Beer Man

Breckenridge celebrates its twentieth birthday with two parties and great sales

Breckenridge Brewery is almost old enough to drink.

The company, which was founded in 1990 by Richard Squire, will celebrate its twentieth anniversary this week with a couple of parties and a nod to strong sales.

Breckenridge is now the state's third oldest microbrewery and the 46th largest nationwide.

In 2008, beer sales at Breckenridge were slowing down, so the brewery decided to raise prices by $2 per case to bring its beer in line with other Colorado craft beers, says brewery spokeswoman Terry Usry. "Some breweries chose to take a more graduated approach to raising prices. We chose to do it all at once and then keep it stable."

The decision could have been detrimental, but instead of dropping, sales of Breckenridge beers like Avalanche Ale, Vanilla Porter, Lucky U IPA and Agave Wheat, remained steady, and earnings numbers increased by 103 percent in 2009. In 2010, demand has begun increasing again, and sales volume is up 17 percent since January.

That success has allowed the brewery to make some investments.

In April, Breckenridge announced that it would add a third Denver pub in the former Amato's garden store at 16th and Central streets; the upscale Amato's Ale House by Breckenridge Brewery is expected to open next spring and feature forty beers on tap, small plates, beer dinners and a rooftop patio overlooking the city.

And in June, the company said it had added four people to its sales staff and planned to spend $25,000 on an indoor/outdoor beer garden that it will use for special events -- like the two twentieth anniversary events it will hold this week. "It is outdoors but enclosed and the only access is from inside," Usry says, adding that there is a stage, a fountain, a bar with several tap handles, pergolas and landscaping.

On Thursday, July 8, Breck's primary production pub at 471 Kalamath Street will host a dinner with brewmaster Todd Usry that includes four courses and five beers. Tickets are $40 per person and must be purchased in advance at the brewery.

On Saturday, July 10, the pub on Kalamath will invite its micro-boozy neighbors -- Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey and the Infinite Monkey Theorem winery -- as well as the public to a pig roast and birthday party, where they will be able to enjoy some special single-barrel experiments and firkin-treated mainline beers that aren't typically on tap (whiskey and wine samples will also be available).

Tickets, $20, are available at the door and include unlimited food and beer; a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Colorado Brewers Guild. The outdoor party runs from noon to 6 p.m. and includes music by Marty Jones and the Great Unknown, The Goat Ropers and Joe Apice of Foma.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes