Colorado's beer taps and liquor-store shelves are pretty crowded, with what seems like a new out-of-state brewery vying to get into the hands and mouths of savvy drinkers just about every day. In the past few months alone, two of the nation's largest craft breweries — Bell's and Founders — announced plans to enter the market here, while half a dozen or so smaller breweries, such as Silver Moon and Roadhouse, have already ramped up distribution.
But New Yorkers are used to crowds, which is why Brooklyn Brewery, the country's eleventh-largest independent brewery, will begin selling its well-known beers in Colorado starting November 1.
"We're not nervous," says Dave Duffy, Brooklyn Brewery’s vice president of sales and marketing. "We have an awesome distributor and terrific retail partners; we have a big sales team that will be very competitive; and we make really, really good beer. We have everything we need to be successful."
And Duffy should know. He's lived in Colorado for years, working in sales and distribution for Great Divide, New Belgium and Boston Beer Company, as well as acting as a consultant in the beer business. Now, "I finally get to drink my own beers in Colorado," he says. Before this, the brewery had to mail beer to him.
But Brooklyn Brewery also has another secret weapon. In July 2017, the company took a minority financial stake both in Fort Collins-based saison specialist Funkwerks and 21st Amendment Brewery, a San Francisco craft-beer darling. The three breweries began sharing sales and distribution operations in January.
"Now we can support Funkwerks in its home market," Duffy says about the partnership. "We know we are all three stronger when we are sitting shoulder to shoulder."
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The combined sales group, which will use Elite Brands and High Country Beverage as its distributors, will enable the breweries to offer beers from all three companies to bars, liquor stores and restaurants as a package — something that larger brewery groups are able to do.
It has also helped Funkwerks expand. The brewery recently began distribution in Nevada and northern California, and rolled out twelve-packs, smaller bottles and other packaging changes.
Brooklyn Brewery, known for its flagship Brooklyn lager, will throw a series of launch parties up and down the Front Range starting in late October. For instance, you can find it at Falling Rock Tap House on October 30, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and at Parry's Pizzeria in Northglenn on October 31, from 5 to 7 p.m. The brewery will be pouring Brooklyn Lager, Bel Air Sour and Defender IPA, along with several seasonal releases.