Beer Man

The ten biggest Colorado beer stories of the year

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10) Colorado Native A.C. Golden Brewing, which was started in 2008 as a brand incubator for Coors, turned out its first year-round beer in May. The small-batch Colorado Native uses 99 percent Colorado products and is only sold in Colorado. The beer heralded the beginning of a renewed effort by Coors to make inroads into the craft-beer market, but it also reminded independently owned breweries (and perhaps guilted them a bit) that consumers are interested in drinking beer made with locally produced ingredients. 9) Avery SourFest In February, Avery Brewing held a festival dedicated to one of the most difficult beer styles -- to brew and to drink -- out there: sours. But the event sold out quickly and may have been one of the most buzzed-about festivals of the year, in part because Colorado brewers embraced the style wholeheartedly in 2010. And while it seems like there's a new beer fest almost every day in Colorado, this one stood out. Avery has scheduled its second SourFest for April 2011. 8) Beer Bloggers Conference In October, more than 100 beer bloggers from around the nation descended on Boulder for the first-ever Beer Bloggers Conference. The get-together produced a lot of drinking, but it also showed the power that beer bloggers have on influencing the ever-growing craft-beer market. Several major breweries attended or sent representatives. 7) Denver Beer Fest The Great American Beer Festival took place in September, bringing 50,000 people and more than 2,000 kinds of beer to the Mile High City. But the bigger story was the hundreds of events that took place as part of the second annual Denver Beer Fest -- ten days of sudsy fun that celebrated all the glories of hops, malt and yeast. Whether it was beer ice cream, beer burlesque or beer-pairing dinners, the city put on a show that attracted tens of thousands of beer tourists and made it the center of the beer world. 6) Burning Can Burning Can was a small June festival, attended only by local brewers, but the inaugural event -- hosted by Oskar Blues -- heralded something larger: the increasing market for canned microbrews. More than a dozen Colorado brewers are canning some or all of their beers now and making plans to add new beers to their canned lineups. Others are looking to start canning for the first time in 2011, especially now that out-of-state companies that can their beers -- like Maui Brewing, Tallgrass Brewing and Big Sky Brewing -- are forcing their way onto liquor store shelves here.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes