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Raíces Brewing Company merges Latino culture, history and beer

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DENVER — In a city with a competitive craft brewing industry, Latino-owned Raíces Brewing Company was able to quickly make a name for itself.

The brewing company was founded in 2016 and opened a taproom near Mile High Stadium in September of 2019. It almost immediately became a community favorite, winning the reader’s choice for “Best New Brewery Taproom” in Westword’s Best of 2020 issue.

“We wanted to have a Latino brewery that a person that is a Latino identifies with,” said Tamil Maldonado Vega, co-founder and Vice President of Development for the brewing company. For those that are not Latino, Maldonado Vega hopes that Raíces, meaning “roots” in Spanish, is a place where people can learn more about different cultures and the experiences of many immigrant families.

“Every beer that we create at Raíces, it has a history,” she said.

The brewery also had a goal of removing what Maldonado Vega calls “the barrier of language,” so the beers on tap, for example, are listed in both English and Spanish. She said they wanted to create a space where Latinos could feel at home, where they could “breathe...and be themselves.”

Less than six months after opening their new taproom, the team at Raíces had to shut the space down due to COVID-19 precautions. They were closed for two and a half months. They were able to open back up in the summer of 2020, only to have to close later in the year, again because of COVID-19.

In January of this year, Raíces was allowed to operate at 25% capacity. Maldonado Vega says that while the 25% limit was better than having no in-person service at all, it still was “not necessarily enough to cover [their] expenses,” which included safety precautions such as masks, sanitizers, thermometers, and even a disinfecting fog that they sprayed around the inside of the taproom.

Raíces also offers pickup and delivery orders here.

Raíces has also proven to be a reliable place where other Latino-owned businesses like food trucks can set up shop.

“Raíces is always a great place to support local and small businesses. Especially in this time of coronavirus,” said Monica Josephson, co-founder of Duendes Tejidos, a company that sells handmade knits and jewelry.

One of the brewing company’s goals, according to its website, is to “provide a pipeline of underrepresented groups into the craft beer industry making it more accessible through our internship programs, and diversifying the demographics of the industry.”

Maldonado Vega is eager for the safe return of more in-person customers because the events and programming at Raíceslike the Suave Fest, which highlights Latino-owned breweries in Coloradois a large part of their community outreach.

Every weekend, Raíces hosts sábados culturales where different artists and artisans can show off their work. More information is available on their events page.

“Every time that you come over here,” Maldonado Vega explains, “it’s just a new thing.”

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