Paige Schuster and Marcus Christianson, married since 2009, were teaching high school science by day and homebrewing in their free time.
Looking for a different career path, the couple's eyes were caught on the growth in small breweries and taprooms in Colorado.
“It hadn't hit the boom that it hit even in the last three or four years,” Schuster said. She added: “It felt pretty innovative, still, at the time.”
They decided if they wanted to do anything else in their careers, they had found the right time to make the move.
“The community aspect of a brewery and just how integrated the smaller breweries are into the general culture of the neighborhood” are aspects that pulled the couple in, Schuster said.
But they also agreed on a goal closer to their hearts: “If we ever opened a business, we wanted it to be on the philanthropic side,” Schuster added.
Growing up in Loveland, Schuster saw her father's involvement in different charity efforts in northern Colorado. After her father died when she was 17, Schuster and her mother started a foundation in his memory and to further a legacy for their family, Schuster said.
At Two22 Brew — opened in 2014 and owned by Schuster and her husband — $2.22 of every $10 of profit goes to certain Colorado nonprofits. At the time of its opening, the brewery on Reservoir Road just south of Quincy Avenue was the furthest east brewery in the area, Schuster said, and it has since taken a strong foothold in its surrounding community.
Two22 relies on its patrons in nearby neighborhoods “to guide us to charities they work with or causes they know of within the area that our community has ties to,” Schuster said. “We really like it to be something we're not forcing on people — it's like, it's things that already mean something to people in our community, and people want to support it.”
Past grant recipients have included YouthRoots — a leadership program that works with high school students to tackle community issues — and the Boulder Community Housing Corporation, a supporting entity of the Boulder County Housing Authority, which helps provide affordable housing in Boulder County.
“We've kind of narrowed our mission,” Schuster said.
Team members of Two22 Brew “really do focus on the Denver-Centennial-Aurora-Parker area. Everything we do centralizes, as far as charities go, within education, environment or what we call whole-person well-being.”
Giving back at Two22 can get more hands-on, too. For the past few years, except during the pandemic, the brewery team has “adopted” an elementary school with families in need of books and other essentials. In the past, brewery patrons brought in socks, hats and gloves in October, books throughout November, and food in December, Schuster said.
“Then everyone would come in for a big wrapping night” to package the books, Schuster added. “So not only were people willing to donate their money and items, but they're also willing to donate their time.
When the coronavirus pandemic brought indoor dining shutdowns last March and in the fall, Two22 was “very lucky” not to have to resort to layoffs, Schuster said. The brewery's staff hovers around 10 people.
“We have a really great partnership with food trucks that park out front,” Schuster said. “So we also had a food option for people when things got questionable.”
Two22 also doesn't see much of walk-up or drive-by traffic. “It is our regulars and our neighborhood that really supported us,” Schuster added.
She estimates the brewery has “50 to 75 people I'd consider really regulars that visit a least once a week,” Schuster said, noting that the size of Two22's regular group likely benefits from the brewery's location far out in the suburbs.
As far as patrons who frequent Two22 less often, that number could be in the hundreds, Schuster laughed.
The return of familiar crowds comes as a relief after a long period of staff filling to-go orders in an empty building, Schuster said.
“It's so nice when you walk in and there's the sound of people and interaction,” Schuster said.
“That was so missing for so long. The patrons and the staff alike have an appreciation for being able to interact again.”
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