STAPLETON’S DEFUNCT AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER FINDS NEW LIFE AS A BREWPUB CONCEIVED BY PILOTS.
FlyteCo co-founders Jason Slingsby, Morgan O’Sullivan and Eric Serani. PHOTO COURTESY OF FLYTECO BREWING
A large mural sets the tone in the circular bar. PHOTO COURTESY OF FLYTECO BREWING
MICROBREWS AND AVIATION might seem like an odd pairing. But for the entrepreneurs behind FlyteCo Tower (flytecotower.com), an aviation-themed brewery located at the base of a decommissioned air traffic control tower, it’s the perfect homage to the golden age of air travel.
Eric Serani got hooked on flying early on. “My grandfather gave me a ride in his 1946 Aeronca Champ when I was three. We’d fly from Broomfield to Erie to get pancakes in Greeley,” he says. He got his pilot’s license at 16 and built an experimental Vans RV-10 four-seater with his dad in the family garage. Serani earned two degrees in aerospace engineering at University of Colorado Boulder, where he met Jason Slingsby, a budding chemical engineer and, coincidentally, a private pilot whose grandfather flew aerobatics in air shows. In college, they started brewing beer together.
Serani worked in Seattle at Boeing on the 747, but he had entrepreneurial aspirations. “I couldn’t sit still in a cubicle,” he says. When he moved back to Colorado, he and Slingsby started home brewing in his backyard. Serani’s neighbor Morgan O’Sullivan, who was working in the sales and service industries, was curious about the hops percolating next door. In 2019, the trio launched FlyteCo Brewery, where you can sip 20 brews on tap inside a 737 fuselage. Three years later, they opened FlyteCo Tower in Central Park, a suburban Denver neighborhood crisscrossed by former runways.
Decorated with exhibits borrowed from Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum and old terminal signs from Stapleton, the 25,000-square-foot venue has multiple dining spots, entertainment spaces, bars and patios. “It has a 1960s PanAm Catch Me if You Can vibe,” O’Sullivan says. “We’re trying to capture some of that nostalgia.” This summer, an elevated bar will open on the third floor, complete with three virtual golf simulator bays. The long-range vision includes a high-end cocktail lounge staged at the very top of the tower, with the control room’s unrestricted 360-degree views of Denver’s cityscape and the foothills. FlyteCo will continue to donate 10% of proceeds to support the future of aviation.
In the fall, the team caravans in small private planes to the Western Slope to pick up several hundred pounds of fresh hops from Billy Goat Hop Farm, which they fly back to Denver to craft a seasonal IPA called “Hop is My Co- Pilot.” “The gas costs more than the hops, but that’s not the point,” Serani says. “It’s a great excuse to go flying.”