2019 Navigator: Mountain Tap Brewery focuses on quality craft beer and philanthropy

Business of the Year: Mountain Tap Brewery

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When a new brewery seems to sprout every day in Colorado, it can be hard for any particular one to stand out. 

Mountain Tap Brewery, which opened its doors along Yampa Street in 2016, has done just that, becoming the first brewery in Steamboat to win a Navigator Award.

It has done so in part by being a destination not just for beer drinking, but also for philanthropic fundraising.

In the past three years, the brewery has donated more than $26,000 to local nonprofits through its Token Tuesdays program, according to Wendy Tucciarone, who owns the business with her husband, Rich. 

“We wanted to open a place that reflected the vibe of Steamboat,” she said, who met her husband here in the ‘90s. 

For them, that meant making Mountain Tap a community-centered business with a causal, outdoorsy feel. 

They renovated what used to be a garage for electrical utility trucks into a roomy, high-ceiling hangout with a garage door that, during most summer evenings, remains open to let in the breeze and sunshine.  

Rows of long picnic-style tables serve as the primary seating, which fosters conversation among strangers from near and far, according to the brewery’s general manager, Jeff Goodhand.

“Guests want to find out about living here, and locals want to find out why guests are here,” he said. 

If you go

What: 2019 Navigator Awards

When: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6

Where: The Steamboat Grand, 2300 Mount Werner Road

Tickets: $65 per person; $650 for VIP table for 10; purchase online at

Rich Tucciarone, a longtime brewer who studied fermentation at Cornell University, enjoys the freedom of operating his own beer operation. All of the brews get made on-site in silver, metal chambers. 

What the system lacks in size it makes up for in flexibility. Mountain Tap often serves specialty, limited-time beers to celebrate particular organizations or events. During last year’s Colorado Public Lands Day, Tucciarone whipped up a Belgian-style saison, made with ingredients all grown in the state. 

The approach appears to be working. This summer, after the garage doors opened and the day’s shadows stretched into twilight, it was not uncommon for every table to have guests around it. 

During each week’s Token Tuesdays, customers receive a token for each beer they buy. They can choose to drop it in the bin of one of four local nonprofits. The options change every month, except for the nonprofit that garners the most donations, which is dubbed “King of the Mountain Tap” and allowed to keep its bin an additional month. 

Among the groups to benefit from the funding is Routt County Search and Rescue. Composed of a dedicated team of volunteers, the nonprofit gets 40% of its operating budget from donations.

“It has been a nice, steady income stream for us,” Jay Bowman, the group’s president, said of Token Tuesdays. 

Some of those funds helped the rescue group upgrade its technology in August, which will make it easier for volunteers to find people lost in the backcountry.

Reflecting back to when the brewery was just a concept pinned to a dream, Wendy and Rich Tucciarone expressed their gratitude to the visitors and Steamboat community that have made it a reality.

“Mountain Tap turned out exactly like we hoped it would,” Wendy said. 

Past years’ winners

BUSINESS LEADERS OF THE YEAR 1999 — Julie Green; 2000 — Rod Hanna; 2001 — Mike Lomas; 2002 — Andy Wirth; 2003 — Scott Ford; 2004 — Steve Dawes; 2005 — John Kerst; 2006 — Chris Diamond; 2007 — David Baldinger Jr.; 2008 — Rex Brice; 2009 — Chuck Porter; 2010 — David Nagel; 2011 — Grant Fenton; 2012 — Karl Gills; 2013 — Jim Schneider; 2014 — Ed MacArthur; 2015 — Bob Dapper; 2016 — Scott Marr; 2017 — Adonna Allen ; 2018 — Mark Walker

YOUNG PROFESSIONALS OF THE YEAR 2009 — Stacy Huffman; 2010 — Ryan Marsden; 2011 — Sara Ferris; 2012 — Stephany Traylor; 2013 — Chris Tamucci; 2014 — Sarah Fox; 2015 — Glen Traylor; 2016 — Nick Sharp; 2017 — Tara Weaver; 2018 — Jason Peasley

BUSINESSES OF THE YEAR 1999 — TIC; 2000 — Native Excavating; 2001 — Ore House at the Pine Grove; 2002 — SmartWool; 2003 — Ski Haus; 2004 — PostNet; 2005 — F.M. Light & Sons; 2006 — Off the Beaten Path bookstore; 2007 — Prudential Steamboat Realty; 2008 — Christy Sports; 2009 — BAP!; 2010 — Yampa Valley Bank; 2011 — Alpine Bank; 2012 — Colorado Mountain College; 2013 — Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare; 2014 — Yampa Valley Medical Center; 2015 — Rex’s Family of Restaurants; 2016 — Chief Theater; 2017 — Steamboat Springs Arts Council; 2018 — Freshies

SERVICE EXCELLENCE PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR: 2017 — Barbara Robinson; 2018 — Jason and Kelly Landers

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

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