Eight craft beer trends to look for in Colorado in 2013

Categories: Beer Man

5) Low ABV beers
Sometime this spring or summer, Avery Brewing is expected to start canning a new beer, 3Point5, a session lager with a name that says it all. The beer could be the first of a trilogy of low-alcohol beers from Avery, which is know more for its boundary-pushing big beers than their smaller counterparts. But Avery won't be alone. Odell and Breckenridge have both been experimenting with lower-alcohol beers and it's likely that there are other brewers out there who are flirting with the idea of making and packaging beers that their customers can drink three or four of without getting drunk.

6) Craft beer Co-ops
The craft beer industry has always been community minded - not to mention budget conscious. Although, there are many big craft brewers, there are many more tiny ones, and many of them only came about because someone risked everything by maxing out their credit card and cashing in their 401k, savings account and parental points. Which is why the idea of brewery co-ops and incubators is beginning to catch on in places like Texas (like the one above) and Washington and Michigan - and possibly in Colorado. Although each model is different, the idea behind these co-ops and incubators is that they are collaboratively run by people with different skill sets who all pitch in knowledge, work, money, equipment or other resources. There are two groups looking to form in Colorado right now, an incubator model that could spin off several different nanobreweries, and a co-op, which would operate as a brewery, as well as a meeting place for craft-minded drinkers.

7) Trademark battles
Denver's Strange Brewing got the most attention last year in the trademark arena when it was threatened by a Massachusetts hombrew shop with a similar name (a situation that is ongoing), but many other trademark battles and skirmishes were fought - some of them with bitter consequences and others with happy endings. They won't be last. As the number of breweries in Colorado (more than 160) and across the country (more than 2,260) continues to rise, so will the quantity of legal tussles over brewery names, beer names and even concepts and logos on labels.

More than 100 people lined up outside TRVE Brewing to join its growler club last May.
8) Oversaturation or Undersaturation?
How much craft beer is too much. Everyone has a different opinion on the issue. Are there too many breweries, too many cans and bottles in liquor stores, too many festivals, too many taps? Every time I think that craft brewers might be getting close to saturating the market, another new taproom opens with lines out the door, another existing brewer finds a way to get its bottles or cans on liquor store shelves, another festival sells out in minutes. Demand for craft beer is very strong, and I don't think its going to go away this year - or next year. Some of its popularity may be due to trendiness, but most of it comes from the fact that locally-made beer feels good and tastes good, and if every neighborhood in Denver can support a couple of local bars, then they can support a local taproom as well. And don't get me started on how fast GABF will sell out in 2013.

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Any info on the brewery incubator in planning here in CO?  I'm guessing the brewery co-op is RadCraft?

Christopher David
Christopher David

Even more growth. Per capita, we actually don't have nearly as many breweries as other beer-centric cities. Keep building and we'll keep drinking.

Mantonat topcommenter

Solution to the problem of MillerCoors dominating the Colorado hop crop: brewers, brew with whole hops. I know pellets store well and are easier to use and clean up after, but brewers have been using whole hops for hundreds of years with great results. Think of it as an exercise in old-school techniques.

I'm also still strongly against buying AC Golden or 10th & Blake products. Yes, they are making some excellent products, but they are also fully subsidized by MillerCoors. It totally goes against the whole concept of craft brewing to have every aspect of production underwritten by a corporate giant, from the economies of scale available from quantity purchasing, to instant distribution paths, to access to state-of-the-art equipment, R & D, and QC. I respect the talent and hard work of the folks that make the beer (and perhaps they have paid their dues and have earned a spot by the kettle through their resumes, but they're still playing with daddy's money.


Great Divide is experimenting with sessionable beers that are simliar to their main lines, too. (Herc, Yeti, etc.) I was impressed when I tried them a few weeks back.

Mantonat topcommenter

@kale_co @Mantonat Yep, I read that article, which is part of why I wrote what I did. I think it is a problem when one multinational corporation is the majority customer for Colorado hops. As soon as they get bored with their craft beer hobby, or as soon as market trends indicate to their stable of analysts that there's waning interest in "locally grown," they'll drop Colorado hops like it's chocolate-covered bacon. 


@Mantonat @kale_co That's understandable, but I don't know that we can have it both ways.  Either MillerCoors pays a large markup for hops grown in Colorado, which will hopefully allow those farmers to be self-sufficient in the future without MillerCoors; or they do not buy the hops and Colorado farmers are forced to switch to more profitable, sustainable crops.  

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