Coors hasn't canceled Christmas, but after two decades, the brewer is no longer making its seasonal Winterfest beer for the public, choosing to focus instead on a winter beer from the company's Blue Moon brand. The news brings the same mixed sentiments that accompanied the retirement of Jesse Helms: hard to stomach in action, but the end of any era comes with a certain amount of nostalgia.
Back in 1985, before Golden's pride and joy had fermented into a multinational conglomerate, Coors began brewing Winterfest for employees, according to a 2005 press release touting the beer's twentieth anniversary. The next year, it took the beer public, making Winterfest the granddaddy of Colorado holiday beers; today, more than two dozen craft brewers in Colorado make winter brews in November and December, along with hundreds of others nationwide (go to slideshow.westword.com for a sampling and taste test). Although Winterfest itself wasn't great — it tasted like extra-Coorsy Coors — it was tradition.
But Coors spokeswoman Jenny Volanakis prefers not to dwell on the past, staving off sentimental tears in favor of a sudsy spin. "We are brewing it in small supply for employees, but not selling it. We decided as a company to just focus on one winter seasonal this year. I hope people will try the Full Moon Winter Ale," she explains, adding that Full Moon (which also tastes like extra-Coorsy Coors) will be sold nationally, a distinction Winterfest had recently lost.
So will Coors bring back Winterfest one day? "I can't say," Volanakis says.
Here's to holidays.
Stirring the pot: Denver Recycles mailed some interesting reading material last week to the 75,000 Denver residents who participate in the city's recycling program — along with an apparent suggestion on where to read it. The flier shows a man's feet, pants around his ankles, with this headline: "Don't just sit there, Recycle!" The message is designed "to tell people they can recycle in every room of the house," says Denver Recycles spokesman Tom Strickland. "We just happened to start with that particular room." Since the image of that room is a stock photo, it's hard to know if the man is sitting in a public bathroom, à la Senator Larry Craig, or at home.
Hopefully, it's No. 2. So to speak...
Scene and herd: Last week's New York Times featured a long piece on Colfax Avenue that dragged in everyone from Jack Kerouac (who drank up the world's longest main street) to Clint Eastwood (who filmed Every Which Way But Loose on some of its 26-plus miles) to Mayor John Hickenlooper, who outlined plans for the street's revitalization to reporter Dan Frosch, saying, "This is a beautiful area, but what's unappealing about it has been the drug trafficking and the punks that hang out here."
And now one less business is sticking around for the inevitable gentrification. Highlander Comics & Games, which moved to its current spot at 323 East Colfax four years ago after five years on Tennyson Street, will soon close altogether. Owner John Murphy and a small cadre of dedicated employees have kept the store alive as a pure labor of love, but Murphy says that the Bush economy and Internet sales have made it impossible to keep the doors open — and when it goes, the Highlander will be the fourth Denver comic shop to close in a decade. "It sucks," Murphy adds. "We love to be here. We love comics. And we love our customers."
Highlander's estimated 200 regulars, who made Wednesdays — the day publishers ship their new comic-book titles — a social event at the store, will still be able to get the newest titles through this month, and Murphy hopes that proceeds from the current 50 percent-off fire sale will allow him to stay open through January. But that will be it. "It's really sad," he concludes. "And the irony is that sales are falling off just as comic books are getting so much better. But it doesn't make financial sense for us any longer."