Beer Man

Our Ten Most Popular Beer and Brewery Stories of 2019

New Belgium will stay in Colorado, but its corporate headquarters are now in Japan.
New Belgium will stay in Colorado, but its corporate headquarters are now in Japan. New Belgium Brewing
From new styles and trends to hard seltzer and hard times, there was plenty of fascinating news from the world of beer and craft beer in 2019. But it was Colorado brewery closures and brewery downsizing, along with big moves and big lawsuits, that got the most attention from readers. Welcome to the jungle. Here are our ten most popular beer stories from the past twelve months:

Coors no longer calls Colorado its headquarters. - MOLSON COORS BEVERAGE COMPANY
Coors no longer calls Colorado its headquarters.
Molson Coors Beverage Company
"Coors Family Silent About Chicago Move, but You Can Bet They're Not Happy"
After 146 years in Colorado, Coors announced in late October that it would be moving its headquarters out of state, to Chicago. Although the massive Golden plant will stay (and possibly be remodeled), the news, from Coors's parent company, Molson Coors, shocked Colorado. Even more telling: No one from the Coors family spoke publicly about the change, including the fact that Pete Coors would be stepping down from his day-to-day role with the company. So, how is the family taking the news? For us, their silence speaks volumes.

click to enlarge Seltzer sparkled last year. - ELVTD AT 5280
Seltzer sparkled last year.
ELVTD at 5280
"Colorado's First Seltzery Replaces Grand Lake Brewing in Arvada"
Hard seltzer was big in 2019. So big that even your grandma and your little sister know what a White Claw is. But local seltzers caught on as well. In Olde Town Arvada, the owners of Grand Lake Brewing decided to retire, turning over their space to sons Hunter and Warren Wood, who opened what may have been Colorado's first dedicated seltzery, ELVTD at 5280, serving a wide variety of flavors.

click to enlarge Boulder Beer wil focus on its brewpub. - BOULDER BEER COMPANY
Boulder Beer wil focus on its brewpub.
Boulder Beer Company
"Historic Boulder Beer Will Stop Canning, Downsize, Lay Off Twenty Staffers"
Colorado's oldest craft brewery has gone through many ups and downs since it was founded in a goat shed outside of Boulder in 1979, but the latest one was particularly heart-wrenching. In October, the brewery said that because of tough competition, it would have to lay off a third of its staff and stop packaging and distributing all of its beers, including hits and classics like Shake Chocolate Porter, Buffalo Gold and Mojo IPA. About a month later, the brewery was able to work out a deal with Sleeping Giant Brewing, which will now brew and package those beers, but it's still hard to watch the brewery and its staffers go through tough times.

Fate Brewing closed in May. - FATE BREWING
Fate Brewing closed in May.
Fate Brewing
"Colorado Brewery Closures Are Still Rare, Despite May Carnage"
More breweries closed nationwide in 2019 than in any other year, but many, many more opened. Colorado also saw its share of closures in a highly competitive market, but the reality is that two of three high-profile ones that all took place at the end of May — Fate Brewing in Boulder and Ironworks Brewery & Pub in Lakewood — had more to do with their own specific financial issues than they did with brewery competition in general.

click to enlarge After changes at the top, Upslope Brewing is among Colorado's ten largest craft breweries. - UPSLOPE BREWING
After changes at the top, Upslope Brewing is among Colorado's ten largest craft breweries.
Upslope Brewing
"Colorado's Ten Biggest Breweries — Now That Coors and New Belgium Are Gone"
Colorado suffered a double whammy in the fall. First, Coors announced that it would close its Denver headquarters and lay off most of its employees there. Then New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins said it would be purchased by Japanese conglomerate Kirin. The result: Neither one of these longtime Colorado companies takes its orders from Coloradans anymore. But there are plenty of smaller independent breweries on the rise, including Left Hand, Dry Dock, Upslope, Ska and Denver Beer Co.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes