Jade Mountain Brewery and Tea Room infuses beers with Asian flavors
Few people speak a new language fluently when talking about beer. But Denver-born Sean Guerrero isn’t one to go the standard path. “The area we were in was… mainly the local Chinese people. No one spoke English, ”he recalls from Huzhou, a city in Zhejiang province, western China, to which he moved in 2015.“ I had to learn Chinese just by explaining the beers. , styles and flavors. “
It was Guerrero’s first foray into the blending of Chinese, American and brewing cultures, an ideology that permeates his Aurora-based Jade Mountain brewery and teahouse, which opened on May 1.
Indeed, everything from beers to draft to the name itself lives on in the brewery’s “mix of cultures” slogan. There’s of course the dual East-West influence, but there’s also the yeast and bacterial cultures that are blended together to create Guerrero’s signature sour. And the nickname “Jade Mountain” associates the mineral found in artwork across Asia with the iconic geographic features of Denver. It all plays into what Guerrero hopes to distinguish his brewery.
“I want [people] feel that this place is more than a good beer. A good beer is expected in a place like Denver, ”says Guerrero. “I want to show something different and special [that’s] not just about the beer, but about the community, the culture and the flavors.
As with his language acquisition, Guerrero’s journey to professional brewing was atypical. He had been a committed home brewer and had volunteered at local breweries, but a permanent position as a brewer proved elusive. When his wife, a Chinese citizen, suggested that they return to her home country, Guerrero saw an opportunity to sidestep the prejudices of American brewing culture and introduce something “different and special” to the local Chinese people. . “There really isn’t a lot of craft beer in China, even though it’s the biggest beer consumer in the world,” Guerrero says. “They just drink the macro lagers.”
After only two months in Huzhou, Guerrero bought a former 300 square foot tea house on the Huancheng River and turned it into a brewery called Jade Mountain. The process was not without challenges. Sourcing the ingredients was tricky – Guerrero remembers bringing yeast back from the United States in a suitcase because it was hard to buy in China – as was finding the right brewing equipment. He brewed his first batches in a 10 gallon brewing kettle, what he calls a “glorified home brewing system.” And of course, there was this whole language barrier to overcome.
But Guerrero stayed with him, appreciating the ability to incorporate the bounty of Chinese fruits, rare teas, and native flowers readily available in his new home into his beers. The problem was that his customers were used to more traditional styles of beer like German lagers and Belgian beers – and Guerrero wanted to push the boundaries of the brewery further. “We ended up doing really well for what we did,” he says, “but the more experimental styles like Sour… didn’t go as well as I hoped because they got used to it. still tastes like craft beer. he.”
So, at the end of 2017, Guerrero and his wife returned to Denver, where he was able to “flex my creative fingers” for an audience deeply familiar with craft beer. After some initial failures with what turned out to be a lemon of one place, let alone the global pandemic, Guerrero opened his new brewery named, of course, Jade Mountain.
The name is not the only intersection of the original location. Many beers brewed in Guerrero’s Colorado still deliberately incorporate rice to create a specific flavor profile. Acids are also a specialty of Jade Mountain as they allow Guerrero to showcase traditionally Asian flavors like kumquat, lychee and Sichuan chili. There’s also a selection of hard teas on the menu, which Guerrero describes as a seltzer-style alcoholic beverage brewed with fruit and tea. And for non-drinkers, there are several varieties of organic Chinese teas. Try Yang Gui Fei, a sour lychee-infused fruit named after the imperial consort of a former Chinese emperor, or Snow, a syrup brewed with toasted rice and jasmine blossoms.
The path from Guerrero to Jade Mountain was not straightforward, but it was worth it. “I am grateful for how I entered this industry [because] it gave me a different perspective, ”he says, a perspective that sees the beauty and potential of blending traditions. “The beer is great, but we want people to have some kind of emotional connection. We want to try to create a culture. “
The Jade Mountain Brewery and Tea Room is open Sunday through Tuesday, 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, and Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 am to 10:00 pm; 4233 S. Buckley Road, Aurora