Eric Serani has long had his eyes on the sky. His grandfather, a pilot, assembled private airplanes in his garage and helped Serani complete his first solo flight on his 16th birthday. Upon turning 21, he picked up another hobby—craft brewing—and while those pursuits wouldn’t seem to mesh, Serani, a former aerospace engineer at Boeing, has tied them together at FlyteCo Brewing.
In 2019, Serani and friends Jason Slingsby and Morgan O’Sullivan opened their brewery and taproom in Northwest Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood. From beer names (the C-47 Skytrain Berliner Weisse) to design touches (serving trays shaped like planes), the owners always hewed to an aviation theme. They really, ahem, elevated that idea last summer, though, with the opening of a second location, the FlyteCo Tower, a 20,000-square-foot brewery, restaurant, and entertainment center in a defunct air traffic control tower on the site of Denver’s old Stapleton International Airport.
“We are excited to have found a home in one of Colorado’s most historic aviation landmarks,” Serani says. “As a kid, I have many fond memories of flying from Stapleton to Chicago O’Hare International Airport to visit my grandparents. Now, we’ve created an incredible space for our community to come together.”
The higher levels of the control tower remain off-limits, but the team is hoping to be able to open it as a cocktail bar in the future. Until then, aeronautic elements include live air traffic control chatter playing in the bathrooms, artifacts on loan from the nearby Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, and taxiway markings on the floors.
The connection isn’t limited to aesthetics. Serani and Slingsby both have their pilot’s licenses, and FlyteCo donates 10 percent of its profits to the future of aviation, including providing scholarships to help aspiring pilots get their wings. “Supporting aviation and spreading the bug, as we like to call it, is my passion, and also the mission of the business,” Serani says. “[We’re] trying to give people who can’t afford it an opportunity to get their pilot’s licenses.”
Serani even puts his piloting skills to use for the brewery. Every August, he leads a squadron of small planes to Colorado’s Western Slope to pick up fresh hops that go into FlyteCo’s Hop Is My Co-Pilot IPA. He and his dad built the RV-10 aircraft he flies on that mission in his garage—an homage to the grandfather who first sent him skyward.