Beer Buzz: Denver’s Great Divide Brewing Company Grows Up

October 2011

A granddaddy of Denver’s craft brewing scene, 17-year-old Great Divide Brewing Company’s taproom has long been a favorite watering hole for locals and tourists alike. But the quaint (read: itty-bitty) space often left us feeling like sardines. Thankfully, the brewer announced last month that it would nearly double its capacity (creating space for 75 more patrons). The new 450-square-foot space officially opened last Wednesday, just in time for the Great American Beer Festival. That gives us plenty of room to sip a Titan IPA without bumping elbows with our bearded brethren on the next stool.

Below, a look back at some of Great Divide’s major milestones:

May ’94: Great Divide Brewing Company opens in a former dairy building on Arapahoe Street in what would become the Ballpark neighborhood (the Rockies moved to Coors Field a year later). The brewery is a one-person operation helmed by founder and owner Brian Dunn.

July ’94: The first beer, Arapahoe Amber, is poured for the public.

August ’94: The brewery expands its operation, adding three more tanks to the original two fermenting tanks.

September ’94: Great Divide is awarded its first medal at the Great American Beer Festival—a silver for its White Water Wheat (discontinued in 2005).

June ’96: Only two years old, Great Divide goes on to win its first international brew award at the inaugural World Beer Cup in Vail, a silver medal for its St. Bridget’s Porter (discontinued in 2010).

September ’96: The brewery begins distributing to markets outside of Colorado.

March ’07: Great Divide opens its first taproom, with space for 50 people.

September ’10: Great Divide nabs a GABF silver for its Colette Farmhouse Ale. (Since opening, the brewery has earned 17 GABF medals and five World Beer Cup awards.)

December ’10: By the end of the year, the brewery’s production was at an all-time high—putting out about 19,500 barrels worth of beer, or 65 more barrels than the year before.

August ’11: Unable to produce enough brews to keep up with much of its demand outside of Colorado, Great Divide decides to pull back from the last of 17 distributors in multiple states. 

September 28, 2011: The brewery unveils an expanded tap room. 

—Image courtesy of Great Divide