The craft-beer industry has begun feeling the effects of a long-awaited competitive shakeout — layoffs, mergers, declining numbers — but the Boulder-based Brewers Association, which represents the nation's small and independent craft breweries, was still able to report mildly encouraging numbers for 2016.
Despite the fact that several large breweries, including Breckenridge, Ballast Point and Lagunitas, were purchased by large corporations — and therefore no longer qualify as "craft," according to the BA — the nation's independent breweries still reported a 6 percent increase in volume in 2016, to 24.6 million barrels. Furthermore, the retail dollar value of that beer was estimated at $23.5 billion in 2016, or nearly 22 percent of the market share.
"By adding 1.4 million barrels, craft brewer growth outpaced the 1.2 million barrels lost from the craft segment, based on purchases by large brewing companies," the BA said in an economic report that was released Tuesday. "Microbreweries and brewpubs delivered 90 percent of the craft brewer growth."
“As the overall beer market remains static and the large global brewers lose volume, their strategy has been to focus on acquiring craft brewers," adds BA economist Bart Watson. "This has been a catalyst for slower growth for small and independent brewers and endangered consumer access to certain brands. Small and independent brewers were able to fill in the barrels lost to acquisitions and show steady growth, but at a rate more reflective of today’s industry dynamics. The average brewer is getting smaller and growth is more diffuse within the craft category, with producers at the tail helping to drive growth for the overall segment.”
That idea is borne out by the fact that the number of craft breweries increased by 16.6 percent in 2016. There are now a total of 5,301 operating breweries in the United States, including the non-craft ones. Of those, 3,132 are microbreweries, 1,916 are brewpubs, 186 are regional craft breweries (meaning they make more than 15,000 barrels per year), and 67 are large or otherwise non-craft brewers. So, "small and independent breweries account for 99 percent of the breweries in operation," the BA says.
Now, here are this week's craft-beer events.
Wednesday, March 29
Did you miss Collaboration Fest, or just some of the beers you really wanted to try? Head to First Draft Taproom & Kitchen, which will be pouring more than two dozen of the collaborations starting at 5 p.m. and for a couple of days, until they kick. Most will get tapped today, though there some reserves to carry the taproom through the weekend; check out Tap Hunter to see if a specific beer is on tap. The list includes Lonetree/Platt Park Unicorn Nectar ISB, Locavore/Goldspot Bandwagon IPA, Alpine Dog/Mountain Toad Lemon Zest Grisette, Station 26/Exile Space Goose Super Saison, Little Machine/Bierstadt Lagerhaus A Team Steam, Joyride/Little Machine West Side is the Blessed Side, Horse & Dragon/Funkwerks 3 Blossom, Ratio/Weldwerks Chocolate Orange Belgian Tripel, OMF/Wiley Roots Precious Medals, Odyssey/River North Nightcap, Tivoli/Butcherknife Highway 40, Jagged Mountain/Uberbrew Uberslayer, Cerebral/Great Notion Blurpleberry and many more.
Goldspot Brewing welcomes back Makin' Noise: A Pussy Riot Beer today at 3 p.m. The imperial strawberry saison was first brewed in conjunction with five other breweries, which made the beer in an effort to raise awareness and money for causes that are being ignored under the Trump administration. New versions of the beer are being brewed in April by different breweries to support environmental causes. In the meantime, though, you can try the original at Goldspot. A portion of each purchase of the Pussy Riot beer will be donated to One Colorado.
Black Project Wild & Spontaneous Ales will tap a new beer, Magic Lantern, today at 4 p.m. The beer is a traditional salted gose brewed with apricots and blood oranges. "Dominant flavors include apricot sweetness and aroma, blood-orange tartness, and a strong saltiness. Apricot and blood orange are complementary, creating a perfect blend of ripe fruit and a tart finish," the brewery says.
March is Girl Scout Cookie Cask month at Copper Kettle, which is tapping a different firkin of a beer each Wednesday that is inspired by the famous cookies. Today's is Coconut Chocolate Belgian Strong, "a malty, amber ale with chocolate and coconut" that was inspired by Samoas. Basecamp Provisions food truck will be on hand.
Friday, March 31
Alpine Dog Brewing will tap a New-England-style IPA today at 5 p.m. called Thunder Puppy. "Our usual West Coast IPA is sitting one out while we rotate in an East Coast-inspired version," the brewery says. "Brewed for a fuller/creamier body with fruity and dank hops, this beer will be hazier and feature the newer hop varieties Mosaic and Citra while keeping ’merican IPA roots with some Cascade in there as well."
Join Cerebral Brewing for the tapping of Time Crystal, a new IPA. The beer was brewed with malted and flaked oats and hopped with immense amounts of Galaxy and a sprinkling of Amarillo. Burgerchief will be parked outside starting at 4 p.m.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project will release L'Brett d'Cherry - Harvest 2016 today at 5 p.m. L'Brett d'Cherry is a golden sour ale aged in oak barrels with Colorado cherries that will be sold in 750 ml bottles. Crooked Stave will also release a limited amount of Petite Sour Reserva Cassis. This is the brewery's reserve sour ale aged in oak with black currants (available in 375ml bottles). Both will also be on tap.
Saturday, April 1
One part April Fool's Day prank, one part real beer, Khores Ballroom Beer will return to Call to Arms Brewing at noon today, and will be available to go in three-packs of 32-ounce crowler cans (there are 200 three-packs available). Designed to taste like Coors Banquet Beer, Khores is indeed an "all-grain American classic...brewed with 100 percent ice-cold Rocky Mountain water for pure lager refreshment," CTA says. Last year on April 1, the brewery claimed it had been bought out by "Peat Coors" for a billion and one dollars. "They've agreed to give us complete autonomy under their umbrella, and we plan to use the money to buy the Lakeview Lounge, open a deli/pizzeria, and of course give back to the community," CTA said then. This time around, Call to Arms claims it has finally cashed the check and decided to use the money to throw a party. "We'll have live music from the Khores Sexy Band from 2 to 3 p.m., and people will be able to take pictures with the Khores Sexy Man throughout the afternoon. We'll also be raffling off two Khores Sexy Man banners at 3 p.m.," says the brewery.
The Colorado Let's Talk Craft Beer Facebook group will descend on Beryl's Beer Company at 2 p.m. today as part of its Beer Mob program to help support the brewery, which is suffering because of continuing construction and street closures on Blake Street and elsewhere in RiNo. Mama Said Eat will be out front with food.
Epic Brewing will release the fifth in its Oak & Orchard Sour Series today; this is the second version of the Oak & Orchard Syrah (Syrah Trois). "This time around, we went with a little less funk and a lot more fruit. We loaded one of our Napa Valley foeders with our sour saison and so much blueberry, boysenberry and black currant that it was practically bursting at the seams, resulting in a beer that explodes with huge, fruity, wine-like notes," the brewery says. There will be 661 cases of the beer, in 350 ml bottles, available. It comes in at 8.5 percent ABV.
Baere Brewing will release two bottles today and tap its 400th batch brewed, Totes Hops, Totes Pops, a collaboration with Cerebral Brewing. The bottled beers are Batch 1 and Batch 2 of Duplicitous, a mixed-culture barrel-fermented and aged dark sour.
A brewery-in-planning called The Larimer will release a beer at noon today at Crazy Mountain Brewing in Denver, where it made the beer. La Resistance Sour Ale, at 4.6 percent ABV, was brewed with pink Himalayan salt and will be available on draft and in cans. A portion of sales will be donated to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
Two Penguins Tap and Grill in Centennial will bring back its Hop Wars today, this time featuring five hazy, New England-style IPAs, which will go toe-to-toe for your love. The Haze Awakens takes place from 3 to 6 p.m and features beer from Cerebral Brewing, Weldworks, Wiley Roots, Odd13 Brewing and Fiction Beer Company.
Lost Highway Brewing will say goodbye to its home on Colfax Avenue today with a party starting at noon. The brewery is moving to Centennial, where it hopes to expand production and packaging; this will be its last day in Capitol Hill. There will be live music with Jim Dalton & Amigos from 2 to 5 p.m., followed by games and giveaways throughout the night. Share your favorite story with Lost Highway on its Facebook page.
Tuesday, April 4
Today, Ratio Beerworks brings back Domestica, a beer infused with Oakland coffee. "While not quite a lager, due to the use of California ale yeast, this crisp, refreshing, American Standard Ale draws close similarities to Pilsners and classic American Lagers," the brewery says. "However, inject Domestica post-fermentation with a toddy cold brew of Oakland coffee and you get a bright, unique infusion of roasted coffee flavors while still appearing bright and golden in hue with a clean refreshing finish."
Friday, April 7
Avery Brewing will debut its newest (and long-awaited) beer, Coconut Porter, in its revamped Botanicals & Barrels series of 22-ounce barrel-aged beers. "Copious amounts of coconut coupled with time spent aging in bourbon barrels make this Coconut Porter a rich and silky treat that will transport you to the tropics," the brewery says. Coconut Porter will be a year-round offering. Avery will sell bottles of the beer starting at 11 a.m., and the restaurant will have a Coconut Porter-inspired menu to pair with it.
Saturday, April 8
Princess Yum Yum Raspberry Kolsch returns to Denver Beer Co today at 11 a.m. The taproom will be decked out in pink in order to welcome back this "summertime pink and sparkly beer," the brewery says. Princess costumes and tiaras encouraged.
At noon on the second Saturday of each month, Bierstadt Lagerhaus fills its wooden Fässer with one of its Keller lagers directly from the lager tank. The unfiltered lager changes each time depending on what brewers Bill and Ashleigh think is tasting particularly good. It's on until it's gone, which was just under 3.5 hours last month. This time around, it looks like there will be some Keller Maibock on the table.
Hops & Pie will host its own Sour Fest today starting at noon. There will be beers from Crooked Stave, Wicked Weed, Almanac, Tilquin, Casey Brewing, Ale Apothecary, Russian River, Westbrook, Cascade, Ecliptic, The Bruery, Lost Abbey, Off Color, Drie Fonteinen, Jester King, Cantillon, Green Flash and American Solera.
After more than two years of patiently waiting, Weldwerks Brewing in Greeley is finally ready to release the first bottle from its barrel-aged sour program, Peach Climacteric. To make it, the brewery started with a blend of pale golden sours, fermented with multiple strains of Brettanomyces and bacteria and aged in oak barrels for four to sixteen months. It was then blended with over 1,600 pounds of fresh peaches from Palisade. Peach Climacteric will be Weldwerks' first 750 ml bottle release and is also the first beer it has bottle-conditioned. The brewery opens at 11 a.m., and each bottle is $28, with a strict limit of two per person.
Sunday, April 9
Station 26 Brewing hosts its monthly Bluegrass Brunch today, starting at 11 a.m. There will be plenty of beer, along with live music from McCloskey & Miller, doughnuts from Glazed and Confuzed, and barbecue from Turn-In BBQ.
Thursday, April 15
Renegade Brewing is adding a new beer, Runaway IPA, to its year-round lineup and will celebrate tonight from 5 to 10 p.m. And if you buy a pint between those hours, you get a free Runaway pint glass and a six-pack of the beer, while supplies last. Humble Monster Screen Printed Goods will be doing live screen printing of Runaway shirts.
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Saturday, April 22
To help support the construction of affordable homes, 21 Denver-area craft breweries, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, will participate in Hops for Homes, a beer fest and fundraiser taking place today at Great Divide's RiNo location. There will be two sessions, with 400 tickets available for each — and the potential to raise $20,000 for Habitat for Humanity. This summer, brewery employees will volunteer to help build a home (The House That Beer Built) in the Sheridan Square Development, which will then be sold to a local low-income family. "The need for affordable housing has never been greater in Denver. In fact, metro Denver has the highest home prices of any U.S. city not located on a coast," Habitat says. Participating breweries include Boggy Draw, Call to Arms, Cerebral, Crazy Mountain, Dead Hippie, Declaration, Diebolt, Dry Dock, Epic, Fiction, Great Divide, Grist, Living the Dream, Mockery, Ratio Beerworks, Renegade, Resolute, Seedstock, Station 26, 4 Noses and 38 State. Additionally, each brewery will be hosting individual fundraising events and promotions to raise more funds for Habitat. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to HabitatBeerBuild.org.
Comrade Brewing will celebrate its third anniversary today with a blowout from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. There will be twenty different beers on tap, including Wheated Bourbon Whiskey BA Quit Stalin; Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey BA Quit Stalin; Grapefruit Superpower; 2016 Quit Stalin; 2016 Kentucky Barrel Aged Quit Stalin; and BA Vanilla Coffee Quit Stalin (at 5 p.m.) "Our limited-edition glassware for the anniversary party is a Rastal Craft Master Two, which has spiral nucleation — giving your beer constant bubbling," the brewery adds. "These will be available in the taproom in limited quantities."
Saturday, April 29
Parry's Pizzeria & Bar and Avery Brewing return today with their sixth annual Big Ass Tap Takeover at five Parry's locations, in Northglenn, Longmont, Highlands Ranch, Greenwood Village and Castle Rock. As always, there will be an astounding fifteen to forty different Avery beers on tap at each location, starting at 11 a.m., including "highly sought-after bottles at select locations," Parry's says, and "brewery representatives will be present at several locations for some good conversations and perhaps a toast or two." The Longmont location will have live music, as well as hourly drawings for cool craft-beer goodies including Avery VIP brewery tours.
Join Bruz Beers for its first annual Belgian Brew Fest today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring ten Colorado breweries pouring their best Belgian-style beer. There will also be plenty of great food trucks, and music from Velvet Compass and the Goonies. Tickets are $48 and available at eventbrite.com.