The Growth of Colorado’s Craft Beer Industry
Brewing beer in Colorado is nothing new. However, circa 1988, the art of craft brewing took off at warp speed in the Centennial State. Let's explore the history and evolution of Colorado's craft beer industry from its early beginnings to its current prominence.
Brewers began appearing in Colorado in 1858, years before the area was recognized as a state. A handful of people made a few bucks here and there producing small batches and selling them to miners around the state. Fast forward to 2023, and the craft brew industry is a force to be reconned with. Here's a quick look as to how Colorado got from point A to B.
Dustin Ramey of the Four Noses Brewing Company in Broomfield, Colorado, stated on the Colorado Brewers Guild webpage, "Colorado and beer have always moved together. When the state sees growth so does the craft beer industry."
Colorado and beer have always shared a certain bond. Does the name Coors ring a bell? According to Ramey, brewers started to appear in Colorado in 1858 when gold was discovered in the area. Rocky Mountain Brewery was founded in 1859, and in a short period of time became the largest brewery between St. Louis and San Francisco. A few years later in 1873, Adolph Coors came to Colorado with a friend, a little money, and a recipe for beer.
Along comes President Jimmy Carter
Coloradobeer.org adds that in 1978, President Jimmy Carter made a contribution to the evolution of craft beer production in Colorado. That year, Carter signed H.R. 1337, allowing for the American public to brew in their homes. Yep, it was that recent, 1978.
Passed on August 25, 1978, H.R. 1337 reads:
Allows any adult (formerly only heads of families) to produce wine and beer for personal and family use and not for sale without incurring the wine or beer excise taxes or any penalties for quantities per calendar year of: (1) 200 gallons if there are two or more adults in the household and (2) 100 gallons if there is only one adult in the household.
Happening Right Now In Colorado
How popular have craft beers become in Colorado? To give you an idea, here's a list, courtesy of Colorado Brewery List, of Colorado breweries currently under construction, with planned opening dates between now, March 21, 2023, and August 2023:
- Bambei Brewing - April 2023 Superior, Colorado
- El Rancho Brewing Company - April 2023 Evergreen, Colorado
- Los Dos Potrillos Cerveceria II - April 2023 Castle Rock, Colorado
- Salt Road Brewing - April 2023 Fort Collins, Colorado
- Sanitas Brewing II - April 2023 Englewood, Colorado
- 4 Noses Brewing - Park Hill - May 2023 Denver, Colorado
- Live Slow Brewing - May 2023 Wheat Ridge, Colorado
- Dauntless Brewing - June 2023 Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Littleton Brew Co - June 2023 Littleton, Colorado
- Bearded Brewer Artisan Ales - July 2023 Longmont, Colorado
- BrewDog RiNo - July 2023 Denver, Colorado
- Prost Brewing (Northglenn Marketplace) - July 2023 Northglenn, Colorado
- WestFax Brewing Colorado Springs Taproom - August 2023 Colorado Springs, Colorado
Again, these are the breweries currently under construction in Colorado with opening dates before August 2023. There are another 40 breweries in development in Colorado with no projected opening date.
Putting It In Perspective
How did we get from there to here? Katie Ketchum published an amazing timeline on the website 5280 Denver's Mile High Magazine documenting "18 Events That Shaped Colorado's Craft Beer Scene."