Alex Teves was one of the 12 people killed in an Aurora movie theatre more than a week ago. He died shielding his girlfriend as the suspected gunman opened fire on the crowd. Alex was a comic book fan, but he also had a passion for craft beer. His favorite place to tip a pint was Copper Kettle Brewing in Denver. Colorado Public Radio’s Ben Markus spent some time there, and reports the tight knit brewery lost more than a customer.
Reporter Ben Markus: The brewery is tucked away in an industrial storefront on the southeastern edge of Denver. The small mom and pop operation is run by Jeremy Gobien. On a recent evening, the tap room was nearly filled with a weekday crowd. Gobien says when he learned of Alex’s death, it changed how he viewed the tragedy.
Jeremy Gobien: Well, it was a very rapid change, from being a news story, to being a personal story.
Reporter: Alex wasn’t a typical beer drinker. He was part of Copper Kettle’s exclusive Brew Club. Gobien opens a cabinet filled with 50 beer steins near the bar. Alex was one of the first customers of this fledgling brewery that opened last year. He was rewarded with a special stein that sits in the cabinet next to a picture of him holding it proudly.
Gobien: And he’s wearing a spiderman shirt, kind of a feed back to going to comic movies and stuff. He was real big into the comics.
Reporter: Gobien says they didn’t know how much the brewery meant to Alex until he talked to his family after the shooting. The family lives out of state, and wanted to come and have a beer where their 24-year-old son so often did. So Gobien closed the bar for a few hours last week so the family could have some privacy.
Gobien: So what we wanted, and really the only thing that we thought we could provide, was a safe place that he enjoyed, for them to come and not be ashamed to smile, to not feel awkward about laughing. Because they probably hadn’t had that in a long time.
Reporter: These are more than just customers to Gobian -- he says it’s like family. Looking around the tap room, he says he can name a third of the beer drinkers off the top of his head. People like Brian Seafore.
Brian Seafore: It’s one of those places, kind of like Cheers, that whole feeling, where you come in and you feel welcome.
Reporter: The regulars go on bowling trips and to the movies together. But the Brew Club members are especially close. Like Alex, Brian Seafore is one of the first members.
Seafore: When we lost Alex, that really felt like losing a brother.
Reporter: To honor Alex, brewmaster Gobien says tomorrow they’re putting on a charity event with proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House, as his family requested.
Gobien: Any money that comes in the door to us, is going directly to the charity.
Reporter: As people come and go from the exclusive Brew Club, Gobien will replace the mugs and pictures. But he says Alex’s will stay in the cabinet forever.
[Photo courtesy of Teves Family]