Revival of historic beer

|Barbara Lawlor • Peak to Peak|

Corey Marshall loves to flashback in time, to about 150 years ago, when the miners would clamber into the Stage Stop Inn, plunk themselves onto a barstool and order a Tivoli beer. They would sigh happily, suck the foam off their mustaches, settle back and smile after a hard day of work. At that time only two Colorado beers were available: Tivoli and Bangs. Both breweries closed down years ago, but Tivoli is making a comeback and doing an historic tour opening.
Two weekends ago, Marshall, the new owner and restorer of the company, brought the beer on tap to the Stage Stop in Rollinsville, an historic restaurant, and celebrated Tivoli’s rebirth in the style it was born to be consumed — kind of a sentimental journey. Marshall couldn’t have been happier. He was experiencing a dream come true.
Marshall is a Colorado native whose grandparents were German immigrants who settled in Denver and became active in German social clubs, whose beer of choice was Tivoli, which had begun as Sigi’s Brewery. He grew up in Littleton, attending Columbine High School and then Colorado State University. He worked for Ford Motor Company in Detroit for a while, but in 1998, he decided to return to Colorado and went to work for the Molson/Coors Brewery. In the next 15 years, he became adept at sales, production planning, inventory, finances and also threw the hops into the brew.
He was acquainted with Tivoli because most of his family drank it. His grandfather’s breakfast consisted of two raw eggs in a glass of Tivoli with salt sprinkled on top. One day when he was reminiscing about those days, he wondered why Tivoli had died and why no one had thought of reviving the popular beer. Eight years ago he began his research, which sparked his interest even more and he went through the process of obtaining trademark rights of Tivoli and other historic beers of Colorado.
Tivoli was no longer a memory. It was part of his everyday life and his future as a brewmaster. The history of the beer goes back to Moritz Sigi, who was born in Baden, Germany. By 1863, Sigi was a retail liquor dealer, and by 1864 he established the Colorado Brewery, commonly known as Sigi’s Brewery. Sigi realized that his new brewery needed promotion, so in December 1864 he brought a keg to the offices of the Rocky Mountain News so the staff could sample the brew. The employees unanimously expressed their opinion, saying that Sigi’s beer was second to none that’s brewed in Colorado.
In 1868, Sigi constructed another building which became the first of several historic buildings currently part of the Tivoli site. Its opening gala on Dec. 26, 1868, in grand style and “Sigi’s Hall” became the new central meeting place for the Denver Turnverein, a local German club where members held social activities, classes, debates and lectures.
Sigi’s main operations were just behind the new Hall and probably consisted of a grain and malt mill, mash tubs, brew kettles, storage facilities and an ice house or cellar for beer storage. In 1870 Sigi drilled the first artesian well in Denver. This well supplied his brewery with water and remained in use into the 1900s as the brewery complex expanded.
On March 23, 1874, at the age of 43, Sigi died at his home after a bazar accident at 19th and Wazee Streets. One night he was driving his carriage around town with family and friends when Sigi’s horses were startled by a pair of barking dogs. The horses panicked, causing the carriage with its six occupants to overturn. While the injuries varied in severity, Sigi was the only person who died in the accident.
It was probably his social events Denver likely missed the most. Everyone knew about his elaborate annual holiday celebrations and masquerade balls and Turnverein events, but he was also known for hosting various events for the general public, Denver’s school children, and the city’s African- American community.
In 1879 Max Melsheimer, another German immigrant, purchased the Colorado Brewery and renamed the company the Milwaukee Brewery. The name of the brewery was later changed to the Tivoli Brewing Company, named after the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.
By 1901, the Tivoli Brewing Company had merged with the Union Brewing Company, and continued to operate until 1964. The complex was sold to Carl and Joseph Occhiato in 1965 and four years later went out of business.
Now, after purchasing the trademark, the recipes and contracting with Prost Beer in Denver to brew the beer, Marshall is on the road to reintroduce the historic brew, a German- style Helles Lager using all German ingredients.
“This is a true re-creation of the beer first made over a century ago,” Marshall said.”We are following the original recipe as close as possible. Some of the ingredients are not available. We use a unique Bavaria yeast from an ancient Adechs Monestary. Only five breweries have access to the yeast which makes a malty, light drinkable beer with a solid malt flavor, a clean, not bitter, aftertaste.
Marshall is pleased to announce that Mike Occhatiato, the final Tivoli Brewmaster, who last brewed Tivoli in 1969, participated in the historic recreation. Marshall said he is the only link to the original recipe.
The combination of using an historic copper system brought over from Bavaria and the ancient decoction brewing process delivers the “one of a kind” Tivoli Beer malt flavor, Marshall said.
State Stop General Manager Ann Casanova said the Launch Party was a fun event with a great turnout. Everyone raved about the pork schnitzel, the bratwurst, the Rhinelanders German band featuring an Alpine horn and, of course, the seven kegs of Tivoli beer that were consumed in one week.
Casanova said the Octoberfest-type party will be an annual event.