Freedonia Brewing files for bankruptcy


An entrepreneur’s dream of bringing traditional German lagers to Old Town Fort Collins has ended in bankruptcy, two weeks after a Larimer County District Court judge awarded $115,000 to the would-be brewery’s landlord.

Freedonia Brewing Co. Ltd., which for years attempted to open a brewery in Old Town Fort Collins, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation after never bringing the brewery to fruition.

The company filed for bankruptcy Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado, listing assets and liabilities in the range of $100,001 and $500,000. A list of the largest unsecured creditors had not yet been filed as of BizWest’s deadline.

The filing came just two weeks after Larimer County District Court Judge C. Michelle Brinegar on Nov. 2 awarded Katset LLC, owner of the property at 208 Remington St., $115,005 in damages for various lease violations.

Freedonia in 2016 announced plans to open at 208 Remington St. in Fort Collins. The brewery was to be launched by Ralf Kracke-Berndorff, who relocated from Cologne, Germany, to Fort Collins in 1998 on a research fellowship in microbiology at Colorado State University, according to information on Freedonia’s website.

Kracke-Berndorff could not be reached for comment. An attorney representing him in the bankruptcy case did not respond to a request for comment.

A Youtube video posted four years ago describes the concept behind Freedonia:

“Freedonia is a German brewery which Ralf packed up and shipped to Fort Collins, Colorado,” the narrator states. “It will be one of the few breweries in the country making award-winning German lagers according to a centuries-old Triple Decoction process, using only barley, hops, water and yeast.

“Freedonia is not a startup, but has purchased and installed most of its equipment. However, we need your help to get to the finish line.”

Kracke-Berndorff said in the video that Freedonia “will occupy a unique niche in this rich ecosystem of craft breweries and microbreweries in Fort Collins.”

Freedonia’s website states that Kracke-Berndorff “found a 350-year-old brewery in Germany, bought it lock-stock and barrel (everything but the building,) dismantled it, and had it shipped to Fort Collins, where New Belgium Brewing graciously stored it while he searched for a venue.”

That venue — at 208 Remington St. — provided 2,500 square feet of production space, a 2,500-square-foot taproom and a 2,500-square-foot covered patio.

The 10,690-square-foot building is listed for sale by Cushman & Wakefield for $2.49 million.

A history of issues

Katset initially filed suit against Freedonia in Larimer County District Court in April 2019, alleging violations of a lease agreement, including failure to pay rent. That case was closed in February, 2020, after a joint motion to stay the proceedings after the death of property owner Edward Russell.

Freedonia later that year filed suit against Dairy Engineering Co. of Arvada, accusing the company of damaging a 20-barrel Jacob Carl Copper Kettle during the process of installing a firebox system. That case was settled in September of that year.

Katset filed the recently closed lawsuit in January 2022, alleging violations of the lease agreement related to security, repairs, lease payments and use of premises.

“The tenant’s use of the premises is specifically limited to manufacture, sale, marketing, and distribution of malt beverages,” the complaint stated. “The defendants have leased the premises in excess of six years and have yet to manufacture, sell, market or distribute malt beverages from said premise.

“In addition, tenant has further left the tenancy in an unsightly condition for the past six years having failed to comply with a reasonable construction schedule to rehabilitate and bring the building to a commercial reasonable standard.”

The bankruptcy case is Case No. 23-15323, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado.

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2023 BizWest Media LLC.


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