On the eve of the Great American Beer Festival, which takes place October 3 through 5 at the Colorado Convention Center, the Boulder-based Brewers Association has released its annual economic survey on the craft-brewing industry.
The headline-grabber? Small and independent craft brewers contributed $79.1 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018 and provided more than 550,000 total jobs, with 150,000 of those at breweries and brewpubs. That figure "is derived from the total impact of beer brewed by craft brewers as it moves through the three-tier system (breweries, wholesalers and retailers), as well as all non-beer products like food and merchandise that brewpub restaurants and brewery taprooms sell," the BA says. It doesn't include numbers from breweries that the association doesn't consider to be craft breweries — some of the biggest in the nation.
Colorado came in sixth among the fifty states, with an economic impact of $3.285 billion. However, it came in fourth in jobs, with 25,329, and first in terms of economic impact per capita for people over 21.
“With small breweries in every state and nearly every congressional district in the country, craft brewers are a vital and growing part of the economy in cities and towns all across the country,” BA chief economist Bart Watson said in a statement. “Beer lovers are spending their dollars by supporting small and independent brewers in their local communities and across the country, and its positive impact is evident nationwide.”
Keep reading for craft-beer tappings and events through Sunday, September 29.
Wednesday, September 25
Black Shirt Brewing releases Hug Like You Mean It, a 7.3 percent ABV "wheat-free" New England-style IPA brewed with Amarillo and Mosaic hops. The beer will be on tap and in Crowlers to go.
Traveling One Barrel Wednesday introduces the first beer hailing from Dead Hippie Brewing, which has replaced the Brew on Broadway (which closed this past summer) as part of the four-brewery group. The Real Dill Thai Chili B.A.B. Belgian Strong Ale was brewed as a strong ale and then a Thai chili brine made with the Real Dill was added. "Look for the spice to balance the fruity esters of this Belgian strong ale," Dead Hippie says. The beer will go on tap at 3 p.m. at Dead Hippie, Chain Reaction Brewing, Black Sky Brewery and Strange Craft Beer Company.
Thursday, September 26
It's always a good day when Great Divide Brewing pumps up the hops, and the brewery will release a brand-new beer, Hopnaut Double Juicy IPA, in both of its taprooms today on draft and in six-packs. The 8 percent ABV beer replaces Hop Disciples in Great Divide's Dank Farm series. "Brewed and double-dry-hopped with an unearthly amount of Simcoe, El Dorado, Mosaic and Huell Melon hops, this beer lifts off with over a pound and a half of hops per barrel. Showcasing bold tropical fruit and citrus notes along with hints of berry, stone fruit, pine and bubblegum, Hopnaut Double Juicy IPA is an extraterrestrial sensory experience," the brewery says.
Friday, September 27
Black Shirt Brewing will celebrate its seventh anniversary with a Lucky Seven Throw Down in the beer garden from 7 to 11 p.m., which will include a special release and some unusual tappings. Pleasure to Meet You, the second of the brewery's bottle-conditioned, mixed-culture saisons, this time dry-hopped with Mosaic hops, will be released. Other tappings include a saison aged in a Woody Creek Straight Bourbon barrel, at 7 p.m.; Seventh Anniversary Quad, blended from several barrels and then transferred to steel, at 8 p.m.; and Belgian Quad with coffee from Huckleberry Roasters' El Salvador/San Rafael blend, at 9 p.m. With each tapping, the brewery will also serve up spent-grain noshes from the kitchen. A DJ will spin tunes from the pallet stage from 7 to 10 p.m., and there may also be a glassware deal. There is no charge to attend; black shirts are encouraged but not required.
Little Machine Beer Company will tap Surface of the Moon Barrel Aged Sour. The 6.3 percent ABV sour is a hybrid of the brewery's "multiple major award-winning raspberry beer and our fan-favorite black currant beer that was re-fermented with mixed culture in Chardonnay barrels."
Verboten Brewing in Loveland releases its 2016 award-winning brew, Little Nonsense Bourbon Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout, in two different twelve-ounce cans, starting at 11 a.m. Along with the original recipe, there will also be a mocha version made with coffee, vanilla and chocolate.
Saturday, September 28
Our Mutual Friend hosts a big party for its anniversary every year (which happens to be just before GABF) to thank fans and customers and to celebrate "friendship and the beer made possible by it." This year, there will be more than thirty OMF beers on tap from 2 to 10 p.m., including special bottle and can releases. There will also be food trucks, merchandise giveaways, a photo booth and more.
Fiction Beer Company marks its five-year anniversary with a "carnival" staring at 1 p.m. with live music from the Dollhouse Thieves at 5 p.m.; food from Brava Pizzeria; carnival games like plinko, tic-tac-toe toss, Skee-Ball, frog hop and hole-in-one putting; and two can releases: the Recurrence Quadruple Dry-Hopped Triple New England Style IPA, and Steep Imperial Coffee Stout brewed in collaboration with Pablo’s Coffee. Fiction will also have two rare beers on draft. The first is Barrel Aged Caramel Macchiato Malice & Darkness, a version of the brewery's 14 percent imperial stout aged on "a touch of caramel and vanilla," the brewery says. "Both flavors are naturally present in toasted oak barrels. Adding just a little caramel and vanilla helps to make these background complexities become the center focus of this version. A mellow sweetness from the beer and the additions complements the bitter dark chocolate flavor of the base beer. All of this amazing flavor is wrapped in a cocoon of subtle bourbon flavor." The second beer is Antiquarian No. 7 American Golden Sour aged on fresh orchard-picked apricots from Paonia. There will also be Nuggs Pablo’s Coffee ice cream scoop floaters for the draft pours of the coffee stout, and root beer floats for the kiddos.
Seedstock Brewing hosts an Oktoberfest party from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., complete with hammerschlagen, a stein-hoisting competition, German-style food, a polka band and more. The brewery, which specializes in Old World lagers and ales, will also tap a very limited amount of its German Dusseldorf Alt, which was named the third-best beer of 2018 by Beer Connoisseur, along with its Bohemian Dunkel, a Czech-style dark lager inspired by the Bohemian dunkel at Prague's U Fleku brewpub. "This dark lager at 5.5-percent ABV has a great mouthfeel, finishing crisp and clean," the brewery says. Seedstock's Marzen is also on tap.
River North Brewery will release bottles of Double Barrel Aged Dubbel, a "deliciously dark" brew sitting at 11.5 percent ABV. It was aged first in a Colorado bourbon barrel and then in a Colorado whiskey barrel.
For the second year in a row, Alamo Drafthouse has teamed up with six breweries for the West Denver Brewery Bike Loop and GABF Kickoff Party, from noon to 6 p.m. For $25, you'll get a bike guide, an eight-ounce taster glass that gets you beer samples at each brewery, a chance to win a free keg, swag giveaways, and happy-hour pricing upon returning to BarFly, the bar inside the Sloan's Lake Alamo Drafthouse (4255 West Colfax Avenue). Try exclusive GABF beers when returning to the Alamo for the tap takeover GABF Kick Off Party with live music at 7 p.m. Go to the Facebook page for details. The six breweries are WestFax, Joyride, Hogshead, Oasis, Strange and Seedstock.
Cannonball Creek Brewing in Golden brings the heat for its second annual Pepper-Palooza, starting at noon. The brewery will pour special chile beers and will be roasting and giving away green chiles for free (while supplies last). From 2 to 4 p.m., there's a homemade salsa contest (see Cannonball's Facebook page for details on entering), and from 5 to 7 p.m., there's live music from the One and Only Jon Ham.
The zombie apocalypse arrives at Lone Tree Brewing at 11 a.m. with the annual release of Hop Zombie Imperial Red IPA. "Weighing in at 9 percent ABV and 90 IBUs, this beer is certain to raise the dead...or at least we hope," the brewery says. There will be undead bartenders, twelve-ounce cans available to go, a limited amount of custom glassware and T-shirts, and food from Colorado Pizza Co. and Ol' Skool Que BBQ (which will be on site with food for people waiting in line).
Odd13 Brewing in Lafayette has been saving up good stuff to release in cans and on draft at noon in honor of GABF week. The first beer is Chainsaw Princess of Karate (a collaboration with Big Choice Brewing), a 6.5 percent kettle sour made with dragonfruit and passionfruit; the brewery will donate $1 for every pint and six-pack purchased to Hope Lives: The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Support Center. The second beer is Colorado Kid, a 7.2 percent IPA made exclusively with Colorado malt, hops and yeast. The final beer is Vic Secret Codename Superman, a variant of the brewery's flagship hazy IPA made with Vic Secret hops.
The Post Brewing in Lafayette hosts Howdy Fest, its annual throwdown celebrating its Howdy Western Pilsner, along with other brews from the Post, Stem Ciders, Odd13 Brewing, Front Range Brewing Company, Liquid Mechanics Brewing Company and Cellar West Artisan Ales. There will be live music from Bowregard and Stillhouse Junkies, along with a mechanical bull, calf roping, a beer puppeteer (you'll just have to show up to find out what that means), and the amazing chicken toss (we don't know, either). Tickets are $15 at howdyfest.com; the entry fee includes one can of beer. Proceeds benefit Pioneer Bilingual Elementary School.
Endo Brewing in Lafayette will mark its second anniversary with a birthday bash from noon to 10 p.m., with music from SoundClub Colorado and Lady Gang; bike-centered contests such as a Slowest Bike Race and a Shine and Show Bike event; food from Mac ’N Noodles and Hangry Hut; and the release of five different barrel-aged beers. You'll have access to 2018 and 2019 variants of No Quarter, a Brett saison aged in Sauvignon Blanc wine barrels; 2017 and 2018 variants of Kill Me, Thrill Me, a Belgian dark strong aged in a Maker’s Mark barrel; and 2017 Belgian Dubbel aged in a Woodford Bourbon barrel.
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Upslope Brewing's Backcountry Taproom returns as the brewery hosts a pop-up taproom experience for anyone who wants to earn a beer by hiking. This year's event, at the top of Grand Park near Parshall, Colorado, will also serve as the release location for a new, limited-edition Double Dry Hopped Pale Ale. Attendees who participate in the family-friendly day hike will get to try the beer first, from 11 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Get more details about the Backcountry Taproom on Upslope's Facebook page.
SOLD OUT: Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project once again is home to Colorado's only location for Zwanze Day, the release of a special beer from Belgium's Cantillon that is tapped simultaneously at a specific number of locations around the world. This takes place at the Source rather than the brewery's Barrel Cellar.
Saturday, September 29
It's a good day to be in Lafayette, because in addition to the events at the three breweries mentioned above, Romero's K9 Club & Tap House will bring back its Lupulin Fiasco, a celebration of IPAs, pales, saisons and sours, all with a bold hop profile. The lineup includes locals as well as many beers and breweries that are only in town for GABF week, such as 3 Floyds Brewing, Beachwood Brewing, Breakside Brewery, Call to Arms Brewing Company, Cerebral Brewing, Comrade Brewing Company, Crooked Stave, Fremont Brewing, Half Acre Beer Company, Jester King Brewery, Knotted Root Brewing Company, Lawson's Finest Liquids, Maine Beer Company, Melvin Brewing, Narrow Gauge Brewing Company, Our Mutual Friend Brewery, Outer Range Brewing Co., Perennial Artisan Ales, Pure Project Brewing, Revision Brewing Company, Societe Brewing Company, Toppling Goliath Brewing Co., WeldWerks Brewing Company and Wiley Roots Brewing. Find more information on the Lupulin Fiasco here.