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Denton's Audacity Brew House set to close Nov. 11

Audacity Brew House, the first brewery to open in Denton in 2014, will officially close its door at the end of business Saturday, Nov. 11. 

Doug Smith, owner and head brewer, notified investors Wednesday he would begin the process of closing the company. He confirmed the news to the Denton Record-Chronicle on Thursday. 

"We started Audacity with the dream of being a piece of what makes Denton beautiful," he said in a prepared statement. "We wanted a place for beer lovers to call home, where they would always find friends, and I believe we achieved that with our regulars who we call the Audacity Family."

In the note to investors, Smith said taproom sales were not growing enough to keep the company open. However, Smith said during a phone interview Thursday the real problem is disagreements between investors.

At 1012 Shady Oaks Drive, the brewery aimed to put Denton on the map in the craft beer world.

The cans for Audacity's signature Sunset Lager feature an image of the Courthouse on the Square, and its beers can be found at most restaurants around Denton. It's also distributed throughout the North Texas region, from Kroger grocery stores to craft beer stores like the Bearded Monk in Denton. 

Ben Esely, co-owner of Bearded Monk, said part of what made Audacity different from other companies was its community involvement. From donating beer kegs to different charity events to sponsoring events like Day of the Dead, it has continued to give back to Denton. 

"It's really disheartening to hear that a craft brewery in this town couldn't stay open, especially one that has been such a supporter for the community," Esely said. "They've been wonderful neighbors to us and very supportive of our initiative to grow the recognition of craft beer in this town, and they're just wonderful people." 

In Smith's official statement about the brewery closing, he emphasized the company's work in the community. 

"We wanted to give as much back to Denton as we get by living and working in this great city so we started the Lil D collaboration project to promote the amazing pieces of Denton," he wrote. "We have had the amazing fortune to work with great festivals in town like Oaktopia, Jazz Fest, Thin Line Film Fest, and Day of the Dead. We have been blessed to give back to the community by working with Serve Denton, Friends of the Family, the Homeless Coalition, United Way, Interfaith Ministries, Pints for Polio, I Am Dog, Fox Trot, 4 the One and many other great organizations."

The brewery also had partnerships with several venues and festivals around North Texas, most notably with Texas Motor Speedway. Since 2016, its beer "No Limits Checkered Past" has been the official beer of the speedway and was made specifically for its audiences. It also is sold in stores throughout the region.

"Denton's such a wonderful community. We're always trying to find ways that we can add to the greatness of Denton," Smith said when the beer was released in March 2016. "Pairing with the largest sports venue and really showing that it's more Denton and less Fort Worth is important to us."

It's hard to tell how much longer Audacity beer will be on the shelves because that depends on the distributors the company uses, Smith said.

It's going to try to sell as much beer as it can in the coming weeks at the taproom, as well, and will send the rest home with the company's seven employees, Smith said. 

He noted one of the hardest parts of folding the business is leaving his staff without jobs. Smith said when he sat them down and told them the decision to close the brewery, they all immediately got up and hugged him. 

"My greatest enjoyment has come from working with an amazing group of people," Smith said. "Every one of my co-workers have been dedicated, passionate and an honor to work with. I hope that everyone who has enjoyed Audacity over the past three years has a chance to come say goodbye."

The next steps are to take account of the company's assets and liabilities and sell off brewing equipment. Once debts are paid, the remainder will be allocated to investors by the end of the year, Smith wrote in his email to shareholders.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889.