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In a fast-moving stream of craft breweries in Colorado, Good River Beer (GRB) always seems to be swimming upstream. When the brewery launched in the Denver market in April 2015, it jumped in feet-first by focusing on a keg-only distribution model—a novel approach at a time when many breweries were scaling back distribution to focus on taproom sales. Instead of taking on outside investors, founders Eric Zarkovich, Adam Odoski, and Preston Hartman self-funded their dream, combining their award-winning home-brewing skills (Hartman won the 2014 Front Range Home Brewer of the Year award as well as two medals for “Pro-Am” (professional-amateur) beer entries at the Great American Beer Festival). and business savvy to get their project off the ground. And while most new breweries on the scene were hoarding their earnings to curb debt, Good River Beer made a commitment to donate two percent of its gross profits to river conservation efforts. Last month, the brewery officially launched its own non-profit, called “2% to Rivers,” to do just that.
“I believe that every for-profit should be involved in some sort of conservation effort—some sort of movement that they really believe in,” says Odoski, who was inspired to create Good River Beer after meeting Hartman on a nine-day river trip in Utah. A passion for whitewater kayaking, craft beer, and do-goodery is at the core of the trios’ business.
While committing a portion of its profits to benefit organizations like American Whitewater and the Colorado Water Trust comes with challenges, the team at Good River Beer vows to stay the course.“The meaning behind what we’re doing far outweighs the challenges,” Odoski notes. While GRB currently relies on contract breweries like Denver’s Sleeping Giant to brew its bold Class V Colorado Style IPA and Gunny German Black Lager, Odoski and his team have plans to open a tasting room in the near future.
Supporting Good River Beer’s conservation efforts is easy. Coloradans can pick up 12-ounce six-pack cans of the brewery’s American Authentic Pilsner and Class V Colorado IPA and 750 ml bottles of Fu Fighter—a 8.9 percent ABV Belgian Golden Ale—at nearly 400 accounts throughout the Denver metro area.
Bonus: To boost fundraising efforts, the brewery also throws a handful of events each month, including educational opportunities, pint nights, and beer dinners. Check out Good River Beer’s Facebook page for info on upcoming happenings.