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Posted: August 13, 2014

Suds ahead: Brewers showcase their best

Ed Fest celebrates craft beer culture

Gigi Sukin

There’s no shortage of craft breweries or festivals to showcase their countless varieties. And it's no wonder.

According to the University of Colorado-Boulder and the Colorado Brewers Guild, Colorado is one of the leading states for the number of breweries, per capita production and economic impact,  with 232 craft brewers of last year and 109 percent growth in the number of breweries since 2009.  In 2013, craft brewers recorded a total economic impact of $826 million, and direct value added of $249 million.

This weekend, the fourth annual Alpine Insurance Ed Fest celebrates international craft beer culture, hosted by Crazy Mountain Brewery in Edwards with 60 microbrews from around the world for attendees’ tasting pleasure.

We talked with a few of the lesser newer and under-the-radar brewers to get a sip of the sudsy action.

ColoradoBiz: What was your spark of inspiration for your brew?

Storm Peak Brewing: “We started brewing in our garage and loved having people over for brew days and beer tastings. The vibe when there’s a crowd of people enjoying a craft product is so much different than anything you can find at a bar and/or restaurant. We felt like we needed to be part of the brewing community and bring that type of atmosphere to Steamboat, so we gathered the family and went on brew tours. We went to ass many breweries as we could to show everyone our vision and how much fun we could have. This may be a business, but we see it as more of a way to make a living hanging out with friends and making new ones.” — Wyatt Patterson, brewer, Storm Peak Brewing Co.

CB: Is there any fear of market saturation in the craft brewery space?

Centennial Beer Co.: “I wouldn’t call it fear, but there certainly is a lot of competition. We think it is about making good beer and keeping things simple; thus our motto: Simple – Good – Beer. There are plenty of beer drinkers out there that have not yet discovered craft beer or aren’t willing to switch over from macro brews. We believe that our approach to lighter, easier drinking craft beers will help the macro beer drinkers come over to the craft side.” — Chad Duval, vice president

Storm Peak Brewing: “In the early 1900s, there was a craft brewery for every neighborhood and prohibition killed that entrepreneurial spirit. It’s back alive again and I think we’ve only seen the beginning of what craft beer can do.” —Wyatt Patterson, brewer

Asher Beer Co.: “There’s enough beer drinkers to go around.” — Andrew Ferguson, general manager

CB: Why has craft brewing (on the maker and consumer side) become so popular from your perspective and why is Colorado a hub for the action?

Storm Peak Brewing: “I think the reason craft brewing in Colorado is so successful is the state’s adventurous spirit. When you spend your mornings on a river or a mountainside, the last thing you want is a born, run of the mill beer to wash it all down. It’s all snowballed from there and become something of a norm for people. I can’t think of anyone who seeks out a bar because of their selection of American lagers. The State has also done a wonderful job in making it easy for small operations like us to be successful.” — Wyatt Patterson, brewer

Kokopelli Beer Co. “We feel that craft brewing has taken off in Colorado these past years actually due to the presence of Coors and Anheuser Busch, who also once started as a small local brewery. Employees, family members and riends of these companies probably were one of the first to get into home brewing than taking their dreams to the next level of providing their product to the public.” —Christine Wares, owner.

CB: What does participating in an event like Ed Fest do for your business?

“Festivals really help us now that we’re distributing. Through the face-time with potential customers, they get to see how passionate we are about this and you can’t find that or get that anywhere else. The people who comes to festivals are exactly who you want to be talking to. They want to try new breweries they’ve never tried before. And with us being on the Western Slope, its been hard to break into the Front Range … This year we’re attending this year all over Colorado.” — Katlin Birdsall, marketing coordinator

“As small as we are and given our infancy we really have to pick and choose our battles wisely. I sat down with Steve Kurowski of the Colorado Brewer's Guild when we were just a few months shy of opening and he said festivals can really put a strain on new breweries. We're just now realizing how much he was right. We've chosen just a few festivals to be a part of and are already being stretched thin on production. Ed Fest is the only festival (with the exception of GABF) that we're doing outside of the Yampa Valley. We feel for now our efforts are best spent close to home, growing a local fan base and being able to communicate via our product with people who can visit us in the taproom. Ed Fest was a great way for us to bring our product to a nearby mountain town where people may be willing to make the small drive for the day to visit our wonderful town. It's also a great way for us to network with other brewers and breweries ... The biggest con would be that on a grand scale we're not exactly converting new customers over to craft beer, but it certainly isn't hurting.” — Wyatt Patterson, brewer, Storm Peak Brewing Co.

Other participating brewers:  

  • Wynkoop Brewing Co.
  • Oskar Blues Brewery
  • Great Divide Brewing Co.
  • Crazy Mountain Brewery
  • Odell Brewing Company
  • Bristol Brewing Company
  • Colorado Cider Company
  • Palisade Brewing Company
  • Green Flash Brewing Company
  • Two Rascals Brewing Company
  • Asher Brewing
  • Fort Collins Brewery
  • Rockyard Brewing Company
  • Pug Ryans Brewery
  • Eddyline Brewing
  • Tivoli Brewing Co.
  • Boulder Beer
  • AC Golden Brewing Company
  • Alaskan Brewing Company
  • San Luis Valley Brewing
  • Epic Brewing Company
  • Breckenridge Brewery
  • Twisted Pine Brewery
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
  • Bonfire Brewing
  • Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
  • Left Hand Brewing
  • Telluride Brewing Company
  • Boulevard Brewing Company
  • Moab Brewery
  • Arvada Beer Company
  • Storm Peak Brewing Company
  • Upslope Brewing Company
  • Artisanal Imports
  • and more!

Gigi Sukin is an Associate Editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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