The last twelve months have been tough for craft breweries across the country. While competition continues to increase, threatening the livelihoods of many, the brewing world also had to face high-profile allegations of racism and sexism among its ranks, not to mention mergers, buyouts... and hard seltzer. So much hard seltzer. Then there were the threats from calorie-counters, regulatory agencies and big brewers. By the end of 2019, more than 300 breweries will have closed nationwide — more than in any other year.
So it's important to remember that the industry itself is a force, and despite the pressure and the problems, craft brewing contributed more than $79.1 million to the U.S. economy in 2018 and probably more than that in 2019, according to the Boulder-based Brewers Association. Craft brewers also employed 150,000 people.
And there are now officially more than 8,000 breweries across the country — an exact number for 2019 won't be released until next year — despite the closures, which is stunning. That number is likely to rise in 2020, as there are hundreds of breweries in the planning process. In addition, the BA predicts that craft beer production will grow by 4 percent in 2020 — the same rate at which it was growing in the first half of 2019.
All in all, 2019 wasn't terrible. Let's hope 2020 is better.
Continue reading to see craft-beer events into late December.
Wednesday, December 11
Black Shirt Brewing taps a brand-new West Coast-style IPA called Pants Can Dance. Brewed with Citra, Galaxy and Centennial hops, the 7.2 percent ABV beer "is a bold and bright IPA boasting lovely aromatics, a melange of citrus notes and a 'bittersmooth' finish," the brewery says. It was named for a friend of the brewery who suffered a severe ankle injury but was eventually able to dance again.
The Traveling One Barrel Wednesdays breweries will all tap Jack Stout at 3 p.m. "This dry Irish stout is bound to please with its pleasant coffee-like roasted barley and moderate roasted malt aroma," the breweries say. It will be available at Strange Craft, Black Sky, Chain Reaction and Dead Hippie.
Endo Brewing in Lafayette releases Comfortably Numb, a 9.8 percent ABV Russian Imperial Stout, at 3 p.m. "This beast of a stout takes its name from one of Endo's favorite trails in Whistler valley. It has outspoken notes of chocolate, coffee and blackstrap molasses," the brewery says. "Like the twelve-mile IMBA Epic ride, it has just the right amount of bitter, sweet and boozy."
Thursday, December 12
Craft brewing darling Toppling Goliath, a maker of coveted beers in Iowa, will begin limited distribution in Colorado with a kickoff party at Hops & Pie at 11:30 a.m. Available beers include: King Sue, Pseudo Sue, Pompeii, Dorothy's, Double Dry Hopped Light Speed and Dragon Fandango.
Finn's Manor celebrates St. Bernardus Brewing's Abt 12 today by tapping the Belgian beer maker's abbey-style quadrupel and its witbier. To make things more fun, the bar also has rare beers from Maine's Bissell Brothers that will be tapped at 5 p.m. They are Engram American Pale Wheat, The Substance IPA and Precept Pilsner.
Friday, December 13
Ratio Beerworks brings back one of the best parties of the year when it releases 2019 Bourbon Barrel-Aged Genius Wizard Imperial Stout. "This unique event will transport attendees to a mystical new world featuring an immersive art installation by Spectra Art Space," Ratio says. Attendees will also have the first chance to get their hands on this year's rendition of the beer, along with four variants: BA Vanilla Coconut Genius Wizard, BA Maple Pecan Genius Wizard, Espresso Coffee Genius Wizard and BA Mayan Chocolate Genius Wizard. There will also be a stunning lineup of bites from Smok, Tavernetta, Super Mega Bien, Work & Class, Yuan Wonton and Voodoo Doughnut. Tickets are $45 at nightout.com and include four-ounce pours of all five beers, along with one full pour of 2019 Genius Wizard, a bottle of 2019 Bourbon Barrel-Aged Genius Wizard to go, and commemorative Genius Wizard glassware. The party starts at 7 p.m.
Cerverceria Colorado taps Barrel Aged Imperial Churro Stout, a higher ABV version of its unique Churro Stout that was aged in Brandy barrels "for a rich and smooth oak character with some subtle fruit notes to complement the vanilla and cinnamon flavors," the brewery says.
Wit's End Brewing, located inside Strange Craft Beer Company, brings back its holiday favorite, Ugly Sweater Belgian Winter Ale, brewed with palm sugar and roasted pumpkin seeds. Wear your ugliest sweater for the release, as there will be a contest (winner announced around 8 p.m.).
Copper Kettle Brewing's 12 Days of Firkins is back for its annual holiday run beginning today. The brewery will tap a new firkin each day. Today's is Gingersnap Snowed In. There will also be a "Create your Own Ornament" event at the taproom this day starting at 4 p.m.
Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery will tap Gondola Confessions, a 10 percent ABV Russian Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels, at noon.
Seedstock Brewery is closing out its year of historical beer releases (making for a very hard-to-pronounce tap list) by tapping one last Old World beer: a Fredersdorfer. "This bier was the most popular style in Berlin in the 1830s," the brewery says. "It is a pale brown wheat beer brewed with molasses and spicy Saaz hops... with a rich mouthfeel, crisp finish and clean spiciness." Based on its research, Seedstock is the only U.S. brewery that is currently brewing a Fredersdorfer bier.
Falling Rock Tap House welcomes Iowa's Toppling Goliath Brewing to Colorado at 5:30 p.m. by tapping King Sue, Pompeii, Pseudo Sue, DDH Light Speed and Dorothy’s.
New Image Brewing in Arvada has some new versions of old favorites with the 11 a.m. release of Denomination of Origin featuring Papua New Guinea Vanilla Bean and DDH East Coast Transplant with Mosaic hops. Both will be available on tap and in cans to go.
Ursula Brewery in Aurora taps its new Barrel Aged Coffee Cake Stout at 3 p.m. "This beer has hints of cinnamon, vanilla and orange zest," the brewery says. Wear an ugly sweater for $1 off your first beer.
Both Liquid Mechanics Brewing in Lafayette and Denver's Comrade Brewing will tap Liquid Manifesto West Coast IPA. The 6.3 percent ABV collaboration beer was "designed to be well balanced," Liquid Mechanics says. "We used Simcoe hops on the hot side, and dry-hopped it with 3.5 pounds per barrel of Sultana, Mosaic, and Idaho 7 hops. Aroma is tropical fruit forward and the flavor is a delicious balance between citrus, pine, with hints of pineapple and mango playing in the background."
Avery Brewing in Boulder releases the latest treat from its longstanding Barrel Series. Imperial Stoutwork Orange was aged in bourbon and whiskey barrels with fresh orange peel, cacao nibs and cardamom to make it reminiscent of "those chocolate oranges you get around the holidays — the ones you break open on a table and the chocolate splits into little wedges." It will be available on draft and in bottles to go.
Wiley Roots Brewing in Greeley brings back its holiday seasonal, Imperial Something Came in the Mail Imperial Porter, along with a whopping six new variants (see the brewery's Facebook page details). Wiley Roots is also introducing its new Blue Mug Coffee series, "a coffee blonde stout made with the Blue Mug Coffee Bar and Roastery, experimenting with a new hop combination for Swatches, our East Coast IPA series, and debuting new tropical flavors with Pastels, our Milkshake IPA series," the brewery says.
Saturday, Denver 14
"Whether you’re a Festivus alumni or you’ve new to the scene," the organizers of the eighth annual Denver Beer Festivus (Two Parts) invite you to don your ugliest sweater and prepare your list of grievances for one of the best beer fests of the year. Every brewery within Denver’s city limits (some seventy-plus) were invited to share their favorite brews. This year, the event takes place at Major Studios, 3881 Steele Street, from 3 to 6 p.m. For the beer list and tickets, $45 to $60, go to twoparts.com.
The Gingerbread Invitational is back at the Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project/Next Stop Brew Co. for its third year, featuring the annual release of Gingerbread Bock (a collab with Spice Trade Brewing), special guest taps, a holiday beer and cookie pairing with Good Sugar Baking, a small craft market, and, of course, a gingerbread cookie decorating station.
Call to Arms Brewing hosts two events today, one nice and one naughty. The first is the brewery's fifth annual Holiday Market, from noon to 6 p.m. "Inspired by the German Christkindl markets and what has become a Tennyson Street festive favorite," CTA says the market features "lights a-twinklin', decorations galore, artisanal gift vendors, delicious food, and special beer releases." As the skies darken," however, things take a turn for the creepy with the brewery's first Krumpusnacht after-party from 7 to 10 p.m., "featuring Santa's less jolly demonic counterpart. The evening includes a costume contest procession, DJ, general mischief, Krampus debauchery, and real live Krampus entertainers to terrify you," Call to Arms says.
With the opening of its new taproom at 3400 Blake Street, River North Brewery "included a seven-barrel brew setup that we could experiment with to bring our friends some fun beers," the brewery says. Today's release is Hyperdrive Motivator, a version of River North's Mountain Haze New England-style IPA with Galaxy hops. There will also be a Mini Pies and Mini Beers event with Good Sugar Baking and Ugly Sweaters.
Hops & Pie celebrates the great state of Maine by tapping beers from Bissell Brothers, Peak Organic and Oxbow and serving up chef/co-owner Drew Watson's banging Clam Chowdah and Lobster Grilled Cheese (while they last). The tap list includes: Bissell's The Substance, Engram and Precept; Oxbow's Moon Rocks and Infinite Darkness; and Peak's Sweet Tarts Blueberry and Fresh Cut.
Denver Beer Co. and Cervezeria Colorado will tap a few limited-edition holiday brews at their Toy Drive & Ugly Sweater Parties, which run from 11 a.m. to midnight at DBC's Denver and Arvada locations, and at Cerveceria Colorado, which is next door to the Denver taproom. Anyone who wears a sweater and brings in a toy gets a free second beer with the purchase of their first. Toys will be donated to the Denver Santa Claus Shop. The holiday beer at Cerveceria (where there will also be piñata smashing and churro cake is Ponche Villa, a warm, spiced Christmas punch made by simmering typical Mexican fruits with cane sugar and spices; this version is a Vienna lager brewed with pear, apple, orange zest, cinnamon, raisins, clove, and piloncillo.
POSTPONED: 4 Noses Brewing in Broomfield unveils three barrel-aged bottled beers as part of its annual holiday release event, starting at 11 a.m. Single Barrel Select BMF Imperial Stout was aged in a Colorado Rye Whisky barrel, giving it notes of vanilla and a slight spiciness. Columbian Rum BMF Imperial Stout was aged in Columbian Rum casks and bottle-conditioned with blackstrap molasses, giving it oak and spice flavors that are balanced by chocolate and coffee. Toasted Coconut Bourbon BMF Imperial Stout was aged in Colorado Bourbon and second-use Port barrels; "the toasted coconuts accentuate the barrel character and bring forward some intense depth to this already complex imperial stout," the brewery says.
It's Funky Bottle Release day at Primitive Beer Company in Longmont, which has some weird and wacky beers to unleash upon the world at noon. Beers include:Harbored in the Fuzz, an effervescent spontaneous beer refermented on Colorado-grown red globe peaches; Harvest Glitter, a sparkling hop-focused beer rested in chardonnay barrels; and Festive Splash, a brand-new still beer in boxes.
Wednesday, December 18
4 Noses Brewing in Broomfield will release two new beers in sixteen-ounce cans and on draft. Both are part of its Velvet series. The first is Cherry Pie Velvet Milkshake IPA, made with cherries, graham crackers and Monroe hops, which push the cherry flavor even further. The second beer is Extra Pineapple Velvet, an amped up version of the brewery's original Pineapple Velvet. "We wanted to make this beer as juicy and creamy as possible and we certainly accomplished that," 4 Noses says. "This pineapple and citrus-forward beer has a full-bodied mouthfeel due to the added lactose and choice of malt used."
Thursday, December 19
Comrade Brewing kicks off its holiday party at 4 p.m. by tapping five different versions of its Quit Stalin Russian Imperial Stout (they will not last long): Coffee Maple Quit Stalin, Blueberry Nuttyness Quit Stalin, Strawberry Pop Tart Quit Stalin, Coconut Quit Stalin, and Bananas Foster Quit Stalin. Ugly sweaters encouraged; Christmas cookies will be provided.
Friday, December 20
Would you rather be on a beach somewhere instead of shoveling your car out after yet another snowstorm? That's the question that forms the basis of Little Machine Beer Company's July in Christmas party, where you can forget about winter from 7 to 11 p.m. "We're cranking up the heat to 80 degrees. Everyone in beach attire will get a free beer. And we're re-releasing customer favorite Concrete Paradise Pineapple IPA," the brewery says. "Bring your friends to be your backup singers during Karaoke starting at 8 p.m., and Bad Santa will be on site for photo ops and free lap rides." There will also be palm trees, summertime games and kiddie pools.
Brut la Grande Belgian-style Champagne Beer returns to Bruz Beers. This pale golden 10 percent ABV beer has a dense off-white head and a "perfumy aroma that yields notes of lemons, apricots, allspice, and black pepper," the brewery says. "Its complex flavor profile hints at tart apples, peaches, citrus, vanilla and exotic spices. It is light and airy with a silky mouthfeel, creamy pinpoint carbonation and a tart, bone-dry finish."
Denver Beer Co. releases a limited number of Crowlers of Cinnamon Toast Crunch Graham Cracker Porter at both of its locations in Denver and Arvada. This is DBC's classic Graham Cracker Porter with cassia cinnamon and brown sugar. The 5.6 percent ABV beer will also be on tap.
Thirsty Monk will tap Bretted Pale Ale at 2 p.m. The beer was fermented with a blend of the brewery's house Belgian yeast and two strains of Brettanomyces "to lend aromas of orange and grapefruit peel, cut grass and leather, with spicy flavors of black pepper, pear and subtle stone fruits," Thirsty Monk says.
Cerebral Brewing will have fresh cans of two of its beers starting at noon. They are Strange Claw IPA, hopped with Citra and Columbus; and Nordic Noir, a 10.5 percent ABV Baltic porter aged in foeders.
Avery Brewing will release bottles of Rocky Mountain Olsons — a taproom-only offering. "Long, long ago, on a snowy day in The Alley, our Cellar Manager John Olson dropped some malted milk balls into a stout," the brewery explains. "The result? Rocky Mountain Olsons. This creation is beloved by our brewers, and they wanted to share it with you as a holiday treat. Rocky Mountain Olsons is a stout aged in Bourbon barrels with milk chocolate malted milk balls."
Saturday, December 21
Hops & Pie hosts one hell of a Stout and Holiday Beer Fest starting at noon when it taps: WeldWerks Medianoche #18706, Ratio Genius Wizard, Cerebral Safe Word and Winter Halo, 4 Noses Coconut Barrel Aged Stout, Westbound & Down Vanilla Absence, Copper Kettle Mocha Snowed In, Firestone Walker Mole Merkin, Strange Gingerbread Man, Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper, Brouwerij Huyghe Barrel Aged Delirium Noel, Southern Tier Old Man Winter, and Fremont Chocolate Vanilla Maple Dark Star.
Westbound & Down Brewing is thrilled to announce its first official can release, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cultural Center, 6381 Beach Street, in Denver. This is the shared barrel cellar and tasting room that Westbound shares with Amalgam Brewing. The first beer is Chicago Peaks Kölsch, a collaboration with Bierstadt Lagerhaus that boasts simple clean mouthfeel and a spicy subtle hop aroma. The second is Westbound Double IPA, the 8.8 percent GABF silver medal winner from October; "a ludicrous amount of Enigma, Galaxy and Mosaic hops pack big aromas of tangerine, blueberry, papaya, and other tropical fruits," the brewery says. And finally, there is Colorado Pale Ale, dry hopped with Mosaic, Simcoe, Centennial, and Citra hops. El Taco Veloz Food Truck will be serving up authentic Mexican street tacos and more. Cans will also be available at Westbound's brewery and pub in Idaho Springs.
Banded Oak Brewing has bottled what it calls "one of our absolute favorite beers to come out of barrels," Belgian Blonde aged in French oak pinot noir barrels for five months. "There have been many different versions of this beer but this one is very special," the brewery says. "We've previously tapped this same base beer aged in Cabernet barrels and we've done a Chardonnay version as well. We like this beer so much that we put our brewer's wife on the label. She's actually a Brazilian blonde and not Belgian but hey this is America, we're a melting pot country. It doesn't matter what's on the label as long as the beer is good and this one is delicious." Bottles of the 8.6 percent ABV beer will be released when the brewery opens at noon.
River North Brewery's last Single Cask of 2019 will be released at noon at the Washington Street taproom. "This Single Cask has been aging in Bear Creek Distillery barrels and is our American Imperial Stout, Mr. Sandman," the brewery says.
Ursula Brewing in Aurora will once again release The Sacred Fire, its 12 percent ABV Scottish-style Wee Heavy, in honor of the winter solstice. "As most know, this is the party and the beer when we do the 'hot poker' treatment while standing around fires and celebrating the winter solstice," the brewery says. This beer will be on draft and in a limited number of 375ml bottles.
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Wednesday, December 25
Alpine Dog Brewing is open every year on Christmas, and it hosts its 6th Annual Christmas Day Party from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The event is quiet popular in the neighborhood and with beer-loving folks who need some sudsy company on Christmas Day. This time around, the brewery will tap three beers, Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter with Banana, Lactose, Chocolate, and Coffee; Bourbon Barrel English Style Old Ale; and German Style Schwarz Bier. There will also be music from The One and Only John Ham from 1 to 3 p.m. and cookie decorating.
Home alone? Not to fear. Bierstadt Lagerhaus and the Rackhouse Pub will open up the Beer Hall at 5 p.m. for some games, music, movies on the big screen, and most importantly some solid holiday beer drinking. "Food and beverage options will be slightly limited in the Beer Hall, but the fun will be unlimited," the brewery says. "Bring some holiday cookies or a quality nut medley; tip the bartender in leftover ham; wear your new socks." There will also be a Giant Beer Pong tourney at 8 p.m.
Burns Family Artisan Ales opens from 5 to 10 p.m. for a family day potluck. Bring a dish to share, and spread the joy and get 25 percent off your tab. "We'll sneak peek something amazing, but you will just have to be here with your best 'I was good all year' behavior to find out," the brewery says. All present get presents, and there will be HoHoHoliday tunes with Jeremiah Shore at 7:30 p.m.
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