Beer Man

Lone Tree Brewing Company's Birthday Is a COVID-Times Microcosm

Lone Tree's anniversary beers are being offered to go in nine-packs.
Lone Tree's anniversary beers are being offered to go in nine-packs. Lone Tree Brewing
Almost every brewery in the state has celebrated one anniversary or another so far in 2020 — and very few bore any resemblance to the typical beer-soaked party.

Lone Tree Brewing is the latest to do so — it turns nine on Saturday — and its quickly-shifting plans encapsulate nearly every challenge that breweries have faced this year.

Lone Tree had hoped to host some sort of limited-capacity, socially distanced affair while tapping nine different anniversary beers that its staff had put together over the past few weeks and letting customers vote for their favorite. But then came the latest wave of restrictions on restaurants, bars and breweries on November 20, which closed indoor bars and and dining rooms and limited gatherings and group sizes.

With Lone Tree's taproom off-limits, that left the brewery's patio, but tasting room manager Mike Webster says it didn’t feel responsible to have a lot of people gathered together outside.

click to enlarge Like many breweries, Lone Tree has set up enclosed outdoor dining areas. - LONE TREE BREWING
Like many breweries, Lone Tree has set up enclosed outdoor dining areas.
Lone Tree Brewing
Not only that, but the weather has turned colder. And while many breweries, including Lone Tree, have invested over the past few weeks in heaters and enclosures, including tents, greenhouses and small igloo-like plastic structures, to protect customers against the elements, “it’s still pretty cold out there,” Webster points out. “I don’t blame people for not wanting to sit outside.”

So Webster and his staff came up with an alternate plan: Put the nine beers together in a neat package and sell them to go. But finding cans has proven more and more difficult this year because of an aluminum production capacity shortage brought on by pandemic-induced demand by people who are drinking more at home. Many breweries have scrambled to find cans or other substitute containers.

“We switched on a dime,” Webster says. “It's disappointing, but it is just something we have to do...and we knew [the restrictions] were probably coming.”

Luckily for Lone Tree, the Crowler Nation can company (a division of Oskar Blues) had eight-ounce twist-top cans available, which will allow Lone Tree to sell all of its anniversary beer to go.

The beers, along with merchandise, will be available to go on Saturday, December 5, and Sunday, December 6, at the brewery tasting room. To make the beers, Lone Tree's staff "split into teams to craft specialty nano-batches with a variety of novel ingredients," the brewery explains. The $50 package comes with Pecan Amber Ale, Midori and Pisco Sour Hybrid, New Mommy-Umami Stout, Blackberry Basil Saison, Dry Hopped Malt Liquor, Banh Mi Blonde, Hazelnut Stout, Roseberry Kolsch and 9th Anniversary Whiskey Barrel Aged Baltic Porter.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes