Ten biggest Colorado craft beer stories in 2012

Categories: Beer Man

Avery Brewing Facebook page
Avery will build its new brewery here.
3) Expansion of medium-sized and big craft breweries
Colorado's larger craft breweries enjoyed a lot of success in 2012, and it showed as many of them announced, started or finished major expansion projects. That list included New Belgium, which will open a second major brewery in North Carolina; Oskar Blues, which opened a second, smaller facility in that state as well; Left Hand, which completed a multimillion-dollar expansion; Odell, which broke ground on a big addition; Avery, which bought land to build a huge new campus in Boulder; Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora and Upslope in Boulder, which are both adding second large breweries in their respective towns; Bristol and Trinity, both in Colorado Springs, which are expanding; and Breckenridge, which is hopefully building a large campus in the metro area.

2) Strange Brewing and other trademark battles
In September, as Denver's Strange Brewing was gearing up for the Great American Beer Festival, owners John Fletcher and Tim Myers got a letter from a homebrew shop in Massachusetts demanding that they change their name and threatening legal action if they did not. Myers responded to the missive from Strange Brew Beer & Wine Making Supplies by offering to team up with the business on something that would benefit both of them -- but he was rebuffed. The outcome of the dispute is still pending, but the issue of trademarks is only just heating up in the craft-brewing industry where brewery names, beer names and even brewing terms are being contested all over the country. And things are likely to get even uglier in 2013 as new breweries form (there are a least five breweries in planning in Colorado that have already had to chance their names) and existing breweries attempt to come up with new names. It would be great to see the Brewers Association step in on this issue and create some sort of mediation process, especially since the craft beer industry is often so congenial, but the organization has so far been mum on what could turn into a divisive and angry problem.

1) The rise of the neighborhood/nanobrewery
Small neighborhood or nanobreweries opened at a rapid rate in 2012, giving craft-beer lovers new places to hang out. Although some beer-industry experts believe that there may be too many breweries in Colorado now, it's hard to argue that small places -- like neighborhood bars -- can't succeed. In Denver alone, at least six small breweries opened their doors -- some of them with tiny brewing systems and occasional hours -- while Boulder acquired at least three new ones of its own. Denver and Boulder suburbs like Wheat Ridge, Broomfield, Frederick and Niwot -- among many others -- also welcomed local places with a community feel. And 2013 may surpass 2012 in terms of numbers, as small (and smaller) businesses respond to demand all over the metro area. Your neighborhood never tasted so good.

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

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!

Now Trending

From the Vault