When you take a seat at the bar at Brewability Lab in Denver, prepare to pick a color. A large chalkboard sign displays the brewery’s beer selection in hues — blue (raspberry sour), red (strawberry blond), white (pale ale), yellow (Hefeweizen) and purple (coffee porter). It’s a gimmick with a purpose: Ordering a beer by its color makes work easier for Brewability’s “beertenders” who can’t read.
Some Brewability employees can read, others can’t. Most can see, but one is blind. Most register on the autism spectrum. All are capable workers in a brewery that’s making a difference.
Brewability Lab founder Tiffany Fixter ran a day program for adults with developmental disabilities before she opened the brewery a year ago amid some warehouses in northeast Denver. She wanted to create a business that would employ adults with disabilities because she saw how difficult it can be for them to find meaningful jobs. She liked the idea of running a brewery because they’re social places, and many adults with disabilities feel isolated from other adults.
“I wanted a community space. I wanted (Brewability Lab’s employees) to be social in their active community, and it’s working,” Fixter said. “Every single one of them is significantly better than the day they started.”
Patrick Hill spoke only a few words at a time when he started working at Brewability and his shifts often ended after 10 minutes, Fixter said. Now, Hill works 10 hours a week as a beertender and talks with co-workers and customers. He has a “fan club” of guests who enjoy his company and his antics, like dancing and singing along to songs like “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys.
“I think (Brewability Lab) is a great opportunity for people like my son. He gets a lot of fulfillment out of working here, and he’s more confident in himself since he started working here,” said Patrick Hill’s mother, Bernie Hill.
If Hill’s not at the bar, you might find Nick Wrape serving beers — and singing at the top of his lungs when his “drinking song,” “Raise Your Glass” by Pink, comes over the sound system. His customers smile and join Wrape in a toast when Pink sings “Come on and raise your glass!”
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Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle