Beer Man

Great Divide Brewing Rolls Out a New Look for a New Era

Great Divide's new look.
Great Divide's new look. Great Divide Brewing
When Great Divide announced in early 2021 that it would have to let go of its plans to open a big new brewing campus and instead scale back its operations, founder Brian Dunn made it a point to note that the decision would give the brewery the financial capacity to remain "fiercely independent."

The comment was in reference to several of Colorado's other older breweries — New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Avery and Breckenridge — which had sold themselves to larger companies, in part so that they could either pay off the costs of rapid expansion or position themselves for future growth in a competitive market.

Now that idea — and the words "Independent Then/Independent Now" — have made it onto Great Divide's cans as part of a major redesign of the brewery's labels, logos and overall look. It's the biggest change to the brewery's imagery since it started canning its beers in 2015.

click to enlarge The new cans feature the words "Independent Then/Independent Now" above the label. - GREAT DIVIDE BREWING
The new cans feature the words "Independent Then/Independent Now" above the label.
Great Divide Brewing
The new packaging on its 12-ounce cans keeps the familiar icons that Great Divide uses, including a yeti, a titan and a farm worker, but cleans up the style somewhat. "Six-packs have already started rolling off the canning line and craft beer enthusiasts can expect to see the entire Great Divide portfolio in refreshed packaging over the next several months," the brewery says in a statement.

In a "crowded playing field," the goal, says brewery marketing manager Matt Sandy, is to "make sure our packages were visually aligned and called out the strong Great Divide brand on store shelves."

The Independent Then/Independent Now slogan appears above the labels on the aluminum itself and is "something we are extremely proud of and something that defines Great Divide," he adds. "Some consumers seek out independence, and while others are less aware, it resonates with Great Divide much like the Brewers Association and their Seek the Seal campaign."

The brand refresh comes on the heels of Great Divide having consolidated all of its brewing, cellaring and packaging operations back at its original location on Arapahoe Street — where the brewery was founded in 1994. As part of that move, Great Divide sold the packaging lines it had used in its warehouse on Brighton Boulevard and bought a new KHS canning line that can fill 210 cans per minute.
Great Divide was founded on Arapahoe Street in 1994. - GREAT DIVIDE BREWING
Great Divide was founded on Arapahoe Street in 1994.
Great Divide Brewing
After riding a growth wave in the early 2010s, Great Divide bought five acres of land along Brighton Boulevard and broke ground in 2015 on what was supposed to be a $38 million brewing and packaging campus, with a restaurant, taproom and beer garden. But the craft beer industry hit a wall that same year, and many mid-sized breweries experienced significant sales declines; Great Divide was one of the hardest hit as its production plummeted from more than 40,000 barrels a year to under 30,000.

The company was able to right its ship over the next few years, however, becoming smaller and more efficient, changing its beer lineup and selling one half of the land it had purchased in 2019 and the other half in 2021. Although the pandemic didn't help matters, Great Divide is now on pace to brew about 30,000 barrels in 2022, up from 28,000 in 2019, the year before the pandemic began.

The Barrel Bar, which is Great Divide's secondary taproom, will remain open at 1812 35th Street (at the corner of Brighton Boulevard), even as a developer plans to build condos or apartments next door.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes