prehistoric reference and the brewery is decorated with fossil fixtures along the walls.
While Colleen and Katrina don’t actually brew the beer, they have the best job.
“[The men] are the brewers and we are the beer tasters,” Colleen said. “We are the quality control.”
Katrina’s favorite Fossil beer is the Stone Age Stout while Colleen prefers the Megalodon Blonde Ale. There are eight taps with four year-round offerings and four rotating sodas and specialty beers. Pints cost $5 and they sell Boston Rounds, which are 32 oz. They’ll also fill a growler, though they don’t sell the actual glass growlers yet.
“We try to walk the line between brewing what we like and something for everyone,” Katrina said.
Brewers and babies
Now that Fossil has been open for four months and the babies are one-year-olds, the Bensons and Byes are acclimating to managing both a business and a family.
“I think we had different expectations when we were pregnant versus actually having kids. At first it was the shock of being a new parent and a new business owner, but it’s gotten easier as [the kids] have gotten older,” Katrina said.
The only downside to having a baby and a brewery? Spending less time together. Because the families have children as well as other jobs, each family has to trade off who is watching the baby and who is working at the brewery.
“Once someone asked me ‘Is Rich your husband,’ and I said ‘That’s why you never see us together,’” Katrina said.
There’s been demand for Fossil to open on Sundays as well, but for Fossil, Sunday means much needed family time. Fossil is currently in the process of hiring a bartender, with the intention of giving the owners more time to spend with each other.
Colleen and Katrina are just two women in the growing woman-brewer population of Colorado Springs. This March, they are participating in the International Womens Collaboration Brew Day by collaborating on a beer with women brewers from Pike’s Peak Brewery.
2845 Ore Mill Rd., Suite 1
Colorado Springs, CO