Winter Park Resort will celebrate a milestone anniversary this season, and as usual it will raise a toast with a pint of Mary Jane Ale. The eighty-year-old winter playground has been commissioning the special beer since 1994, when it asked the then-fledgling Rock Bottom Brewery to make the first batch.
In the interim, the beer has changed styles — and changed hands, bouncing to the Coors-owned Sandlot brewery at Coors Field and then to New Belgium Brewing in 2014. This year, Mary Jane Ale has a brand-new brewer, though, as Boulder's Upslope Brewing takes over the contract for Winter Park.
Resort spokesperson Jen Miller says it was an easy decision. "The contract between New Belgium and Winter Park was up, so Winter Park was on the hunt for a new partner," she explains. "Winter Park guests have come to expect a wide variety of craft beers, and the Upslope and Winter Park brands are very much aligned in terms of outdoor mountain adventure. It was an obvious choice to partner up."
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Upslope, founded in 2010, leans heavily on outdoor lifestyle branding for its beers, often teaming up with retail and entertainment partners on events and sponsorships.
The beer itself, which is a tradition for Winter Park and Mary Jane regulars, was a Scottish-style red ale when the Sandlot brewed it, transitioning to a very light pale ale when New Belgium took over.
For Upslope's version, Miller says, the resort and the brewery collaborated on an updated recipe that would be both refreshing and approachable for skiers and snowboarders coming off the mountain. The result was a citrusy pale ale brewed with Colorado-grown malted barley and Azacca and Cascade hops.
Winter Park first tapped the new Mary Jane Ale on all of its on-mountain and resort-owned taps on Thanksgiving.