Batch 19, the Coors lager that comes from a pre-Prohibition recipe reportedly unearthed in an old log book in 2004, will go tap this week at three hand-picked bars in Denver.
Stoney's Bar & Grill, the Wazee Supper Club and Star Bar were selected in part because they are all located in turn-of-the-century buildings or spaces that look old, and in part because of the relationship that Coors has with the owners.
"We were looking at things that tie back to the pre-Prohibition era," says Tom Ryan, a spokesman for Tenth & Blake, the MillerCoors subsidiary that makes Batch 19. "It's a very special beer with a unique history, and we are trying to highlight that."
When customers order a pitcher, Batch 19 will be served in 1900s-era "growlers," which look more like milk jugs with wider openings than today's vessel of the same name.
On May 20, Pete Coors will toast the beer at Stoney's, 1111 Lincoln Street, from 5 to 7 p.m. "We're really excited," says Stoney Jesseph, the owner of Stoney's, who says he got the account because he's been a big fan of Coors and was a supporter of Batch 19 from the beginning.
Coors will park a 1920s beer truck in front and there will be people in costume at the event. Most important, Jesseph adds, "It's a really good beer."
Batch 19 will also be served on tap at six other Front Range bars: the Old Capitol Grill in Golden; O'Malley's and the Navajo Hogan in Colorado Springs; the Town Pump in Fort Collins; the Wheel Bar in Estes Park; and Gray's Coors Tavern in Pueblo.
As the Coors story goes, there was a small flood in the basement of the Golden plant where some of the company's memorabilia is kept. When that material was being moved, employees discovered an old log book with a recipe that dated to the days before 1919, when alcoholic beverages were outlawed in the United States.
A few years later, Coors brewer Keith Villa decided to see if he could round up some of the ingredients from that recipe, ingredients like Hersbrucker and Strisslespalt hops, which aren't really used anymore by modern brewers in this country.
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After trying out the beer on employees (it is brewed in Golden), Coors released Batch 19 -- along with its marketing story -- in May 2010, but only in five cities: Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and San Jose.
Denver is the sixth location, and then it will move on to Boston. "There's no major reason why Denver was left off the list other than we were just sampling other parts of country," Ryan says.
Coors is going with limited allocation of Batch 19 because "we are trying to remind people that it is a special beer," he adds. "It didn't seem appropriate to do something big, but rather to slowly grow it. We can certainly expand down the road."