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Brew Crew

A letter from the editor of our September 2016 issue.

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The idea for associate editor Chris Outcalt’s “The Craft Conundrum” came about like so many good ideas do: over a beer. At a bar one evening with some of his fellow 5280 staffers, Outcalt wondered aloud about whether the wild growth of small craft breweries in Denver was sustainable. It was a reasonable question—from our downtown office, we had seen small breweries in LoDo, Ballpark, and RiNo open faster than you could say, “Hey, bartender!” Outcalt’s idea wasn’t to focus on entrenched beer makers like Great Divide Brewing Co. or Breckenridge Brewery; instead, he would look at newcomers in a potentially saturated—and increasingly complicated—landscape. What does it take to actually open small craft breweries? Outcalt asked himself. And once they’re up and running, are they able to compete with established small craft brewers as well as the likes of Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, who have been working their ways into the craft business? The resulting story not only traces the winding path two guys with a passion for beer took to open a brewery in Denver in 2016, but it also lays out the history of the craft beer movement in America—an industry that has grown to hold more than 12 percent of the market in the United States and which is a huge part of the image the Mile High City projects to the world. Craft beer, it seems, is still on an upward trend. But if Outcalt’s incisive narrative makes anything clear about the world of craft beer, it’s that the road to producing and distributing small-batch suds may only get bumpier in the years ahead.

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