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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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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