Colorado’s history is one of booms and busts. First it was gold, then it was silver, then it was oil, and now … ? It’s beer. Lager, ale, stout, or sour — it doesn’t matter. If it’s Colorado-brewed beer, it’s booming.
At the CCBHOF, we work hard to ensure this particular boom keeps on keeping on. One method is keeping the Colorado craft-beer-loving public and its brewers informed of all the golden (and amber, and red, and weiss, and dark malty brown … ) riches our state is brewing.
Our Craft Beer Directory for the 2019 Gold Rush reveals more than 500 of them — plus a few interesting numbers. But before we get to those, there are a few things to note.
First, because Colorado Craft Breweries are so numerous, we break down the gold mines (microbreweries) into 10 different regions:
Second, by no means exhaustive, our list is informed by a variety of sources — craft industry bibles like the Drinkers Guides, the Denver Business Journal, and the Denver Post, as well as the Colorado Brewers Guild and Brewers Association. In all, we identify 512 locations that brew and serve their own fermented beverages. That can include taprooms, microbreweries, meaderies, brew pubs, and craft brewers. We don’t include distilleries.
Admittedly, our data isn’t perfect. Our aim is to visit every location in Colorado but, as any true aficionado knows, beer-drinking road trips do not (and should not) happen in fast fashion. We believe in enjoying beer; not inhaling it and hitting the gas to get to the next brewery. As such, we don’t confirm brewery status.
And while we fervently embrace and support independents, it would do a disservice to all brewers and the folks who love them to ignore the millions of barrels of beer brewed and served by the 800-pound gorillas in the room — big boys like AB and Coors, and chains such as CB Potts and Rock Bottom.
All that said, let’s take a look at what we found when comparing data from January 2017 and January 2019:
There is no question that in the largest markets along the front range, from Ft. Collins to Colorado Springs, the craft beer business is exceptionally competitive. You need great beer, a great atmosphere, and great service to succeed and differentiate yourself. In short, step up your gold-panning game, or … bust.
Words like unprecedented, unparalleled and extraordinary don’t adequately describe our situation. For Colorado, this is the bust that always follows the boom. Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures.