New brewery hires developmentally disabled, teaches them to make beer

DENVER -- After more than a year of fundraising and jumping typical new alcohol business hurdles, Brewability Lab is open for business.

The idea is to hire people with developmental disabilities, train them how to brew beer and hopefully improve their standard of living.

The brewery is the brainchild of Tiffany Fixter, a special education teacher who saw a greater need in adults with disabilities.

"I was running a day program when I realized from age 21, they don't have a lot of options and I don't think sitting around in a warehouse coloring is an appropriate option," Fixter said.

In October 2015, Fixter launched a Kickstarter.com page.

She raised more than $30,000, propelling her desire to buy brewery equipment and lease a brewery space.

"We're doing training for assistant brewers ,sanitation managers, glassware specialists and beertenders," Fixter said. "Everybody has a skill. So, it's just figuring out what they do best and employing them. Everyone should have a purpose."

Tony Saponaro has been with Fixter since the beginning. For the past year, he has been working once a month with Fixter to create new beer recipes, but since the brewery is now open, he hopes to work full time.

"I feel really great about it. Once you've been on such a long journey it's great to finally see some results," Saponaro said. "I just wanted to thank Tiffany for all of her work getting here. It's been really hard."

The brewery debuted four beers: A session IPA, a blonde ale, a brown and Belgian beer. First-time visitors seemed pleased by the quality.

"For one, I love the idea, but the beer is pretty good," Diana Smith said.

Fixter hopes to hire several more positions.