Craft beer is an integral part of Colorado’s DNA. It’s interwoven with snowcapped summits, springtime skiing, and Denver Bronco touchdowns. Before the global pandemic, 425 independent breweries were cranking out fresh beer all across the state. Anyone could belly up to the bar and sip on some tasty suds from the biggest cities to tiny backwoods towns. But, that once robust part of the state is in trouble, and you can help.
Contrary to the storyline that circulated last year, alcohol sales in the United States were not up. According to recent reports from Nielsen and others, they are expected to finish the year down 8-10%. Nowhere was that decline in numbers more evident than in the craft beer industry. The closure of taprooms, bars, and restaurants constituted a one-two-three punch that many have yet to recover from. Thirty-three Colorado-based breweries shuttered last year, a record with many others reporting production down thirty to forty percent.
“The impact of the pandemic and changing consumer behavior on the craft beer industry in Colorado is devastating,” says Shawnee Adelson, executive director of the Colorado Brewers Guild (CBG). “The ability to sell beer in a community-style taproom was a pillar of success for many of Colorado’s breweries, and they’ve had a challenging year navigating the changing landscape.”
To help turn the tide as the country, and Colorado, slowly emerge on the other side of the shutdowns, the CBG recently announced two programs designed to bring relief to its members. The first is the Safer With Foam campaign. Launched from the Colorado Strong Fund, it is intended to encourage drinkers to show their support for their favorite local breweries. It could be buying to-go beer from them, searching out their products in stores, following them on social media, or visiting a reopened taproom following local safety guidelines.
“Buying beer to-go, following all local guidelines for social distancing and safe consumption, and purchasing gift cards and merchandise help breweries keep their staff working, provide benefits, and keep the lights on so they will be there for us when we can safely visit,” says Adelson.
The second way you can help is to head out on April 7th for the annual Colorado Pint Day. By visiting one of the 150+ breweries participating, you can score a custom printed pint glass and other swag while sipping on some suds. One buck from each glass purchased will go back to the CBG to help them out and keep their programs alive. Each year the program features a different design to highlight the beer culture in the Centennial State. This year the theme is “Catch a Pint.”
While both of these items will help out, there is one sure-fire way that consumers can assure that their favorite beer or tasting room will be there for them. That’s to focus on buying Colorado independent beers. They are the ones that are hurting. The giant multi-national breweries did fine, and the craft offshoots that they either own outright or partially are not hurting. They had a good year because they dominate grocery store shelves and have large multi-state footprints. Now more than ever buy local, the Colorado beer scene’s fabric is fraying as many more small brewers are close to collapse. For a list of local breweries participating in Pint Day, or to better understand who actually owns the beers you see on the shelves of your local store, visit the CBG website.