Alumni

Alum couple crafts brewery with a social mission

University of Denver grads Paige Schuster and her husband, Marcus Christianson, opened Two22 Brew in February. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

University of Denver grads Paige Schuster and her husband, Marcus Christianson, opened Two22 Brew in February. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

What’s the story behind the name of Two22 Brew? It’s not the address of the brewery in Centennial, Colo. — nor does it have anything to do with the alcohol content of any of Two22’s offerings.

Here’s the story: The brewery’s owners — University of Denver grads Paige Schuster and her husband, Marcus Christianson — started the business with the intent of giving back to the community, and $2.22 out of every $10 the brewery makes is donated to Colorado nonprofits.

“My dad died in a plane crash when I was 17, so my mom and I had started a family foundation after that to honor his name and his memory,” Schuster says. “We had been looking at ways to expand the foundation and grow the foundation, and I realized I really dislike asking people for money and going out and looking for donations to expand our funds.”

So the family started looking into other options, focusing on charitable companies like TOMS shoes, which donates a pair of shoes for every pair it sells.

“We needed a profitable model that could then expand the nonprofit side,” Schuster explains. She and her husband had studied chemistry and biology at DU and had been homebrewers for years, so a leap into Colorado’s fast-growing craft-beer scene seemed a natural fit. They found their location near a CrossFit gym where they work out — Schuster got wind that the shopping center’s landlord was looking for a brewery to add to his tenant roster.

“We’re in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of social options; there’s not a whole lot to do out in this area of Centennial/Aurora,” Schuster says. “The response from the immediate neighborhood has been fantastic — people have been so welcoming and so happy to have us and have something to do. So we’ve gotten a really neighborhood crowd, and then of course you get all the beer buffs who make it their weekend mission to try out every new brewery in Colorado.”

Those beer buffs can choose from eight house-brewed beers at Two22, including standbys like blonde ale, milk stout and IPA, plus something a little more distinctive: a red cinnamon ale.

“That’s the beer we brewed the most prior to opening,” Schuster says. “It started out as a basic red ale, and then just in trial and error and messing around with it and looking at what could be a fun option for it, we started adding cinnamon to it a little at a time to kind of find a good mix. It’s a red ale with just a hint of cinnamon — people expect it to be like a fireball, but it’s really just a spiced beer.”

The couple’s science background certainly helps when it comes to brewing, but when it comes to the teamwork needed to run a successful business, Schuster and Christianson draw on another aspect of their DU experience — athletics. Christianson, who grew up in Minnesota, came to the University as a swimmer, while Loveland, Colo., native Schuster was on the gymnastics team.

“We both had really positive experiences at DU, both athletically and academically,” Schuster says. “Being in the athletic world, you get a really good community base because you already have that bubble of people who are really supportive of what you’re doing.”

So far Denver beer lovers have been equally supportive of Two22 Brew — and it turns out there’s a little more to the story behind that numeric name.

“In the planning stages and in the decision process of ‘Wow, are we both really going to quit our teaching jobs and open a business?’ I was literally waking up every night at 2:22 in the morning,” Schuster says. “Every time I would wake up and look at the clock, it was 2:22. And we figured that if we give $2.22 of every 10 dollars of profit, we’re almost right at the 20 percent we want to donate.

“And we ended up being able to open on February 22,” she says, “which was pretty cool.”

 

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