California's Mad River Brewing returns to Colorado

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California's Mad River Brewing is the latest out-of-state beer maker to try and crack the crowded Colorado market, where taps and liquor store shelf space are at a premium.

But Mad River, located in the town of Blue Lake, may have an edge. It got a lot of buzz at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival after winning the Small Brewing Company of the Year award along with three medals: gold for its 2006 John Barleycorn barleywine, silver for Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, and bronze for Super Chili Pepper Madness. (Aurora's Dry Dock Brewing won the Small Brewing Company award in 2009.)

"We are a growing company right now," says brewery spokeswoman Cindy San Filippo. "Colorado is an obvious place to be." Maui Brewing Company and Tallgrass Brewing Company, of Kansas, both started selling their beer in Colorado in the past month.

Kegs of Mad River's Steelhead brand (which include the extra pale ale, a double IPA, a porter and a stout) are already available on tap around town, she adds. Six-packs should be available at liquor stores beginning in February. After that, the brewery will start selling its other brands, including Jamaica and John Barleycorn.

And it won't be the first time Mad River has been sold in Colorado. San Filippo says the brewery's beers were sold here eight or ten years ago.

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan.

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