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In 1979, there were 43 breweries in America (right now, there are more than 400 in Colorado alone), and Boulder Beer Company was one of them. In fact, it was Colorado’s first microbrewery, a pioneer in the state’s craft beer revolution. But as of January 18, it will cease operations.
The news isn’t totally unexpected, as the company foreshadowed a gloomier future at the end of last year. In October, Boulder Beer announced it would downsize and discontinue national distribution; in December, it made a deal with Denver-based contract brewery Sleeping Giant Brewing Company to continue brewing and distributing its iconic beers, like Buffalo Gold and Mojo IPA. That agreement will continue, so Boulder Beer’s six core brands will live on at bars and restaurants, as well as on store shelves.
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The decision to shut down the Boulder brewpub was prompted by the opportunity to sell the 19,000-square-foot production facility on Wilderness Place, just west of Foothills Parkway, according to a press release sent out by the company.
“After closing the manufacturing side of our business and then creating a relationship with Sleeping Giant, we feel it is now in our best interest to pursue this opportunity to sell the building,” Boulder Beer owner Gina Day said.
The only details Boulder Beer will reveal about the building’s potential buyer is that it’s a local, non-beer brewing company. All 30 Boulder Beer employees have been offered jobs at the brewery’s sister company, Concept Restaurants (Day’s husband Frank is the founder). Concept Restaurants is opening Su Taco on Larimer Street later this month, and it also operates the Hotel Boulderado, Stout Street Social, and the Table Mountain Inn.
Boulder Beer’s influence on the craft brewers who came after (so, pretty much everyone) has been immense, and many on the beer scene were saddened by the news.
“Hazed & Infused will forever be one of my personal favorite beers. It was the beer that I always purchased. Years before that, it was Buffalo Gold,” says Seedstock Brewery owner Rob Abbott. “Thank you, Boulder Beer Company—you helped change the face and taste of beer in Colorado and beyond.”
“It’s always tough watching an industry pioneer slip away, and Boulder Beer was definitely that. Even though their beer won’t completely be gone, losing its brewpub and many brands they produced is a real bummer,” says Hops & Pie co-owner and chef Drew Watson. “There are so many fond memories on the outdoor patio for many Coloradans that it’s not only the beer, but the venue that will be missed.”
A representative for the company says that the Boulder Beer Taproom at Denver International Airport will remain open until the airport remodel and Delaware North projects move forward, and the company will host an unofficial last day party at the brewpub on January 18.
Boulder Beer’s closure is latest seismic change in the Colorado beer industry, with Molson Coors announcing it would close its Denver corporate office and New Belgium Brewing Company selling to an international conglomerate.