James Peak Brewery & Smokehouse opens

james-peakBarbara Lawlor, Nederland.  In the beginning of September the Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery closed its doors while it went through the transition of new owners and a redo of the restaurant.

It is now reopened as the James Peak Brewery & Smokehouse with the emphasis on the brewery. Matty McClyman, the James Peak manager opened the new restaurant on November 16, 2016 with a whole new bar system.

james-peak-mattieMatty is well-known in Nederland, having worked at several favorite bars in town in the past decade. He originally came to Colorado after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying science, sociology and Asian studies, trying to figure out his future.

On a trip from Wisconsin to California, he decided to visit friends in Colorado and was on his way to Rollinsville when his Pathfinder caught on fire in Boulder Canyon. He caught a ride to the Sundance and had the vehicle towed to Rollinsville where a friend put the truck back together welding a stop sign to the frame. It was 2002.

“I ended up staying for two weeks so I began looking for work, handing out resumes up here and in Boulder. I went back home to Wisconsin to get my dog and when I came back to Colorado, the Red Lion hired me as a server.”

One night when Matty was relaxing at the Pioneer Inn, he noticed a confrontation in the pool room that rapidly escalating into a fight. He told Steve that bartender that he should probably stop it before it got serious and offered to help. Both men got there as first punch was being thrown and the situation was neutralized.

Steve offered Matty a job on the spot and for the next six years, Matty overlapped the PI job with working at the Pink Flamingo, the First Street Pub and Grill and then the Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery where he became bar manager.

In 2014, Matty was offered a job at the Academy Retirement Community home in Boulder in the Food and Beverage Department. He loved meeting the people who had many stories to tell of being war heroes and show horse owners. The only problem was he had to wear a tie and a long-sleeved shirt to cover his tattoos, paw prints of Jay, his husky, Australia-mix dog he brought from his Wisconsin and his baby’s handprint.

In 2014, Matty and his wife Leslie were under contract to buy the Wild Mountain, but it didn’t go through at the time, so Matty took a job as general manager of the Boulder Creek Hotel. When the Wild Mountain sold last summer, to a five-owner partnership, local developer Mark Stringfellow came to Matty and asked him to run the James Peak.

“I love the people here and the town,” says Matty, who was happy to return. He says the biggest change completed was the redoing of the tap beer system.

“We offer a more German style beer, starting from scratch.”

Matty says the beer is a priority. The menu, especially the local favorite, the wings, is the same, except simpler; the high quality meat, pork, chicken and beef ribs. He says everyone has been demanding that the wings stay the same.

james-peak-mark-closeThe new brewer Mark Ruiz has taken over the beer part. Ruiz was with the Great Divide Brewery, working his way up, when the owners, two members of the James Peak partnership, offered him the job in Nederland.

Mark, a former chef, entered into the brewing business, working at the Zip Line Brewery in Nebraska when the owners moved him back to Colorado in August of last year. He is happy to be in the mountains and hopes to find a home here.

“With this brewery, the sky’s the limit,” he says, “I just want to brew great beer. We only live once and we deserve to have great food and beer. Everyone deserves that.”

Matty says some of the former Wild Mountain staff have returned and some are new. There is a change in seating and a kids’ play area has been built upstairs.

“We have a five minute food delivery time,” says Matty. “No more servers or hostesses. You come in and order your food and find a seat. It is fast-casual but we are going to make sure the food we put out is great.”

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.