Ten biggest Colorado craft beer stories in 2012

Categories: Beer Man

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7) Tivoli Beer brings history back to Denver
For decades, Tivoli beer was the biggest name in Denver Beer. But the company, which was located in the building that now holds the Auraria campus student union, closed up shop in 1969 after a series of business setbacks. Forty-three years later, entrepreneurs, Corey and Debbie Marshall acquired the trademarks to Tivoli as well as other historical Denver beer brands and began brewing them again. Tivoli Beer -- or a close approximation of the recipe -- was brewed first, at Prost Brewing, with the help of brewmaster Bill Eye. A second beer, Sigi's, is up next in 2013.

6) GABF ticket fiasco
2012 was the year that the Great American Beer Festival finally got too big -- or at least, the demand for tickets did. Within minutes (some say seconds) of going on sale on August 2, they were gone, leaving many people holding empty glasses, empty hearts and a bitterness that no hop variety could equal. Just a year earlier, it had taken a week to sell out, while in 2010, it took several weeks. Beer lovers directed their rage at everyone from the Brewers Association, which hosts the event, to Ticketmaster, which handled the sale, to scalpers and other assorted evil-doers. The BA, meanwhile, responded that there was nothing they could do and that the sale was a testament to the popularity of craft beer. But 2012 was also the year that the coolness factor associated with the events going on outside of GABF, at breweries and craft beer-themed bars and restaurants, may have surpassed the main event. Will that evolution continue to the point where demand for GABF tickets diminishes? That's unlikely to happen in 2013, but the BA better find a new way to sell tickets soon, or they may find themselves losing a lot of the goodwill they've nurtured over the past two decades.

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5) Shuttering of Del Norte
Del Norte Brewing, which had carved out an unusual niche making lighter Mexican-style lagers since 2007, became the first Denver craft brewer to close its doors in at least four years -- and one of only a handful of Colorado breweries to shutter in the past decade. Was it a sign that the market has become saturated? Or was it the result of problems that were specific to Del Norte? It's hard to know, since brewery owner Joe Fox wasn't commenting, beyond a goodbye note. But the news of Del Norte's shuttering was a shame -- and a little scary.

4) Craft vs. Crafty
On December 13, the Brewers Association, which represents small brewers nationwide, fired a shot over the bows of MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, blasting them for selling "crafty" beers without labeling them as their own products. "When someone is drinking a Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Beer, they often believe that it's from a craft brewer, since there is no clear indication that it's made by SABMiller," the statement read. The missive sparked a heated debate that riled up big brewers (to be expected) as well as craft-beer lovers (unexpected), many of whom thought the message was ill-conceived, elitist, unnecessary and oddly timed. While there is no doubt that the megabrewers purposefully distance themselves from their niche brands in order to make them look like they are made by independent companies, the issue has been around for a while. Still, the BA no doubt got all the publicity they were looking for -- and then some.

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