When the Colorado Brewers Guild was founded in 1995, New Belgium Brewing was just four years old, Left Hand Brewing was two years old, and Great Divide had just been born. Although those breweries hoped to one day upend the boring world of light lager, their day-to-day goal was just to stay in business.
To that end, those businesses and others created the Colorado Brewers Guild, an organization that would become dedicated not just to building community spirit and raising awareness about the microbreweries, but to actually fighting for their interests in the state legislature and among city and county governments.
The Guild, a nonprofit organization, had planned to honor its 25th anniversary this year with a series of special events, but the global coronavirus pandemic had other plans, forcing bars, breweries and restaurants of all kinds to shut their doors all over the world. As a result, Colorado's beer makers — now 420 strong — are once again fighting day-to-day battles just to stay in business. The Guild, too, is scrambling to raise funding.
So from 1 to 6 p.m. this Saturday, April 25, the Guild will host a virtual 25th Beerthday Party you can join by buying a $5 ticket, getting some local beer to go, and dialing in to Zoom to enjoy an all-star guest list of brewers and brewery owners — all from the familiar, if forced, comfort of your own patio, couch or kitchen table.
The event will encompass an equal mix of education, history and fun, the Guild says, and the entire thing will be emceed by current CBG board chairman Dave Bergen, co-founder of Joyride Brewing.
Things kick off at 1 p.m. with most of the original CBG boardmembers in attendance, including Left Hand's Eric Wallace, Odell Brewing's Doug Odell, New Belgium's Kim Jordan, and Boulder Beer's Jeff Brown, along with Jeff Mendel, Tara Dunn, Mark Youngquist, Tom Hennessy and Mike Bristol.
From there, discover "The Art and Science of Sours" at 2:05 p.m. with Troy Casey of Casey Brewing & Blending and Peter Bouckaert of Purpose Brewing, followed by "Beer Pairing at Home Like You Mean It" at 2:40 p.m. with Julia Herz of the Boulder-based Brewers Association. After that, at 3:15 pm., the Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover will moderate a panel on non-traditional brewing with Judd Belstock of Dos Luces Brewing, Karen Hertz of Holidaily Brewing and Keith Villa of Ceria Brewing.
The next two sessions are on local malt growers, with Root Shoot Malting, and incorporating the great outdoors in your brewery's marketing, with Jordan Fink of Woods Boss Brewing, Jason Ford of Broken Compass, Dave Thibodeau of Ska Brewing, Dale Katechis of Oskar Blues, Chad Melis of Turn It Up Media, and Matt Cutter of Upslope Brewing Company.
And at 5 p.m., everyone will let their hair down with some music and a fun session of beer drinking and storytelling moderated by Westword writer and author of Colorado Beer: A History of Mile High Brewing, Jonathan Shikes (that's me). The panel includes Neil Fisher of WeldWerks Brewing, Tim Myers of Strange Craft, Tommy Thatcher and Chris Fish of Telluride Brewing, and possibly other special guests.
A live beer festival beats drinking in your living room just about any day, but a virtual anniversary party is a great way to enjoy brews and a little long-distance camaraderie without the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, spilled beers and long lines.