From the Archives: 1960s-era Denver Beer bottle and case, made in the Tivoli
Beer is more than just a commodity here in Denver. It's a cultural staple. Tickets for this year's Great American Beer Festival -- an event that holds a Guinness World Record for offering the largest number of beers on tap in one place -- sold out within minutes of going live. In 2011, Colorado was fourth in number of breweries of any state in the country and fourth in gross beer production. The three major universities on the downtown Auraria campus all share a student union that resides in a former brewery, the Tivoli Union Brewery Company; one of the beers that was brewed there was called Denver Beer, and some artifacts from its production found their way into the Auraria Archives and Special Collections Department.
Formerly the Milwaukee Brewery when it was owned by a man named Max Melshimer, the building went through a number of additions to become what it is now. Melshimer brewed and bottled beer in the Milwaukee Brewery on a $250,000 loan he had received from John Good to buy the place; Good was the owner of the Rocky Mountain Brewery, the first brewery in Colorado. Melshimer turned it into a sophisticated operation, adding buildings and using them to brew and bottle beer. But by 1900, Melshimer found that he meet the terms of the loan, and Good foreclosed on him. Good took over and named it "Tivoli" after the Tivoli Gardens amusement park in Denmark. He merged it with another company to create the Tivoli-Union Brewery Company.
The company remained in the Good family until 1965, when Loraine Good -- the wife of the second John Good -- died. It was then sold to two brothers, Carl and Joseph Occhiatio, who launched Denver Beer as their inaugural product, distributed in bottles and cans printed with the iconic Rocky Mountain skyline. This bottle and case come from that run.
The company suffered a strike in 1966 over wage disputes; the business took a major hit, and they shut down in 1969. The Tivoli, of course, is still standing, though nothing is brewed there anymore -- and Denver, with its myriad breweries, still carries the torch.