Breckenridge Brewing may consider moving to the East Coast after being stymied by lawmakers

Categories: Beer Man

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Update: Breckenridge Brewery released this statement this afternoon as a result of confusion over their future plans: "There have been some questions today about Breckenridge Brewery's plans after Colorado House Bill 1347 failed to progress. (See article in Denver Business Journal.) Breckenridge Brewery is proud of its Colorado heritage and is thankful for the interest in its future plans. We're exploring all of our options as we continue to grow our business in Colorado and across the U.S. We look forward to sharing more information on our plans as they progress."

Founded in the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains in 1990, Breckenridge Brewing has always been one of the craft brewing companies that defined Colorado. But now, as Breckenridge deals with the rejection of a proposed law that would have helped it grow in Colorado, the brewery's ties to Colorado hang in the balance.

The Denver Business Journal reported today that Breckenridge "will look to build its new brewery on the East Coast, taking with it 50 to 75 jobs that otherwise would have been created in the Denver area." The paper quoted company president Ed Cerkovnik, who runs the restaurant side of the business.

Not so fast, says Todd Usry, brewmaster and operations manager. "We will be evaluating all of our options over the next couple of days."

In April, Usry announced that Breckenridge planned to leave its Denver headquarters for a brand-new, 125,000-square-foot brewery, tasting room, restaurant and visitors center that it planned to build on ten acres in the metro area, possibly near Littleton. The estimated $15 million project would enable the company to make 100,000 barrels of beer per year from the outset, and as much as 200,000 barrels down the road.

But the brewery also needed help from the state legislature, which was considering a measure, House Bill 1347, that would have allowed brewpubs -- businesses that operate breweries and restaurants on the same site -- to increase the amount of beer they make from 60,000 to 300,000 barrels per year without changing their business model.

Breckenridge is currently the only Colorado brewery that's maxed out under the law. Other large brewery/restaurants -- like Oskar Blues, Rock Bottom, and Mountain Sun -- operate under different arrangements and with different licenses.

But that bill will likely die this week without any more discussion after a coalition of other brewers -- both large and small -- opposed it, saying it would give Breckenridge an unfair business advantage.

Now, it appears that everything is on the table, including a move to the East Coast or a restructuring of the company that would allow Breckenridge to expand in another way.

Breckenridge is the fifth largest craft brewer in Colorado. Two of the larger ones, New Belgium (1st) and Oskar Blues (2nd) have announced plans to open new facilities, both in North Carolina in the coming years in order to help them grow.

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Location Info

Breckenridge Brewery and BBQ

471 Kalamath St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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7 comments
Mantonat
Mantonat

Totally agree. Saying "no big loss" is a pretty short-sighted opinion, considering that there's more at stake than the loss one brewery. Colorado has had a reputation for being friendly for small businesses, but this could change if the perception is that our government prefers to over-regulate or over-tax. It's not just about beer. 

And saying "every other brewery has found a way to make it work" is just demonstrating a lack of reading comprehension. Pretty sure the article mentioned that Breckenridge would be in a unique situation in Colorado in regard to the capacity of the planned brewery/restaurant.

Beerness
Beerness

Agree, but no more so than Mr. Cerkovnik's childish "I'm going to take my ball and go home approach."  The fact is that every other brewery has found a way to make it work.  So yeah, it's a problem, but a solvable one.  Breckenridge wouldn't be all that big of a loss anyway.

Brian Martinez
Brian Martinez

Here's a radical thought: why not just repeal any and all caps on the amount of beer brewpubs, micro-breweries, mega-breweries, and dudes brewing beer in their basement can produce?  What the hell is the government doing regulating the business models for breweries in the first place?

Dave Butler
Dave Butler

I wonder if they could split off their food operations into another company then focus Breckenridge strictly on beer. Then they could expand all they wanted here. Thumbs down to the CO legislature for not finding a way to make these plans happen. 

Mantonat
Mantonat

The sad thing is that if Coors wanted to attach a restaurant to its Brewery, they could probably steamroll whatever legislation was needed to get it done, or just make up rules as they went along.

Jonathan Shikes
Jonathan Shikes

 I think that is one of the options they are seriously considering

KyFree
KyFree

Wasn't that the whole point of the Wynkoop merger?

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