Beer Man

Steamworks Brewing contracts with Dry Dock to make its beer

Steamworks Brewing in Durango was one of the first Colorado mountain breweries to can its beers and establish a presence in Denver, but financial problems in 2010 forced the brewery to close its canning plant. As a result, Steamworks went to its neighbor, Ska Brewing, which began brewing and canning Steamworks's beer on a contract basis.

But Ska has grown so much over the past few years that it no longer has the capacity to brew the Steamworks beers anymore. So Steamworks -- maker of the popular Colorado Kolsch -- has hired Aurora's Dry Dock Brewing to take over.

See also: Dry Dock Brewing quadrupled in size in 2013; plans to add new beers in 2014

"This is a good move for us because Dry Dock has a lot of extra capacity at their new facility," says Steamworks owner Kris Oyler, adding that it makes a lot of sense to brew and can in the metro area since that is where most Steamworks beer is sold.

The arrangement also allows Steamworks to sell more Colorado Kolsch, Third Eye Pale Ale and Steam Engine Lager, since Dry Dock has a larger brewing system. (Steamworks also has a brewpub in Durango, but most of the beer made there is sold on-site.)

Dry Dock opened a new 30,000-square-foot production facility in early 2013 and has since quadrupled its output, in particular its four canned beers.

"We're very excited," says Dry Dock co-owner Kevin DeLange. "We visited with them, as well as the guys at Ska, to discuss it over the past months and have just taken over....We had a few other breweries approach us but we want to take it slow and make sure we can handle the growth of our own brands as well as Steamworks before doing more."

Both DeLange and Oyler shied away from the term "contract brewing," which Oyler says has become "a bit of dirty word" in the brewing industry. "These partner-brewing relationships are becoming more and more accepted now.

"For us, the fact that we developed these beers and built these brands is important and we want to keep them alive," he adds. "We'll make a little money and have fun doing it. That's why we are still in the game as we are."

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