Craft beer sampler packs are making a comeback in Colorado

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Although there aren't many of them, craft beer variety packs -- which typically offer three or four different kinds of beers in a twelve-pack -- have been on liquor stores shelves for a while. But that trend looks like it's going to become more prevalent in Colorado this year as several well-known brewers push this style of packaging.

See also: - Breckenridge Brewery will build a twelve-acre, $20 million beer farm in Littleton - Dry Dock Brewing kicks its can into gear at new Aurora production facility - Eight craft beer trends to look for in Colorado in 2013

Great Divide, Breckenridge, New Belgium and Dry Dock are all either selling or planning to sell new variety packs this year, adding to the ranks of other local brewers, like Ska, Left Hand, Grand Lake and Tommyknocker, which already sell variety packs.

"It speaks to the craft beer market. It speaks to how we like to drink and discover new beers," says Todd Thibault, spokesman for Breckenridge Brewery, which will introduce its first canned variety pack this spring, offering Avalanche, SummerBright, Lucky U and Agave Wheat, which the brewery will begin canning for the first time this spring.

Many brewers have stayed away from the idea because there is no way to automatically package variety packs. 'It's very labor intensive because it's all done by hand, so the profitability and your profit margin goes down," Thibault explains.

Great Divide has been selling variety packs for a while, but the Denver brewery began experimenting late last year with a new twelve-pack called the Big Show, which includes only beers with an alcohol level of 7 percent ABV or higher: in this case, Hibernation, Hades, Yeti and Hercules Double IPA.

"We started it very small on purpose, with just a dozen or so accounts, to see how it would do," says Great Divide spokesman Doug Christie. "It's a little higher price point because the beers are the bigger ones. But it did well, so we opened it up to all of Colorado and are testing it here before we go to other states.

"It's the overall trend in the industry where people are looking at a variety in beers," he adds. "People seem to love it."

New Belgium, which makes "Folly" variety packs, has also just introduced a new variety pack that includes seasonal beers it no longer makes on a regular basis -- "fan favorites from the proverbial past," the brewer says. So, in addition to regular beers like Fat Tire, Ranger and 1554, you might also find Loft, Springboard, Giddy Up and 2 Below. None of those last four is available from New Belgium outside of the Folly Pack.

And finally, Dry Dock Brewing, which just opened a new production facility in Aurora and began canning four of its beers, is planning to debut a sampler pack in May.

"It offers a lot of variety, something for everybody," says brewery co-owner Michelle DeLange, who points out that between the brewery's Hop Abomination, its Hefeweizen, ESB and Apricot Blonde, there's bound to be something that someone will like.



's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan

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