Craft brewery start-up trains, employs special needs adults

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DENVER — A new craft brewery startup in Denver is hoping to become the first in the world to train and employ adults with developmental disabilities.

Brewability is hoping to raise enough funds on Kickstarter to bring hope and opportunity to an underserved population.

For Chris Watson, the initial thought of working in a brewery was intimidating.

“I have a lot to learn,” said Chris Watson. “A ton.”

But after a few days of training through Brewability, Watson says he feels more comfortable than he ever imagined.

It’s definitely an experience of a lifetime,” Watson said.

He and his friend Tony Saponaro both suffer from developmental disabilities and they are now both hoping to land jobs at Brewability.

“There’s a sense of community here that you’re a part of,” Saponaro said.

The training process at Brewability is specifically geared toward adults with developmental disabilities. They use repetitive, color coordinated training that relies on repetition and visual cues.

“These individuals are awesome workers and they do the task perfectly every time,” said Toby Gerard, head brewer for Brewability. “That’s really important in brewing, when you make beer, is to have consistent products.”

Tiffany Fixter launched Brewability after working for years in special education. She’s now hoping to give opportunity for adults (21+) with Autism or Down Syndrome.

“I found out that there just really aren’t enough jobs for that population,” Fixter said.

Brewability plans to begin by hiring 8 part time employees, but first they need the equipment to start making beer. Grandma’s House brewery on South Broadway is offering the space they need, but FIxter is now turnign to Kickstarter in hopes of raising the $30,000 they need to brew their own beer and hire their own employees.

“If we do get funded, we will be the only brewery in this country, and most likely in the world, that are taking these individuals that so desperately need rewarding work and giving them a place to work,” Gerard said.

So far brewability has raised about $6,000, which is a fifth of a way to their entire goal, but they won’t see any of the money unless they raise all $30,000.

“The clock is ticking,” Fixter said. “I need the community’s help.”

She isn’t the only one who needs it.

“It would give me and my buddy Tony an actual chance in life,” Watson said. “A chance that we otherwise would not have.”

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