Let's face it: 2020 has been a bad year for beer in Boulder so far. Boulder Beer Company, which kicked off Colorado's craft-beer revolution way back in 1979, closed the doors to its pub in January and shifted production to the Sleeping Giant contract brewery in Denver; Wild Woods Brewing, a much-loved family-owned brewery shuttered the same month; the historic Colorado Liquor Mart closed after 53 years; and Concept Restaurants sold the former Walnut Brewery space after two failed attempts to revive a restaurant there.
And it's not like 2019 was much better. Last year saw the bankruptcy and eventual closure of Fate Brewing; Upslope Brewing's decision to not open a long-planned third brewery; Cellar West Artisan Ale's move out of town to Lafayette; and Avery Brewing's majority sale to Spanish conglomerate Mahou San Miguel (which could be good news or bad news, depending on how you feel about it).
Come to think of it, Boulder's craft-beer scene, which was one of the oldest, most vibrant brewing communities in the state, has been flat for quite some time as high rent and little industrial space have combined to prevent new breweries from opening. In fact, between January 2017 and now, only five breweries have turned on the lights in town: Gunbarrel Brewing and Beyond the Mountain Brewing, both in 2017; an outlet of the Post Brewing in 2018; and Adamant Brewing & Blending and Unnamed Brewing, both in 2019. (Denver, Colorado and Fort Collins, meanwhile, have played host to a couple dozen new beer makers in that same time period.)
But it looks like a triple whammy of spring openings is about to pour new life into the city.
On Saturday, March 14, Uhl's Brewing will open inside the former Wild Woods space at 5460 Conestoga Court, with fourteen beers on tap and three in cans. Founded by Aaron Uhl, the brewery has been making its beer at other breweries for the past year. Uhl's specializes in barrel-aged beers, adjunct-heavy stouts, hazy IPAs, overly fruited sours, vegan-friendly shakes and ales, and pastry sours.
Two days later, on Monday, March 16, Colorado mainstay Ska Brewing will open its highly anticipated Ska Street Brewstillery in the former Fate space, at 1600 38th Street. This combined project with Palisade’s Peach Street Distillers (which has joint ownership with Ska) will include a Caribbean-themed restaurant, a ten-barrel brewing system, a 450-liter still, thirty taps and a mixology program. (A grand opening will take place on April 9.)
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Then in April, 4 Noses Brewing plans to unveil its new concept, the Wild Provisions Beer Project/Oak Addendum, an 8,000-square-foot barrel house and taproom at 2205 Central Avenue. It will specialize in fermenting and aging beer in wooden barrels, vertical foeders and puncheons. The taproom won't have its own brewhouse, at least at first, but wort will be fermented and aged there.
"Boulder is still a great beer town," says 4 Noses co-owner and head brewer Tommy Bibliowicz. "Like every other part of our state, the market is constantly evolving, which creates some unique challenges.
"We believe our concept at Wild Provisions Beer Project is fairly unique and will give our team an incredible new avenue for innovation. We are really excited to work with both new and established breweries in the area to continue building and expanding on the existing Boulder craft-beer culture," he adds.