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Get ready, Southern California: Great Divide beers are on their way

Great Divide Brewing will challenge some of the big boys of bold brewing this week as it takes its Yeti Imperial Stout, Titan IPA, Hercules Double IPA, Smoked Baltic Porter and other beers to Southern California bars and stores for the first time.

The Denver brewery recently added several fermentation tanks and other equipment to keep up with demand, growing its brewing capacity by 65 percent. In the meantime, 2010 beer sales have shot up 70 percent over this time last year.

"We've been ramping up," says founder Brian Dunn, who adds that the brewery needed the extra capacity in order to sell beer somewhere like Southern California.

As its distributor there, Great Divide hired Stone Brewing Company, which is also known for making bold beers. But the breweries won't always be in direct competition. "We know those guys, and we've talked about it for a while. We knew that if we ever went to California, we'd want them to sell our beer," Dunn says. "Stone doesn't consider us to be competition. We are all just driving the craft-beer market."

Stone recommended that Great Divide only sell its bigger beers in Southern California. "They know what sells, and they wanted to see our hoppier and more assertive styles," Dunn explains. "So our lighter ones aren't going out there."

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