It’s become a common question around town over the past nine months: Have you been to Cerberus? The brewery opened in fall 2016, in a former veterinary hospital—fitting for an establishment named after the mythological three-headed dog. From the start, it’s made a big impression.
What is it that has catapulted the new dog on the block so quickly into its place as one of Colorado Springs’ leading brewpubs? The answer also seems to come in three: superior beer, elevated seasonal cuisine with some Southern flare, and stellar service.
It all begins with Joshua Adamski and Mark LeFebvre. Owner and head brewer Adamski was the former manager at popular Brewer’s Republic and has home-brewed for well over a decade. Executive chef LeFebvre, a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute Academy, has been running fine dining divisions at upscale resorts, including The Broadmoor, and now has carte blanche to create his own menu.
“I think it comes to both of us personally, who we are as professionals,” LeFebvre says. “He’s always had the highest level of craft beer. And I’ve been in the high-end, five-star, five-diamond industry prior to this, so I was doing elevated service and cuisine for years. So you put us together, and all of a sudden you have an elevated level of brewpub in town.”
The best-of-both combo draws beer aficionados and foodies alike. “It’s about balance,” says Ryan Hannigan, director of liquid intelligence for Focus on the Beer podcast. “Brewpubs put most of the emphasis on the beer and not in the kitchen, but Cerberus has both. It just goes to show that you have to open a good restaurant and brewery to create a true brewpub.”
Adamski’s rich background has given a prodigious edge and a clear vision: Do it right, or don’t do it at all.
“Being in the craft beer-nerd world, I tried as many beers as I can,” Adamski says. “I knew over time what I wanted to have and what I wouldn’t open with. … It reminds me of the Friends episode where Monica is getting married, and she has this book of what her dream wedding is. It’s kind of the same thing but in a brewery.”
You won’t find red Solo cups full of pretzel rods, a revolving door of food trucks or subpar beer at Cerberus. While Adamski’s approachable, layered brewing process receives rave reviews, LeFebvre’s food merits just as much praise. Cerberus stays busy, routinely serving an incredible 500 to 600 meals a day on weekends. LeFebvre credits preparation and flexibility as big elements of their success. “We’re a small enough operation to rethink things and move forward,” he says. “There’s a lot of that every week—what worked, what didn’t—and we’ve continued to evolve.”
Along with the cuisine, the service has been one of the most surprising elements at Cerberus. All servers are cicerone certified within their first three months and able to suggest intelligent beer pairings to heighten the overall dining experience. The open interior and expansive patio set a casually chic atmosphere for it all to come together.
“Essentially the bar gets raised when any new brewery opens in town,” Hannigan says. “Cerberus gave us a significant bump.”
“All the pieces came together,” Adamski says.
If You Like …
Try one of these Cerberus picks and pairings.
IPA: The popular IPA bacon bites and unofficial flagship Tiny Umbrella Party IPA are a natural match. The liquid tropical flavors highlight the starter’s charred oranges, tomato jam and mint oil.
Hop Bombs: Cerberus gets call-in orders all the way from Denver for their signature brisket grilled cheese, served on sourdough bread from local Delicias Bakery. Adamski’s citrusy Elysium IPA adds complexity to the smoky beef. Try the Double Dry Hopped Elysium when it’s on tap.
Summer Sessions: Get ready for bikini season with a salad or indulge with the seasonal strawberry rhubarb cobbler. Both get a complementary boost from the passionfruit saison, Thallo, or crisp flagship NBD Kolsch.