The creative brain behind one of Colorado Springs’ newest breweries is usually found in the fermentation room early in the mornings. The room’s air is humid and yeast-filled, with colorful stickers adorning the beer equipment and ’90s rock playing on the radio.
Mike Centanne, brewer and co-owner of Urban Animal Beer Co., says this is where he fits best.
“Years ago I think we hit the glory days of the brewery scene — when things were just beginning to explode,” Centanne said. “I remember seeing sort of the DIY setups of a lot of the earlier breweries and thinking this is where I belong.”
Urban Animal opened last fall in the former China Doll space on Star Ranch Road, an unassuming location surrounded by dentists’ offices and various restaurants. But despite its strip mall whereabouts, Centanne said Urban Animal’s first year’s success is in line with his former brewery, Iron Bird Brewing Co., which shut down during the pandemic.
“I think people are just excited there’s a brewery here,” Centanne said. “I’ve gotten to work with a lot of ideas I’ve had saved up for years.”
Centanne works alongside his business partners Mandy and Bryan Bradigan, who handle much of the front-of-house happenings. Centanne finds the most joy working with different beers, some current additions being a peach-cobbler flavored sour ale, “Peach Songbird,” and a lemon zest and black currants infused ale, “Pitchfork.”
“Brew days are the best days,” Centanne said. “It’s what makes all the other parts of the job worth it. I get to see the work paid off.”
Although he’s rarely poking around during business hours, Centanne’s hands have touched every inch of the front lobby. From the backsplash of tiles on the bar’s walls to the booths, Centanne has designed the space into the chic, industrial cove that it is now.
“Mike Fudge worked on the mural; that’s about all I didn’t touch,” Centanne said. “Well, I’d paint any blocks of area he wanted me to. So I guess I’ve touched that too.”
Fudge is a prominent Colorado-based artist whose work captures a mixture of ancient cultures and traditions alongside personified animals. He’s worked with musical artists like Foo Fighters, Phish, Blink-182 and the Pixies as well as on magazine covers and other business ventures like Urban Animal. Urban Animal’s mural takes up the whole west wall of the space: a rust red and periwinkle blue panda bear carrying a folding flag and connecting bands.
The garage doors on the south end of the shop open up to a well-lit patio with more tables and seating for customers to enjoy their brews and meal. Urban Animal hosts food trucks nearly every night of the week, including local favorites like Doki Doki and Go Fish.
“Food trucks kind of bring in their own crowd by themselves,” Centanne said. “Now there are so many different food truck companies that we get to have our pick of who to work with. It all comes down to who is the most reliable, honestly.”
Urban Animal also hosts a few events throughout the week like weekly trivia nights every Monday and the occasional Sunday morning Pints and Poses, a beer and yoga class. Whether you show up for a seasoned brewer’s take on new beer trends, local food trucks or the Easter eggs of design in the lobby, Urban Animal offers an eclectic brewery experience for everyone.