Frontier, the homegrown airline that left and came back again, wants to strengthen its ties to Colorado in a way that is sure to endear it this state's residents: craft beer.
Frontier just kicked off the Choose Your Brew Facebook contest, asking people to vote on which of four beers they'd like the airline to serve on board: Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues; Upslope Pale Ale; Crabtree Brewing's Great American Beer Festival award-winning Oatmeal Stout; or Colorado Native, a Colorado-only lager produced by MillerCoors subsidiary AC Golden Brewing.
All four are canned products, which are lighter and less breakable than glass; they are also easier for angry flight attendants to abscond with -- but that is another story.
The winner of the contest will help people wash down their peanuts for at least a month on flights in and out of Ddenver International Airport, says Jeff Crabtree, the founder of Greeley's Crabtree Brewing, which is the strangest pick among the four contestants.
"[A Frontier employee] reached out to us in February and asked if we would be interested in supplying Frontier Airlines with canned beer. I thought it was a joke," Crabtree says. "But we opened some serious dialogue. Why he picked us, I don't know." (Frontier Airlines didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. When it does, we'll update this post.)
Crabtree only began canning beer late last year and currently sells two of its brews -- the oatmeal stout and Eclipse Black IPA -- in sixteen-ounce cans. Oskar Blues, meanwhile, is the second-largest brewer in the state, while Upslope is a buzz brewer with a lot of Boulder cachet. Colorado Native, of course, is a Coors-related product.
Once the winner is decided, Frontier will start serving the beer in June and become one of the first -- if not the very first -- major airline to serve a craft beer in flight.
"It's great," Crabtree says. "People know Colorado for craft beer, so if you have an inbound flight from Chicago to Denver, that is what people are going to want."
Of course, the oatmeal stout is sixteen ounces and 7.7 percent alcohol by volume. So "that should really get their boat floating," Crabtree points out.
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