Craft beer continued to build on its market share in 2017, even as the Brewers Association sounded a warning recently for independent breweries that have spread themselves too thin when it comes to distribution.
Last year, the nation's 6,300 breweries made 25.4 million barrels of beer and garnered a 12.7 percent market share by volume, up 5 percent from the previous year, the BA says. That beer was worth $26 billion in retail dollar value, up 8 percent over 2016. In the meantime, the total beer market dropped by 1 percent in volume.
Additionally, the number of operating breweries in 2017 grew by 16 percent, to 6,372. Of that, 3,812 were microbreweries, 2,252 were brewpubs, 202 were regional craft breweries and 106 were brewers that the BA doesn't consider to be craft, such as Coors, AB InBev, Lagunitas, Ballast Point and others.
But that growth "is adapting to the new realities of a mature market landscape,” Bart Watson, the BA's chief economist, says in a statement. “Beer lovers are trending toward supporting their local small and independent community craft breweries. At the same time, as distribution channels experience increased competition and challenges, craft brewer performance was more mixed than in recent years, with those relying on the broadest distribution facing the most pressure.”
That point was driven home in late March when San Diego's Green Flash Brewing, which had expanded rapidly across the country over the past three years, closed its nearly new location in Virginia and its specialty barrel-aging location, Cellar 3, in California. A few days later, the brewery was foreclosed by Comerica Bank because of millions of dollars in outstanding debt; the brewery and its subsidiary, Alpine Brewing, has since been sold to a Michigan company named WC IPA, LLC, a risk management company.
Keep reading for all of this week's craft-beer events.
Wednesday, April 4
Colorado breweries will celebrate the annual Colorado Pint Day today, an event designed to support the Colorado Brewers Guild. Stop in at one of several dozen breweries, buy a beer and keep the glass, which was designed by artist Brendan O’Connor from Good Land Design. The artwork was inspired by the theme of 300 days of sunshine and 300-plus breweries in the state. One dollar from each pint sold will be donated to the Colorado Brewers Guild. Find the complete list of participating breweries on the Guild's website.
For Colorado Pint Day, Platt Park Brewing taps two beers at 3 p.m. The first is Hop Religion Chapter 3; this version is juicy, piney and with passion fruit notes. It was brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops and hop oils. The second beer is White Pear Berliner Weisse, a new spring sour. For this one, the brewery got fresh white Bartlett pears and added them to a light and tart German kettle sour.
First Draft Taproom hosts a small tap takeover by Broomfield's 4 Noses Brewing at 5:30 p.m., including a collaboration between the brewery and the bar: a Berliner weisse with lemon, lime and lactose. Other 4 Noses taps include: Whimsy, Bareback Blonde, Bout Damn Time IPA, and Experimental Imperial IPA.
Resolute Brewing in Centennial will tap its first-ever large-batch sour, the Sultan of Schwing Tropical Sour, as part of Colorado Pint Day. "With intense mixed fruit and coconut aromas, the Sultan of Schwing offers a light body and a tartness that leads to a smooth, dry finish," the brewery says.
Thursday, April 5
"Are you interested in learning more about pairing your craft beer with food? Curious about even where to start?" Then join author and craft-beer ambassador Julia Herz of the Brewers Association, and Dave Bergen, owner of Joyride Brewing, as they take you through the Basics of Food Pairing. "This fun, 45-minute experience at the brewery will touch on topics such as intensity, the three Cs [cut, complement and contrast], and the dreaded train wreck," Joyride says. This course includes four samples of Joyride beer, as well as various food items that will pair with the brews. There are two different sessions; tickets, $20, are available here.
Platt Park Brewing taps a new firkin of Tropical Snow Dance IPA at 3 p.m. This one was double-dry-hopped with Mosaic. "A true West Coast IPA, it offers a crisp balance of grapefruit notes and floral aroma," the brewery says.
Friday, April 6
Finn's Manor hosts a 2 p.m. tapping of Make IPA Clear Again, a collaboration of hoppy specialists Comrade Brewing in Denver and La Cumbre Brewing out of New Mexico. There will be live music at 7 p.m., and the greatest hits from both breweries will take over the rest of the taps all day.
The newly-opened Oasis Brewing will tap a new beer, Mirage IPA, at 2 p.m. Oasis opened earlier this month in an old church in north Denver's Highland Square.
"Inspired by everyone's favorite scruffy-looking nerf herder," Never Tell Me the Hops, from Fiction Beer Company, is a New England-style IPA double-dry-hopped with Galaxy and El Dorado hops. "The soft mouthfeel helps this beer go down faster than Han can make the Kessel Run," the brewery says, adding that the IPA has notes of passion fruit and tangerine with a touch of guava. There are 250 Crowlers available for $13 each.
Banded Oak Brewing releases Belgian Blonde, "a low-hopped, drinkable beer that packs a punch at 7.3 percent ABV while maintaining a slightly sweet honey taste," Banded Oak says. "The beer, brewed primarily with Pilsner malts, boasts a spicy finish with hints of lemon and pear. Belgian Blonde will be in short supply, as half of the batch will be placed into chardonnay barrels."
Intrepid Sojourner taps two beers at 3 p.m. The first is Smoked Polish Grätzer. "Once known as Polish Champagne for its high quality and high carbonation, and exported to dozens of nations before World War II, this style floundered and ultimately disappeared commercially in the early 1990s after years of neglect under the Communist regime," the brewery says. "Interest from the homebrewing community revived the style in this century. Though grätzer was described a century ago as having an intense hop flavor, today is it known for its smokiness: The wheat malt is dried in a kiln directly by oak smoke, which gives it its smoky aroma and flavor." The second beer is the roasty and hop-forward Folk Devil Black IPA.
Cerebral Brewing will release three collaboration beers in cans today, along with a new IPA. The first beer is Blended Learning, a 4.8 percent table saison, brewed in conjunction with Speciation Artisan Ales. It was hopped with Galaxy and East Kent Goldings, fermented with a blend of both breweries' house cultures, conditioned in stainless-steel tanks for five months and then bottle-conditioned. It will be sold in bottles and on draft. The second beer is Megafauna, a huge 10.5 percent triple IPA brewed in collaboration with Outer Range. Hopped with Galaxy, Enigma, Mosaic and N1/69, then fermented with a blend of English and American yeast strains, this is the biggest IPA Cerebral has made. This one will be available on draft and in sixteen-ounce four-packs. The third collab is Data Mine, an 8.5 percent ABV double-IPA-brewed with Dancing Gnome Beer. Data Mine was fermented with their house yeast strain and hopped with a blend of Galaxy, Idaho 7, XJA2/436 and Southern Passion. It will also be available on draft and in four-packs. And finally, Cerebral will release Action Potential, a 6.2 percent IPA brewed with oats and hopped with Citra and Galaxy. Doors open at noon.
Come drink behind the scenes starting at 10 a.m. at Great Divide before the Colorado Rockies home opener. The open house is free and beers are $5, including the brand-new Heyday IPA, which hasn't yet been released. There will also be tacos, and a cookie pairing from Good Sugar Baking.
In celebrating the return of Handwritten Belgian Wit, Ratio Beerworks has partnered with Mutiny Information Cafe on a special-edition zine, which is "replete with short stories, staff interviews, drawings and more," the brewery says. In addition, Ratio will welcome in two organizations that specialize in hand-created content: DiNK (the Denver Independent Comic and Arts Expo) and the Denver Zine Library. The release party runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Handwritten Belgian Wit is Ratio’s take on a classic Belgian Wit with tea-cut orange peel and ground coriander.
Liquid Mechanics Brewing in Lafayette shows off its newest New England-style IPA, TrHopical Nectar, which is brewed using Experimental BRU-1, Medusa and Zythos hops. There are "huge tropical fruit flavors and aromas in this smooth-drinking 6.7 percent ABV IPA," the brewery says. "Mango, kiwi, and pineapple flavors take the center stage, backed up by hints of apricot, melon, and citrus." It will be on draft and in Crowlers.
Saturday, April 7
Station 26 Brewing will host the crowler release of Mango Papaya Milkshake IPA at 1 p.m. "Fruity, silky, delicious, perfect for spring," the beer is part of the brewery's Milkshake IPA series. There will be 300 32-ounce crowlers for sale at $14 each. It will also be on tap.
Renegade Brewing will introduce a new beer in six-packs with a launch party from noon to 4 p.m. Free to Roam American Pale Ale will be a year-round beer. As an added twist, the brewery is sending someone to Buena Vista for a two-night stay. Anyone who wants to participate should come with a backpack or suitcase packed. At 2 p.m., Renegade will draw a winner and send them on an adventure with two six-packs of Free to Roam and $100 in spending cash. The winner will have to "call in sick” on Monday.
To celebrate spring, Fiction Beer Company is tapping at least six different saisons, releasing a bottle-conditioned peach saison and hosting a rare salad competition. (There will be two categories, general and pasta; prizes will be awarded. Go to Fiction's Facebook page for details about registering.) As for the beer, the tap list includes rum-barrel-aged mixed-fermentation blackberry saison; rum-barrel-aged mixed-fermentation plum saison; a saison blend made from the plum and blackberry barrels; a sour saison; a collaboration made with Strange Craft; a Motueka Dry Hopped Saison; and more. The bottle release of Brett Peach Saison is $15 each, but there are only fifty bottles.
Hops & Pie hosts its own Sour, Wild & Fruited Fest starting at noon. The pizzeria/beer bar will be pouring Casey Brewing Biere De Garde, The Cut Baco Noir Grape, Casey Family Preserves Peach and Cherry; Cantillon Lou Pepe and Rose De Grambrinus; Jester King Atrial Rubricate, Nocturne and Biere Du Blanc; Drie Fonteinen Hommage and Oude Gueuze; Boneyard Gooze Cruze; Almanac Foedre Punch and Cherry Picker; Tilquin Quetsche, Gueuze and Rullquin; Russian River Consecration and Supplication; Westbound & Down Cuvee de (expletive); Crooked Stave Persica; Beachwood Chaos Is a Friend; and Firestone Walker Krieky Bones.
Fresh off of Collaberation Fest, River North Brewery will tap four collaboration beers at noon. "This year we teamed up with Odd13 Brewing, creating three distinct beers from the same wort, an old-world-meets-new-school showcase of brewing techniques," River North says. Side-by-side, the brewery will have: Haizon, a 5.1 ABV percent turbid mash farmhouse pale ale brewed with Styrian hops, then dry-hopped with Citra and Melba; Squábblegöbs, a 4.1 percent turbid mash New England-style IPA brewed with Simcoe, Mosaic and Centennial hops; and Electric Kazoo, a 5.1 percent turbid mash farmhouse pale ale brewed with passionfruit and raspberry. As an added bonus, River North will tap a cellar keg of Saison Conspiracy Noir, a dark saison brewed with syrah grape must and aged in cabernet barrels. This was a collaboration with Funkwerks and features a 50/50 blend of both breweries' house saison strains.
"You would never think of making a pastry without butter, right? Well, that's the thought process that led us to make this Samoa Cookie inspired pastry stout with coconut, vanilla, chocolate, lactose, and last but not least, real butter." That's the word from New Image Brewing in Arvada, which hosts a can release for I Can't Believe It's Butter, a stout packed with chocolate, caramel and coconut flavors. This beer will be available only at New Image and at Molly's Spirits. Only twenty cases are available.
Odd13 Brewing in Lafayette will release its latest taproom-only beer, übern00b, at noon. This is a double dry-hopped variant of n00b, the brewery's year-round hazy pale ale. "An irresponsible dry hopping regimen with Mosaic and El Dorado, created a super juicy IPA," Odd13 says. "We also changed up the yeast in this variant. übern00b was fermented using London Ale yeast, instead of Vermont yeast."
Boulder's Cellar West Artisan Ales releases Assimilation in limited 750mL bottles and on draft. Assimilation, a collaboration between Cellar West and Amalgam Ales, is "a saison blended with some of the finest barrels from the Cellar West and Amalgam stock," the brewery says. "Composed of 75 percent this year's batch of Westfield, Cellar West's oak aged Saison, then 20 percent Freeform, a solera-style Golden Sour from Amalgam, as well as 5 percent of their Apricot Sour, Assimilation evolves across the palate as it expresses soft oak elements, a spritzy acidity, undeniable juicy stone fruit character, a full and frothy mouthfeel, and pleasantly dry finish.There are 200 bottles available. Hetti Spaghetti will also be on site at 1 p.m.
Sunday, April 8
FanDraught Sports Brewery in Parker is celebrating the beginning of the Colorado Rockies baseball season with its first Baseball Brewfest, an unlimited taster party from 1 to 4 p.m., featuring nine Colorado breweries in nine baseball positions. For $20, you can "make your way around the infield, stop to say hi to the pitcher and catcher, and head to the outfield," FanDraught says. The game will be on all the TVs and projects. To find out which breweries will be there and how to sign up, go to FanDraught's Facebook page.
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SHOW ME HOW
Monday, April 9
Meet the chef from Euclid Hall and the brewer from Longmont's Wibby Brewing between 4 and 6 p.m. at Euclid Hall. The restaurant is kicking off a weeklong Wibby tap takeover that includes a special food-pairing menu. Some of the beers will be Moondoor Dunkel, Lightshine Radler and Wibby IPL.
Tuesday, April 10
Comrade Brewing brings back its 9.1 percent ABV Hop Chops Double IPA at 3 p.m. Hop Chops, the first IIPA ever brewed at Comrade, is hopped with Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe, Galaxy at over six pounds per barrel. Guyz Fuzion will also be there for Taco Tuesday.
Last month, more than 200 women gathered at some half-dozen breweries around Colorado to brew beer in honor of International Women's Day and International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. The largest gathering was at Blue Moon Brewing in RiNo, where about eighty members of the Pink Boots Society got together to help create Equal Hopportunity Pineapple IPA. Like the other beers, this one was brewed using a special Pink Boots Blend from YCH hops. More than fifteen bars and breweries will tap the beer and donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the nonprofit, which will use the money to fund educational and scholarship opportunities for female beer professionals. Some of the locations include Blue Moon, Dry Dock (both locations), Great Divide (both locations), Eddyline Brewing, Mother Tucker Brewing, Woods Boss Brewing, De Steeg Brewing, Launch Pad Brewery, High Alpine Brewing, Black Shirt Brewing, Brix Taphouse and Brewery, I HOP IPA (a beer bar in Broomfield), Twenty Brew TapHouse and Colorado Plus Brew Pub. To find more information, go to the Pink Boots website.
Friday, April 13
Spangalang Brewing celebrates its third anniversary with a three-day party running through Sunday. There will be rare beers, live music, and great food from Zivix Five Points.