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Why Colorado reigns as the Napa Valley of beer

Coloradans' thirst for new craft brews seems insatiable

Kevin McNab //May 13, 2016//

Why Colorado reigns as the Napa Valley of beer

Coloradans' thirst for new craft brews seems insatiable

Kevin McNab //May 13, 2016//

After a hard day of play, there’s one thing the people of Colorado love: Beer.

“Coloradans love the craft scene,” says Dave Jamison, owner of Twenty Brew TapHouse in Westminster, which offers a constantly rotating selection of Colorado beer and cider. “Colorado is not afraid to venture out and try new and exciting beers.”

Colorado is a big player in mass produced beer with Coors in Golden and Anheuser-Busch in Fort Collins. Having two breweries of this magnitude in one state is impressive. But it’s the craft brew industry that sets Colorado apart.

“With 335 breweries, each offering around 20 selections of beer each, that’s 6,700 beers Twenty Brew TapHouse can choose from just here in Colorado,” Jamison says. “With so many options, rotating our beers provides our patrons with great variety.”

To put this into perspective, the two states that sandwich Colorado in population are Minnesota and South Carolina, which boast 73 and 31 craft breweries respectively as of 2014, according to the Brewers Association.

For Colorado, this amounts to 6.1 breweries per 100,000 adults over the age of 21. Only Oregon and Vermont rank ahead of Colorado in breweries per capita. The craft beer industry accounts for an economic impact on the state economy of slightly more than $2.7 billion and growing.

In addition, Denver is home to the Great American Beer Festival, where the nation’s best brewers convene annually for a beer lover’s dream while bringing in an estimated $10 million annually to the Denver economy. Needless to say, the industry is big and still growing.

Origin of the Beer Revolution

It was known there was a large appetite for libations from miners as they passed through Denver during the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s. As a result, by the time Denver was two years old, there were 35 saloons.

Of course, Coors was founded in 1873 and has grown to be one of the most recognizable brands in the world. In 1978, home brewing was legalized nationally, opening up new opportunities for beer-loving Americans and entrepreneurs.  In 1979, the pioneers of the craft brew industry in Colorado were a couple of professors that founded Boulder Beer in a goat shed.

In 1988, a group of guys founded a brewery in a sketchy part of Denver with no ballpark and no trendy restaurants. They offered good beer and a few pool tables. The Wynkoop Brewery is now in the heart of LoDo and widely thought of as the start of the brewery revolution in Denver.

Of course, one of those young entrepreneurs became the mayor of Denver and is now our governor – John Hickenlooper. Once the Rockies started playing in Coors Field, the race was on for the craft beer industry to satisfy Colorado’s thirst for craft beer and a baseball game.

The Future of the Craft Brew Industry

Colorado is on the frontier of the beverage industry. As the general consumption of beer declines across America, craft beer sales are the only portion of the market share increasing. Craft breweries, which have been historically contained in city centers or the trendy parts of towns, are now popping up all over the suburbs.

The craft brew industry brings growth to Colorado in the form of jobs and tax revenue. Colorado is good for the beer business and the beer business in good for Colorado. Most people that like beer are proud to be from Colorado. Is there another place you can go where the governor made his name in beer before politics? With the creativity of brewers and no limit of flavors, the future is bright in the Colorado craft brew industry.