"To anyone who gives a shit" -- that's how Renegade Brewing founder Brian O'Connell began his open letter concerning Anheuser Busch's now infamous craft-beer-bashing Super Bowl commercial and its recent purchase of two craft breweries. "Buyouts have been a hot topic lately with the recent purchase of 10 Barrel Brewing and Elysian Brewing by AB InBev. As a small brewery owner, I have reflected a lot on these changes to the industry and here is why these purchases should matter to you the consumer." O'Connell goes on list those reasons, along with a passionate argument for independence in the industry. You can read the full letter on the third page of this calendar, after all of the events for the week.
Turn the page to see this week's craft beer events.
Wednesday, February 4
Platte Park Brewing will continue its Freakin' Firkin Wednesday program tonight by cracking a cask of Phaded Pale Ale fresh hopped with Citra Hops.
Copper Kettle will bring back its annual Decadent Chocolate Cask Month in February, offering different Imperial beers each Wednesday along with doughnut pairings (in limited quantities) from Glazed and Confuzed. This week's pairing is Copper Kettle's chocolate vanilla imperial cream ale with a creme brulee doughnut stuffed with vanilla custard and topped with a crunchy, torched sugar glaze. The Truck Yeah Food Truck will be there at 4 p.m.
As it does every February, Falling Rock Taphouse will celebrate host Dain Bramage all month long, with different barleywines all the time.
Old Chicago will continue its Explorer Series today by tapping De'Nile, which was made by Left Hand Brewing and Allegro Coffee Company. The coffee ale has "a big hop presence that highlights the berry and citrus notes from the coffee," Old Chicago says. "All three parties were involved in the creation of the beer every step of the way, from selecting the coffee at Allegro, to the brewing at Left Hand." The beer-centered restaurant chain will also be featuring Left Hand's three nitro beers -- Milk Stout, Sawtooth and Wake Up Dead -- which will be poured in the brewery's dedicated Spieglau Stout glassware.
Fate Brewing in Boulder will celebrate its second anniversary today by tapping a special 2nd Anniversary Ale; there will also be festive surprises and food and drink specials.
Thursday, February 5
Come say goodbye to the only location that Avery Brewing has known since it opened in Boulder on August 1, 1993. Now that the company is moving to massive new digs across town (with a grand opening on February 16), the old Avery Alley is being retired. The brewery will tap rare beers every day from now through the very last day on Monday, February 9; there will also be live music and appearances by former taproom employees.
Friday, February 6
Comrade Brewing will tap its very first Double IPA today at noon. The beer weighs in at 9.5 percent ABV and 100+ IBUs, and was brewed with Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic, Millennium and Galaxy hops.
TRVE Brewing will release its latest bottled sour beer, Crimson Death, today in the taproom. The beer was aged on raspberries and boysenberries.
Two Creeks Brewing, a brewery-in-planning, will release its second beer today at 6 p.m. at Grandma's House, the collaborative brewery that hosts a variety of would-be brewers on its taps. The beer, Wunsch, is a German-style amber ale. "Very obvious but soft malt flavors sit across from a firm hop presence that balances the malt," the brewery says. In addition, anyone who signs up for the Two Creeks mailing list will receive a free glass of Wunsch at the release party. (Print out the confirmation e-mail that you receive, or just show it to on your phone when you arrive.)
Copper Kettle Brewing will bring back its Rum Barrel Imperial Pumpkin Porter today, both on tap and on nitro. The beer has been aging for four months in barrels, giving it a fuller rum flavor with the same great pumpkin pie spice.
Beryl's Beer Company will release a new coffee schwarzbier that it collaborated on with Logan House coffee. It will be tapped at noon. The brewery will also be tapping a new stout today; it will release a barrel-aged version in one week.
Saturday, February 7
Casey Brewing and Blending in Glenwood Springs will continue its first-Saturday-of-every-month release program today by opening up from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to serve glasses of Saison, East Bank Farmhouse Ale, Plum Fruit Stand and Dry Hop Test #1 Saison. Casey will also be selling bottles of Saison (new blend) and East Bank (last month's blend), along with magnums of Saison, East Bank and Plum Fruit Stand.
Sunday, February 8
Station 26 Brewing will get down and boogie at its monthly Bluegrass Brunch today starting at 11 a.m. There will be live music from Acoustic Mining Company, donuts from Glazed & Confuzed, and barbecue from Rolling Smoke BBQ. On tap: Colorado Cream Ale (2014 GABF medal winner), Belgian-American Pale, Rye Pale, Plum Dubbel, Winter Wheat, Red X, Wee Heavy, Juicy Banger IPA, Red IPA and Milk Stout.
New Belgium hosts an amazing party each year called Lost in the Woods at its Fort Collins brewery, when it releases its two flagship sour ales, La Folie and Transatlantique Kriek. Although tickets to that event sold out months ago, the brewery will hold a Denver version today at the Terminal Bar in Union Station. The evening will include beer, food, special guests and Boxwood Pinball. Get tickets, $40, at imbibe.com.
Monday, February 9
Come say goodbye to the only location that Avery Brewing has known since it opened in Boulder on August 1, 1993. Now that the company is moving to massive new digs across town (grand opening for that is February 16), the old Avery Alley is being retired; the very last day for the taproom is today. To celebrate, Avery will tap rare beers and feature live music and appearances by former taproom employees.
Tuesday, February 10
All five Mountain Sun-owned breweries and restaurants in Boulder, Denver and Longmont will release two imperial stouts today as part of the company's annual Stout Month. The beers are Megatron American Imperial Stout and Oatimus Prime Imperial Oatmeal Stout. the 10.7 percent ABV Megatron "has dominant flavors of chocolate and roast balanced by huge citrus and pine flavors contributed by American hop varieties," the brewery says, while the 10.3 percent ABV Oatimis Prime "is dark and rich with flavors of chocolate from the blend of roasted grains balanced by warming notes of alcohol." You can get a six-ounce side-by-side tasting of each for $7.50.
Turn the page to see more events later in February. Wednesday, February 11
Russian River Brewing's triple IPA, Pliny the Younger, will return to Colorado today at 6 p.m. at the Falling Rock Taphouse, which will host the first of three tappings. The other two will be on February 15 at 1 p.m. and on February 21 at 1 p.m. All three tappings will adhere to strict rules and and times, all the details of which you can find on Falling Rock's website. The California brewery makes a limited amount of this cult beer each year and sends just a small amount out of state. There are typically about a dozen bars that get it here. Stay tuned to our beer calendar for other tapping information.
Lowdown Brewery + Kitchen will celebrate its one-year anniversary starting at 5 p.m. today by tapping some special beers, including Sinister Aged Saison, Lowdown's 1st Anniversary Ale, and a Russian Imperial Stout that's been aging for months.
Lost Highway Brewing is releasing Tripel Homicide today at 3 p.m. The Belgian style tripel was brewed with Sorachi Ace and Saaz hops. It "begins with the true Abbey 'bubble gum' sweetness on the nose, then delivers hints of spice such as clove, and finishes dry and refreshing," the brewery says. It wiill be accompanied with a special food pairing.
Copper Kettle will bring back its annual Decadent Chocolate Cask Month in February, offering different Imperial beers each Wednesday along with doughnut pairings (in limited quantities) from Glazed and Confuzed. This week's pairing is Copper Kettle's Cherry Chocolate Imperial Milk Stout with a honey lime goat cheese doughnut. The Truck Yeah Food Truck will be there at 4 p.m.
Friday, February 13
River North Brewery will kick off a four-day birthday celebration at 1 p.m. today honoring its third birthday with a new brew: a huge 17.2 percent ABV Bière de Garde called Anniversary Ale #3. It's the brewery's strongest-ever offering. "Bursting with notes of stone fruit and complemented by undertones of anise and citrus, Anniversary Ale #3 finishes with a pleasant warming sensation," the brewery says. There will be draft pours and bomber bottles-to-go ($15, with a half-case limit). More bottles will hit store shelves in the following week.
Bery'ls Beer Company will tap a stout today that was aged in Fireside bourbon barrels from Mile High Distillery. It will also have the un-barrel-aged version on tap.
Dry Dock Brewing will tap a firkin of Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry Porter at 3 p.m. today at its original South Dock tasting room.
Saturday, February 14
The highly-anticipated Ratio Beerworks, at 2920 Larimer Street, will host a grand opening party today from noon to midnight. The new RiNo brewery includes a 1,500-square-foot taproom and 4,000-square-foot production facility and will offer five flagship beers to start with, including an extra pale ale, a dark Scotch ale and a French-American saison; a food truck will be on hand as well. Ratio's normal hours will be 3 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; noon to midnight Friday and Saturdays; and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays. The brewery will be closed on Mondays.
Lucky Pie LoDo and Proper Barbershop are calling all bearded men and the ladies who love them to celebrate handsome hairy faces and drink barrel-aged beer tonight starting at 6 p.m. Proper will be offering complimentary beard grooming, and beards deemed the sexiest will be rewarded with gifts. Lucky Pie will be pouring the following goodness: Crooked Stave's Motif, Elevation's Signal de Botrange, Epic's Big Bad Baptist, River North's Barrel Aged Avarice, Great Divide's Oak Aged Yeti, Butcherknife's Red Wine Barrel Aged Barley Wine, Breckenridge Brewery's Bourbon Barrel Aged 72 Imperial Stout, and Dry Dock's Bourbon Barrel Aged Double Hazelnut Brown.
River North Brewery will continue its weekend-long birthday extravaganza today with side-by-side tappings at 1 p.m. of its three Anniversary Ales: #1, a 12.5 percent stout; #2, a 10.2 percent Golden Strong Ale; and #3, a 17.2 percent Bière de Garde. Both of the previous year's vintages are the last kegs in the brewery. The Roaming Bull Brasserie food truck will be on hand.
All five Mountain Sun-owned breweries and restaurants in Boulder, Denver and Longmont will tap two beers today just for Valentine's Day as part of the ongoing Stout Month through February. The first is Cherry Chocolate Stout, brewed with milk chocolate, dark chocolate and and a blend of over 300 pounds of dark sweet cherries and red tart cherries. The second is a beer that Strange Craft made just for this event, Belgian Chocolate Raspberry Love Stout, brewed with raw organic cocoa nibs from Ghana and fermented with a special Belgian yeast and then aged on forty pounds of of raspberries.
Bru Handbuilt Ales & Eats in Boulder will host a Valentine's Day dinner special tonight starting at 4 p.m. "Each course incorporates both barley and hops in the eats and then pairs it" with one of Bru's beers, according to the restaurant. Courses include a woodroasted oyster with cascade smoked chorizo and malt aioli paired with Solus Patersbier, and charred kale salad with malt brittle, pickled whole cone hops, citrum buttermilk dressing and shaved carrots paired with Citrum IPA. Seating is limited; for reservations -- $40 per person -- call 720-638-5193. For more details, go to bruboulder.com.
Sunday, February 15
River North Brewery will continue its weekend-long birthday extravaganza today with a cellar sale. The brewery will be offering rare bottles from the past year, starting at 1 p.m. An official list and format will be released later, but look for beers from the past two years to be included. The taproom will also host a beer and doughnut pairing from Bronuts.
Monday, February 16
River North Brewery will conclude its weekend-long birthday extravaganza today by tapping some rare kegs. The brewery opens at 1 p.m. for the holiday.
Tuesday, February 17
All five Mountain Sun-owned breweries and restaurants in Boulder, Denver and Longmont will release another imperial stout today as part of the company's annual Stout Month. The beer is 10.3 percent ABV Nihilist Russian Imperial Stout, which was brewed with orange blossom honey, Chinook and Amarillo hops. "Complex notes of coffee, chocolate, orange and cherry fill the palette, while an ample addition of bittering hops ensure a smooth ride all the way to the last drop," the brewery says.
The Roaming Bull Brasserie food truck and Black Shirt Brewing are hosting a crawfish boil for Fat Tuesday today from 5 to p.m. at the brewery. A ticket is $35 and includes all-you-can-eat crawfish, potatoes, and corn on the cob, as well as two cans of BSB beer.
Wednesday, February 18
Copper Kettle will bring back its annual Decadent Chocolate Cask Month in February, offering different Imperial beers each Wednesday along with doughnut pairings (in limited quantities) from Glazed and Confuzed. This week's pairing is Copper Kettle's Chocolate Toasted Coconut Imperial Porter with a turtle doughnut, caramel glaze with chocolate drizzle and sweet, salty crunchy pecans. The Truck Yeah Food Truck will be there at 4 p.m.
Thursday, February 19
Boozy local blog Denver Off the Wagon turns four years old this month. As it does every year, the bloggers have teamed up with a local brewery to create a celebratory beer. In this case, Off the Wagon joined Former Future to brew a 7.8 percent ABV imperial IPA called 4×4. To make it, they used four grains, four hop varieties, four yeast strains (to highlight the fourth anniversary. You can find the beer at Former Future starting tonight, and then at Star Bar, starting tomorrow.
Saturday, February 21
Denver Beer Co will host its fourth annual Beer, Bacon & Coffee Fest from 9 a.m. to noon today at the brewery's Platte Street location. Each ticket holder gets a breakfast burrito, coffee from Coda Coffee Company, and all-you-can-eat bacon from Denver Bacon Company. You will also receive a souvenir mug to fill with all the "breakfast-inspired" brews you can drink from Denver Beer Co.
Sunday, February 22
Avery Brewing, which just opened its new taproom and restaurant earlier in the week, will host its first bottle release today, starting at 11 a.m. when people can begin buying Batch No. 4 of the highly-acclaimed bourbon-barrel-aged Uncle Jacob's Stout. The 16.9 percent ABV beer has become one of the brewery's signatures. Each bottle is $12 and there is a limit of one case (24 bottles) per person. Other Avery beers will be flowing from the brewery's new thirty-tap wall, both into pint glasses and into growlers.
Copper Kettle Brewing and Hops & Pie have teamed up to offer the Snowed In Brunch, a craft beer and gourmet cuisine breakfast that's taking place at the brewery at 8 a.m. and again at 10:30. The brunch will feature a four-year vertical tasting of Snowed In, Copper Kettle's bourbon-barrel-aged imperial oatmeal coffee stout, dating back every year to 2011, when the brewery first opened. The menu from Hops & Pie is three courses: "White Corn Grits, Smokey Tomato Jam & Hickory Shrimp; Candied Bacon, Deviled Egg & Tiny Hash Browns; and Handmade Apple/Sage Pork Sausage, Fresh Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits & Maple/Bourbon Gravy." Tickets are $55 and will sell out.
Tuesday, February 24
All five Mountain Sun-owned breweries and restaurants in Boulder, Denver and Longmont will release another imperial stout today as part of the company's annual Stout Month. The beer is Bourbon Barrel-Aged Addiction Coffee Imperial Stout, which is the brewery's coffee-infused Imperial Stout aged several months in Maker's Mark Bourbon barrels.
Wednesday, February 25
Copper Kettle will bring back its annual Decadent Chocolate Cask Month in February, offering different Imperial beers each Wednesday along with doughnut pairings (in limited quantities) from Glazed and Confuzed. This week's pairing is Copper Kettle's Chocolate Hazelnut Peanut Butter Imperial Brown Ale with a strawberry shortcake doughnut, strawberry jelly glaze with a shortcake spike whipped cream. The Truck Yeah Food Truck will be there at 4 p.m. Here is Renegade Brewing founder Brian O'Connell's full letter.
An open Letter on AB Buyouts and Advertising From the Founder and President of Renegade
To anyone who gives a shit:
Buyouts have been a hot topic lately with the recent purchase of 10 Barrel Brewing and Elysian Brewing by AB InBev. As a small brewery owner, I have reflected a lot on these changes to the industry and here is why these purchases should matter to you the consumer:
Craft Beer is Independent
Craft beer, by definition, is independent. We are making more than beer, we are supporting a way of life that is truly American. We are group of rag tag bootstrapped businesses banding together to make something of the highest quality. We are making something in America by American owned businesses and in the process creating good jobs in quality work environments where people are respected and valued. We are saying no to corporate models of making the cheapest product possible and covering it up with advertising.
The more buyouts that occur, the less independent this industry becomes. This means that we have fewer voices to stand up for legislation that benefits small independent business owners like preventing the sale of full strength beer in grocery and convenience stores in Colorado. This issue could threaten the livelihood of many small brewers and liquor store owners and will certainly lead to fewer craft choices for Colorado consumers. Would AB object to this legislation? I think not.
Small and independent also means there are a lot of us. We are sprinkled throughout the country in many different communities contributing to many different local economies through sales and excise taxes. Craft brewers also have a rich tradition of generously donating to local charitable causes (every week Renegade donates a portion of sales to a local animal shelter). More consolidation means less impact on local economies.
Now, I am not unaware that every business owner needs an exit strategy, but craft brewery owners need to find exit strategies that don't endanger craft as a whole. With fewer independent brewers, the market that is based on creativity and uniqueness will be more based on profit and cost savings, which brings me to my next point.
Craft Beer is Not a Margin Game it's a Quality Game
Craft beer is not a margin game. It is in the sense that you need to have some margin or you will be closing your doors. But, unlike macro brewers, craft brewers don't compete with each other solely on margin. Craft brewers compete on quality and creativity. This benefits you directly as the consumer. Teaching AB InBev to compete on quality and creativity is a bit like teaching an old dog a new trick. Their corporate structure is based on dumbing down their product to save costs and using marketing to cover up their short comings.
If AB continues to acquire craft brands, their corporate muscle will allow them to get a six pack price of "craft" beer in their portfolio well below the price that Renegade Brewing or any other small independent brewer can offer. Our margins are so thin I could give you a clean shave with them, but I will never compromise the quality of our product to increase that margin. As the craft uninitiated begins to try these AB "craft" brands, they won't know that quality has slipped because they are coming from drinking Bud. They will only know that the price of this "craft" six pack is $2 less than my six pack, it has more flavor than Bud, and I must be sitting in my mansion somewhere getting fat and happy of my extra expensive six pack. In reality, I make difficult budget decisions everyday in running my business because we operate off such a small margin.
Well how big is this craft uninitiated part of the market, you ask? Only a mere 92% of beer market belongs to the macro brands. Yes, price wars are a serious threat to craft beer. And, if you don't think that AB will water down quality, consider their latest move.
Craft Beer Quality Will Be Watered Down by Macro Buyouts
During the 2015 super bowl yesterday, AB aired an ad that purported that Bud is "brewed the hard way" and that it is "made for people who like beer" and is "not made to be dissected". One of the lines that craft brewers have particularly latched onto is "let them sip their pumpkin peach ale". Could AB have been referring to their coffee pumpkin ale? As we all know as of January 23rd AB InBev produces a coffee pumpkin ale called Punkuccino under their newly acquired Elysian line of beers. Or do you think AB is even aware that they now produce this beer?
You see, not two weeks after acquiring one of the most respected craft brands on the market did they start an ad campaign that is directing at hurting the sales of that company. Now if AB's motivations were to buy that brand to build it up, why would they launch a marketing campaign to deliberately hurt the brand they just purchased? I would suspect it is because AB's recent purchase of craft brands is more about watering down the quality and cutting costs and taking the margin that brand has to offer in a short term game. If ultimately the brand dies off and leaves the market, then AB has nothing to lose, they have one less craft beer on the market to compete with Bud, Bud Light and any other low quality macro brand they produce.
Oh, and if you don't think the macro brands will lie to you, you need only consult the line "Brewed the Hard Way". If pushing buttons is brewing beer the hard way, then I don't know what you would call what we do at Renegade, maybe "Beer Brewed the Purely Stupid Way". Everything we do is manual. Our brewers touch every single part of the process. We sweat when we work. We are sore the next day. Are we unique? No, this is craft beer, truly brewed the hard way because we care.
In short, independence is necessary to continue craft beer as you know it. Craft brewers will never out-price or out-advertise AB InBev. But, we can and do, out-do them on quality, creativity and contribution to our local communities.
Thank you for supporting craft beer,
Brian O'Connell Founder and President Renegade Brewing Company
Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan
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