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The Centennial State

Colorado is another beer state whose history began with the Gold Rush. Upon the 1858 discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains, so came the brewers. Many of the brewers started off by selling their small batch beer to the working miners. The beer industry functioned this way for about a year, but shifted when Rocky Mountain Brewery opened in 1859, quickly becoming the largest brewery between St. Louis and San Francisco.

The next monumental movement in Colorado beer history occurred in 1873, when Adolph Coors entered the state with a close friend, a few thousand dollars, and a Czech Pilsner recipe.

Unfortunately, Prohibition, which began in Colorado four years earlier (1916) than the rest of the world (1920), put the Colorado craft beer industry on hold. In this period from 1916 to 1933, Colorado breweries were forced to diversify their products and enter new niches just to stay afloat during the hard times. Of course in 1933, when the ban on alcohol sales was lifted, the craft beer emergence began again.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter passed a law, making it legal for Americans to brew beer in their own homes. This home brewing must have inspired some great unique creations, because a year later on September 25, 1979, the first Colorado craft brewery, Boulder Beer Company was opened. At the time big beer companies ran the market giving Boulder Beer Company a slow start, but nevertheless, craft beer caught on in the early 90s!

In 1982, the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado was established, featuring 24 participating breweries its first year. To put into perspective the growth craft beer and this Colorado beer festival have had, in 2019 the number grew to 800 breweries in attendance.

In the late 1980s the first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing Co., and several other craft breweries began opening their doors. To list a few, there was Odell Brewing Company and New Belgium Brewing Company.

Come 1995, and the Colorado Brewers Guild was born. This organization was created to promote and protect the state of Colorado’s craft brewing industry. Ten years later, in 2005, the national advocacy known as the Brewers Association was founded in Boulder.

Many other innovations to the craft beer industry have happened in the twenty-first century. In 2002, only three years after opening, Lyons Oskar Blues Brewery pioneered the craft beer cans, in which they featured their beer, Dale’s Pale Ale. In 2018, Ceria Brewing Company released the first ever THC infused beer. And today Colorado has over 400 craft breweries.

Colorado previously had a beer law restricting the sales of full strength beer in grocery and liquor stores, however that law has since been lifted. Today, Colorado beer laws merely state that beer can be purchased from Monday to Sunday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 12 a.m., with the bar closing time being 2 a.m.

With so many of the best breweries in Colorado, it can be easier to divide them into the best breweries in Denver Colorado, and the best breweries in Colorado Springs. Some of the top Denver breweries, since there are around 150 in the city) are: The Grateful Gnome, Oasis Brewery, Odell Brewing Company, Long Table Brewhouse, Novel Strand Brewing Company, Bruz Beers, Briar Common, Great Divide Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing, Alternation Brewing Company, and Dos Luces Brewery. As for Colorado Springs, some of the best breweries are: Fossil Craft Beer Company, Rocky Mountain Brewery, Red Leg Brewing Company, Goat Patch Brewing Company, Bristol Brewing Company, Cerberus Brewing Company, and Phantom Canyon Brewing Company.

Of course so many other great breweries exist and we love featuring Colorado craft breweries in our beer club shipments, and hope you love them as well. We look forward to featuring many more for all our members to try!