A Belgian-inspired brewpub serving elevated fare in the heart of Boulder's historic Pearl Street
Originally, the three of us were involved in opening Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse in Boulder in 1996. That is when Brian got his first cease and desist letter from a monastery for calling an ale "Trappist". That beer is now named Angry Monk. After opening West Flanders, we received a cease and desist for another beer that we had brewed at Redfish and brought back. This one ended amicably. Finally, the NFL sent us one for referencing the playoffs in an advertisement for a small-batch release. You just don’t know who you are going to piss off.
In September of 2013, just before our 1 year anniversary, the floods came to Boulder. Though we did not have any damage to our premises, it took Boulder and us a long time to recover from the economic redirection that occurred. In time, people began to get their lives back on line and went out for food and beer. We are happy to say that those days are behind us and we are all moving forward now.
West Flanders was founded by Brian, Mark and Chris who have been involved in the Boulder beer scene for a long time. As owners of The Sink, Mark and Chris supported the craft beer movement from the get-go being one of the first accounts outside of Ft. Collins to carry New Belgium and many other small brewery’s bombers. At the same time, Brian began as one of Lefthand’s first employees and was later the first person to put a craft beer in a can as head brewer for Oscar Blues. At West Flanders, we payhomage to the Colorado roots of the craft beer movement.
Brian was introduced to "good" beer when he was 17, spending a few months in a small Bavarian town as an exchange student in 1985. He was struck by the way in which beer was interwoven into Bavarian culture, and how it was revered and proudly cherished by the people. He knew then that he had to brew!
After a series of many strange but fortunate events he began working at Left Hand Brewing Co. in 1993. It was there that he learned that brewing beer and hard work went hand-in-hand - a good lesson to learn! Managing multiple yeast strains and respecting consistency in brewing while at Left Hand led him to help opening Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse in 1996.
The brewpub environment allowed him to experiment with a great number of different yeast strains and adjuncts, and before long he became obsessed with the way small artisanal Belgian brewers were approaching their craft. The Belgians brew beers that can be compared to no other on the planet: they recognize that each beer has a personality of its own, and aren't hampered creatively by trying to fit into a specific style.
In 2001, he began brewing at Oskar Blues in Lyons, CO. One day the owner told him that they should buy a canning machine and can their 6.5% ABV over-the-top hopped Pale Ale. Brian thought it was the stupidest idea he'd ever heard. They bought the canning machine, and that was the start of the canning revolution in the craft beer world.
“I'm beyond excited to be a part of West Flanders Brewing Company,” he says, “It's a place where the traditions of Old World brewing are married with New World passion, coming together to create beers that will challenge our palates and satisfy our senses!”
In 1992, brothers Mark and Chris Heinritz partnered with their brother James, and Boulder native Cameron Stainton, to purchase The Sink from the Kavaur family. The Sink is a University of Colorado institution known for the “Sinkburger” and for being central to the collegiate lifestyle.
In 1996, the partners opened Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse just off the Pearl Street Mall on 13th Street. The original concept was to create a brewpub that didn't serve traditional pub fare. Redfish was a success, becoming both a local favorite and an industry leader and trendsetter in combining food and beer. In 1997, the ownership of Redfish changed. Mark and Chris continued to grow the concept and patronage of The Sink, which they still own to this day.
The dream of brewing new beers and creating Pearl Street's hot spot for the beer community were shelved.
Chris went looking for some new experiences and landed with the upstart Noodles & Company. He joined when the company totaled three restaurants and left five years later as the company was approaching one hundred. While there, Chris played roles in operations and construction helping to refine the concept.
Now approaching their twenty-year anniversary at The Sink, the Heinritz brothers have evolved the concept to be more food- driven. The food is made from scratch, and has even caught the attention of the Food Networks' Diners Drive-ins and Dives, as well as President Barack Obama who visited in April 2012.
This transformation has occurred without taking anything away from the allure and traditions The Sink has been a part of for ninety years.
With West Flanders Brewing Company, the brothers have once again teamed up with their old friend Brian Lutz to rekindle the spirit they first created at Redfish. As Mark likes to say, “We're getting the band back together with a new drummer I'm excited to revive the dream of Redfish, and create a community-based space that celebrates the craft of beer and good times.”