Jose D. Beteta and Tamil Maldonado Vega from Raíces Brewing Company

Owners of Raíces Brewing Company, Left to Right: Martin D. Vargas, Jose D. Beteta & Tamil Maldonado Vega.   Raíces Brewing Company is so much more than a place that makes great beer; it’s a community center, a cultural center, and it’s a space for every guest to connect to their roots. In fact, Raíces, …

Client Spotlight

Owners of Raíces Brewing Company, Left to Right: Martin D. Vargas, Jose D. Beteta & Tamil Maldonado Vega.


Raíces Brewing Company is so much more than a place that makes great beer; it’s a community center, a cultural center, and it’s a space for every guest to connect to their roots. In fact, Raíces, meaning roots in Spanish, was very carefully built on three pillars: community, culture, and of course, cerveza. Every day they celebrate Latinx narratives through their many cultural programs, allowing all to come together over delicious beer in the heart of Denver, CO.

When you walk in, you’ll see a large open space inviting the natural world inside and roots woven throughout the bar paying homage to their culture. “You’re included because everybody has roots from someplace.” Tamil Maldonado Vega, VP of Development at Raíces brewing told us when we sat down with her and her husband, Jose Beteta, their CEO. They walked us through their journey into the brewing industry, ultimately crafting a stage for the community they love. All are invited to come celebrate Latin culture at Raíces through food, music, dance, art, intellectual discussions, beer and so much more. 


Nancy Trigg: How did you find yourselves in the brewing industry?

Jose Beteta: I was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. I came here with my family when I was a little kid—I’m one of many brothers and sisters… I lost count now! I’m an immigrant and was undocumented until about 2 years ago. 

I grew up in Frederick, Maryland and then went to Howard University in Washington, DC where I studied tech, business and IT. When my wife (Tamil) was attending Howard she got an internship opportunity at NCAR in Boulder, CO. That’s when we made that jump from DC to Colorado. We were pretty confident about how our skills could transfer for us to survive—so we just took that leap of faith. 

 I’ve been able to accomplish a lot. I became the first undocumented Commissioner in the country when I served in the Human Rights Commission for The City of Boulder. Combining the work I was doing before with the chamber and the work my wife did through a cultural nonprofit, we stumbled upon the idea of a Latino brewery. 

We started asking ourselves, well what does that mean, a Latino Brewery? A brewery that is owned by Latinos? We decided it has to be more than that and the cultural piece became the centerpiece of our whole project.

We celebrate culture first and foremost and we do it through the food, through our programs and everything that we do. That is how we came across Raíces. 

I want to present to you Tamil. Tamil is my wife, she is also the co-owner and co-founder of Raíces. She’s also the VP and does… everything. I’ll let her explain her role! 

Tamil Vega: I develop our programming and the heart of Raíces in terms of two of our pillars: community and culture. The third pillar for Raíces is cerveza, beer, but I’m also a little bit involved with that. I run an internship program to create diversity in the craft beer industry—building opportunity in the community to become part of the industry.

Image courtesy of Raíces Brewing Company

Nancy: Tell me about the origin story for Raíces. What was your journey and how did your original concept evolve?

Jose: It started probably 4 or 5 years before the brewery. Tamil had started a project called Barrio E’. Want to tell them about Barrio E’ first?

Tamil: Barrio E’ is an organization and a group that fosters arts and culture in Colorado. We ran events that were very inclusive and triggering diversity—but diversity in an interactive way rather than just a concept. We started doing different events until we got a center that we ran for a year. With that center, we collected data about the needs of the community and why people were using our center. We knew a little bit (vastly now!) of the community’s needs and struggles. The next step was to have the center and invite people to come and share our culture so we can tell our own narratives of identity. 

Jose: We had to close that center because the building didn’t belong to us—it was sold and we didn’t have a couple million dollars laying around to buy it ourselves. A few months went by. I was doing an executive leadership class and went out with my friends after one of the classes and we stopped at a bar. We thought, you know, it would be really cool if there was a Latino bar where Latinos could feel included. I started doing research and found out that we were highly under-represented in the ownership plateau. We thought, well this is a really good opportunity for us to fill that void. As time went by we morphed that project into what it is right now with the three pillars: community, culture, and beer. 

Tamil: We have expanded not only for performers and artists, but also as a platform for small business. We have food trucks and support them in being visible in the community. We opened Raíces Gallería for visual artists who display their art in our building. We’ve done markets with small businesses and artisans— providing the space so they can sell their products. 

All of the different things that the community needs to feel supported and to be more visible—that’s what Raíces is about. 

We say it’s Raíces Cervecería because the way that we can make money to sustain ourselves is through a quality product: beer. At the same time, we are supporting so much more and that’s why we are a community center, a cultural center, and a resource center. Not only a brewery.

Image courtesy of Raíces Brewing Company

Nancy: Tell us more about the experience in your taproom.

Tamil: If it is a day where we don’t have programming you will come in and immediately hear Latino music. We try to play not only popular music but folkloric music, cultural music, things that people have heard and things that people haven’t heard. 

You see our logo—our logo has a lot of meaning. It’s a hop, but it’s also a mask. The reason we have a mask is because in Latin America, in the Carribean, pretty much every region has a mask. So, how can we portray home in terms of our culture and at the same time be unique? We created our own mask.

You see the roots on the bar. The root is about paying homage to our culture. It’s in Spanish because we wanted to appeal to a population that has been segregated and pushed apart. We wanted to tell them, “Hey, this is your home”. It’s about roots: where are you coming from and what is your identity? You’re included because everybody has roots from someplace. 

You see beautiful garage doors across the room, inviting all that nature inside. The Platte River is right next to us. People feel they’re connected with nature and with the elements. 

You see a beautiful mural about Raíces that we made with another artist where we say who we are. We are inviting everyone to celebrate Latin American but we are feeding the world through roots. 

Nancy: What are some examples of programming at Raíces?

Tamil: Sometimes we are celebrating Venezuela, sometimes we are celebrating Puerto Rico. Or sometimes we’re celebrating and supporting the community. 

We get really involved with partnerships and help them organize the event. We believe in leadership from the community to capture the ideas and the needs of the community—then when they don’t know what to do, we do know what to do. People come here with ideas and then we support them with the space. 

Tomorrow we are going to have a panelist talk about the LGBTQ community. On Saturday we’re going to have a concert outside and the performers are releasing a new song broadcasting live through KGNU Community radio. They are Latinos and they don’t have other spots to do this. 

On Tuesdays, we’re hosting a seminar about Racismo Zero: How To End Racism.

So everything for us is feeding each other and that’s why it’s so important to us to have Raíces and provide the opportunity and the space to the community.  

Nancy: Talk to me about your team. I’d love to hear about the people.

Tamil: All of the people that we hire have a connection with community and culture. It doesn’t matter if their background is Latino or not. All of them have different backgrounds and their heritage is from different places, especially Latin America and the Carribean, but we’ve also had people from the US that have had that connection and they wanted to maintain it somehow. 

We have just amazing people working with us who are very committed in pushing our mission forward. 

Image courtesy of Raíces Brewing Company

Nancy: And your brewery is a bilingual establishment, correct?

Tamil: Yeah. Not only are our beer servers bilingual but also the names of our beers and products are in two languages. The reason for this is because we want to include people that don’t speak Spanish so they can feel comfortable asking for a beer. Including Latinos who don’t speak Spanish—which has been a barrier between Latinos. To say “Oh you’re not Latino enough because you don’t speak Spanish” or “You’re not Latino enough because this or that”. 

That barrier of language disappears at Raíces for that very reason. We want everybody to feel included.

Nancy: Can you tell us a little bit about the unique things you’re making?

Jose: I’ve got to give a lot of props to our partner, Martín Vargas, because he’s a genius with everything that he puts out. They’ve all been homeruns so far. Right now we have a pretty interesting set of beers that are doing really well. We have 8 national medals for 4 of our beers. Raíz (Root), our Mexican lager has two gold medals. Latina, a Belgian American pale ale, Furia (Fury), a red and Valle Del Sol (Sun Valley), which is our summer ale.  

One of the beers that is doing really well is Cafecito (Small Coffee), our coffee blonde—there’s a lot of meaning behind this beer. We use a local coffee roaster called Copper Door, which is a women-owned roaster. Copper Door sources the beans that we use from indigenous women owned coffee fields in Guatemala. 

Beermosas have been amazing, it’s one of the things that we sell the most. We started out with just the original one with orange using our celebration beer, Celebración (Celebration) as a base, which is a delicious very champagne-like beer. We added three more flavors: cranberry, pineapple, and passion fruit. 

Tamil: We make them differently, too, because we have them in kegs.

Jose:  We recently did a collaboration with three other Latino breweries called Travesura (Mischief). That one is a cream ale base brewed with purple and blue corn from Peru, cacao shells, coffee, cinnamon, and chilis. It’s a pretty amazing beer. 

Tamil: It’s inspired by Latin America because cacao goes all the way back in our history. Cacao and coffee have been a very important economical base for people in the Caribbean and in different parts of Latin America.

Nancy: You’ve had a lot of success in a short amount of time! I saw you were awarded the best new brewery in the Denver Westword. What are the things that you feel have contributed to your success, even through the difficult experience?

Jose: I think it comes down to experience, connections, and planning. Tamil runs the whole HR department—choosing the right talent for that experience in the taproom is really important to us. In terms of management, we try to stay on top of news so that we can plan ahead for whatever changes come our way, but we also try to be very flexible. 

Tamil: Being really in touch with our reality and with our community has been something that people appreciate. The programming is not the same every single day, but I have people that come every single day to see what we’re up to. 

Jose:  We’re risk takers. We are not afraid to throw a couple of ideas here and there to see if they work. If they don’t, then fine, but if they do work… well, there are some things that have been so wildly successful, especially in programming, that we had to pull back because it is too much. 

Image courtesy of Raíces Brewing Company

Nancy: It sounds like you pay attention to trends, where do you see the future of the craft beverage industry?

Tamil: I really would like to see more diversity— at Raíces, we are promoting that diversity. Latinos make up .06% nationally of brewery owners. I would like to get more people in the industry pipeline, in the business, beer serving, and all of that. 

Jose: From the very beginning we knew that we had to be about the experience. We didn’t want to just have a taproom, we wanted to have an experience that was going to be very central to what we were going to do. 

The future is flavors. We try to be flexible to see what people are into. Our clientele consists of people who have not had the experience of being in a brewery in the first place. We’re opening the door to the community to come into the craft beer industry and experience, so we want to be very flexible and have a lot of choices for them. We serve them as educators. That will bring the Latino community not just into our place but into other breweries too. We’re opening that door and getting more people to come into the craft beer side.

Tamil: Authenticity and uniqueness is going to be a must have. Being very genuine and focusing on something that you like, something that you’re passionate about, is going to trigger people to come to your brewery. 

Image courtesy of Raíces Brewing Company

Nancy: I loved learning more about your business and we’re excited to tell your story. I’m going to wrap it up by letting you say anything you want to add about your brewery or experience. Anything that you would want to add to encourage people to come check you guys out.

Jose: Well even before it gets to the point I wanted to say thanks to Arryved. We’re very happy with the way the system works and with the new features that you keep adding. You’ve made our lives very easy.

Tamil: In general it has been amazing to have your system because, like Jose was saying, it just facilitates so much. Our stresses haven’t been with the POS! It has been a facilitator for us so thank you for that. 

Jose: For Covid, I had to travel a couple of times and being able to log onto the online portal and check how things are going was very game-changing. We love that.

Tamil: The reports and analysis of data, we look at that—at the beers that have been sold, at what times and if my programming fit into that [timeframe]. If sales are low, let’s say on a Wednesday at 3 or 4 p.m. then I bring some programming to compensate

Jose: Having said that, we invite everyone to experience Latin culture at Raíces. It’s a very beautiful space. We want to thank Westword for naming us 2020 Best New Brewery Taproom. We want to invite people to come and see what that’s all about because it’s delicious beers, a great atmosphere and experience, and the programming is amazing as well.

Tamil: We post everything on our Facebook and Instagram for programming, events, calendars for food trucks and opportunities to join  Raíces Nation, our volunteer program. 

Jose: Thank you!