Ten biggest Colorado craft beer stories in 2012

Categories: Beer Man

Black Shirt Brewing Facebook page
Nanobreweries were on the rise in 2012.
Colorado craft breweries and their many fans enjoyed a spectacular year in 2012, as the options for consuming locally made beer continued to grow and fill our tastebuds with joy. If the state's 160-plus breweries weren't expanding, then they were adding new beers or welcoming friendly competitors. And there were plenty of those as small neighborhood breweries popped up all over the place. But a few cracks have started to show as well under the weight of craft beer's popularity. These took the form of everything from business disputes to trademark battles and politics.

Here's our look at Colorado's ten biggest craft beer stories in 2012.

See also:
- The ten best new Colorado beers of 2012
- Coors, Miller, Bud will keep sponsoring GABF, despite craft vs. crafty controversy
- Oskar Blues goes big with its 19.2-ounce Royal Pints of Dale's Pale Ale

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Eddie Clark Media
10) Oskar Blues celebrates a decade of canning with new cans
Oskar Blues kicked off the Canned Beer Apocalypse in 2002 by becoming the first U.S. craft brewer to squeeze big flavor into an aluminum can. Hundreds of other breweries across the country have since followed, but Oskar Blues is always trying to stay ahead of the pack. So in 2012, after a decade in the game, the Longmont company introduced two new can styles, a twist-off aluminum bottle (for Chaka and the Deuce) and a 19.2-ounce royal pint for Dale's Pale Ale. Here's to the next decade of good beer in a can.

9) Breckenridge Brewery makes waves
Like other Colorado beer-makers, Breckenridge Brewery, one of the state's largest and oldest, suffered growing pains in 2012. But they were particularly acute for Breck, which had a unique problem: Because it is classified by the state as a "brewpub," it isn't allowed to make more than 60,000 barrels of beer per year -- and Breckenridge is about to blow by that. To remedy the situation, the brewery's parent company, Breckenridge-Wynkoop LLC, floated a bill that would have upped that limit, but the proposal went nowhere thanks, in part, to opposition from some of Breck's fellow craft breweries. Shocked and angry, brewery management first said it would build a new brewery in another state -- rather than stick to its plan to spend $15 million on a new in-state facility -- before finally working out a complicated restructuring of its various sister brewpubs with the state. Breckenridge has yet to say where or when it will build that new Colorado campus (or whether it will try again to change the law), but we're hoping that 2013 will be the company's lucky number.

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Chad Yakobson gets wild at Crooked Stave.
8) Crooked Stave Gets Funky
Chad Yakobson's Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project burst onto the Colorado craft-beer scene in 2011, producing wild and sour beers in Fort Collins. In 2012, Crooked Stave introduced a Cellar Reserve members-only club and moved its operations to Denver, where it brews at Prost and ferments in its new Barrel Cellar in north Denver. But Yakobson, who has a master's degree in yeast, has gained national fame because of his innovative style, his outstanding beers and his expertise, culminating in a Great American Beer Festival medal in October and some serious press in the New York Times in December. Later this year, Crooked Stave is scheduled to move into its own brewery and tap room in The Source, an equally forward-thinking project in RiNo that will be dedicated to local food and beverage artisans. That sounds wild.

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Great Work, Jonathan!

How many different items in this article include a mention of the "Brewer's Association"? But the positive / negative split is fairly even --- which is a surprise, and I suppose, a bit perceptional.  

They have promoted the GABF into the stratosphere, and then claim they cannot do anything about how fast tickets are sold. We all know that's crap -- if they simply stopped giving away so many "freebie" tickets to promoters and industry, there'd be that many more to sell. They could aslo usse a less scalper-friendly system than TicketMa$ter.

They refuse to comment on the Strange Brewing trademark issue, or ANY other trademark/tradename issue. We *know* they aren't afraid of a challenge though -- taking on the mega's for "crafty" brewing. Talk about a collossal waste of time, print, and effort. Hey, BA: Blue Moon is probably more responsible for the rise of 'craft' brewing than any small-market brand! It is the non-partisan handshake across the aisle, introducing the swill drinkers to what real beer can be. (Disclosure: "real beer", but I can't stand BM).

Is it time for the BA to revisit their charter, to review their future path? Or maybe for us, the beer-drinking enthusiasts who pay our dues, to challenge the direction BA is taking? Are they out to protect the craft beer industry, craft brewing in general, the consumer, or just to keep themselves relevant?


Beer is beer. Why craft breweries would take shots at macros for creating a "craft" label IS elitist and ill-timed. 


Jonathan - think that your blog is another craft brewing success story. Keep up the good work!

Mantonat topcommenter

@CJW81 So I take it you wouldn't care if we returned to 1980 when there were about 10 beers in the whole country. 

It's neither elitist nor ill-timed to have pride in your hard work and accomplishments and to be angered when an industrial manufacturer attempts to squeeze you out of the market by cashing in on the success of people who have done the hard work of establishing a well-made alternative despite the great odds. Craft beers are not for everyone; they are meant to appeal to individual tastes and represent what the brewer thinks of as good beer. The brewer can only hope that buyers agree. Industrial beers are made to appeal to the most people possible; the flavor is intentionally bland and does not represent anyone's idea of the best, but rather the least offensive. Industrial brewers specialize in minimizing cost by using inexpensive ingredients, large-scale production methods, and a large volume of sales. They also specialize in minimizing competition by using questionable business tactics to market, distribute, and place their product. Cheers to mass production and industry for providing jobs and helping the American economy grow to what it is today. There are certainly products that are best left to industry; I wouldn't want to buy artisan vacuum cleaners or hand-crafted smart phones. I wouldn't pay an extra dollar a gallon for gasoline lovingly distilled in small batches by dudes with handlebar mustaches. But food is not an industrial product and any attempt to industrialize or streamline the production of food invariably ends in inferior, flavorless, and unhealthy consumer goods (much of which can hardly be called food). 

Any attempt by industrial manufacturers to market their products as somehow linked to handmade or individualized creation is simply deceitful. But you go on thinking that "beer is beer," and that Velveeta is cheese and that Wonder is bread and that Chicken McNuggets come from a chicken farm. How dare anyone take offense when we attempt to malign these factory products.


@Mantonat @CJW81 "I wouldn't pay an extra dollar a gallon for gasoline lovingly distilled in small batches by dudes with handlebar mustaches." Funniest thing I've read all day!

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