Going back to at least the time of this year's Craft Brewers Conference in April, vocal dissent has surfaced within the Colorado Brewer's Guild. According to one attendee of the Philly conference, who wished to remain unnamed so as to not piss off others, there were heated meetings amongst the Colorado contingent about the direction CBG was headed, and specifically about its leadership.
How CBG was participating (or not) in the battle against various ballot initiatives that threatened to alter the craft beer retail marketplace was of particular concern, and differing camps had different opinions. The Guild board decided to put executive director John Carlson's position up for review, make it a full-time instead of part-time job, and would interview new potential directors - including Carlson - as one step in changing the focus and direction of CBG.
Carlson, who has been executive director of the Guild since forever, and other CBG members were actively involved in the grocery store licensing issues, and the general consensus was that keeping laws the same and keeping beer and wine out of grocery stores was the best plan to maintain Colorado's place as The State of Craft Beer.
But not all CBG members agreed - while some would be left off grocery store shelves, some saw obviously great potential in selling product to grocers. When SB 16-197 came along at the very end of the legislative calendar in late April, there were different ideas as to handling the complicated legislative give-and-take. This was not unexpected, as the Guild is made up of a very diverse group of members. We're talking around 220+ brewing operations, with 220+ egos, 220+ points of view and 220+ opinions.
What's amazing is that CBG has lasted for 20 years as a viable, valuable part of Colorado's craft beer scene, and that it has grown into one of the most active brewing trade organizations in the US. Before last Friday's letter, the Guild's future seemed to be looking up. Carlson had been selected amongst all other candidates to be the new full-time director, had quit his day job and was looking forward to doing more good work for the Colorado Brewers Guild.
"This has been draining. I'm disappointed to say the least" said Carlson by phone about the decision of some members to leave CBG and form a new group. As to the desires of those who are forming the new Colorado Craft Beer group, Carlson said "We've been really blessed for 20 years, and there've been different points of view from different brewers. I wish we could have scratched everybody's itch, but it's a business decision, and now a new direction for the Guild".
Carlson is in a bit of limbo, as he has not officially started work as the old Guild's new executive director, and this defection of 14 major Guild members to form a new rival group may drastically alter the future trajectory of CBG and with it the Colorado beer scene. With over 360 brewing operations open for business in Colorado (not all are CBG members) and another 65+ in planning, there's probably room for more than one trade group that can represent the diverse needs of Colorado-based brewers.
There are other brewer's groups in the works, too, including the marketing-focused members of the Southern Colorado Brewers Alliance. We just hope that they can all figure out a way to work together, and recognize that they are successful because of you, dear readers, the craft beer drinkers who buy their products and spread the good word. We'll keep you posted on the progress of the new Colorado Craft Beer organization, and will continue to support CBG as it promotes craft brewing in The State of Craft Beer.
For all our sakes: support your local craft producer, and support your favorite retail liquor store. And if you see John Carlson, buy him beer. He could use it.
Colorado Brewers Guild Letter In Response to 14 Members Announcing Departure From CBG
June 11, 2016
Dear Brewery Members,
We are disappointed some of our members have elected to establish another organization as an alternate voice for the Colorado brewer. With the explosive growth of craft beer and the current legislative and regulatory issues before us, now is not the time to diminish our efforts but to strengthen them. Doing otherwise will result in less than optimal results. Multiple trade associations for Colorado craft beer will only confuse legislators and regulators, especially if they have different or competing asks. There is strength in numbers and we have the numbers. A strengthened Guild is the best way to remain an effective force in the industry.
Success - we have had many successes and are building momentum including more transparency, accountability, member out-reach, and additional communication. We have a demonstrated track record of success on legislative and regulatory matters including spent brewers grains, tasting room licensure, state health department inspections, strong federal delegation support, state tourism grants, enhanced marketing efforts, attractive merchandise, and beer education. In addition, we provide a quick reaction force for specific member needs based on the situation at hand.
New Changes - we recently announced the selection of a full-time executive director and the implementation of a schedule of additional Guild meetings throughout the year. Staff is beginning work to make these things happen. We are evolving based on the needs and desires of the greater membership.
Guild Election - the upcoming Guild election will provide Guild members an opportunity to refresh the Board. Please vote. Working with staff, the newly elected Board will revise our strategic plan. Once that plan has buy-in from the membership it will be executed by the Director and staff. Since our membership is wide and varied some compromise may be required. We should be mindful that a vocal minority should not chart the direction of the entire organization. The Articles and By-laws can be changed regarding membership qualifications, but it requires the membership to vote. As the industry changes, we have looked to other organizations as a reference point and have before our members a question on the ballot to update our Articles and By-Laws to reflect their collective interests. Participation in the electoral process is the key to success. We have a field of ten excellent people to fill four open positions. The Director serves at the pleasure of the Board and always has. If the Board feels a change in direction is desired the Director defers to the Board.
Inclusive - the Guild has always strived to be inclusive, and we support all efforts to better support all of our brewery members. As we work with policymakers and the Liquor Enforcement Division to implement the latest legislative compromise, we look forward to learning about what other legislative agendas might be put forth, and will work together to better Colorado, the state of craft beer.
Advocacy - as our collective resources and member interest in policy and regulatory matters have increased, we have evolved. This is a continuous process and is a collective effort of engagement with multiple views culminating in the best direction for the organization as a whole.
Participation - we strive to be transparent and always value member interest in industry and Guild matters. Communicating complex matters to a wide audience is always a challenge but we know it is paramount to our mission. Every member must feel they have the opportunity to be heard and contribute regardless of their brewery size or license type. To effectively engage, we encourage our members to participate in Guild meetings, activities, committees, and the Board.
We believe in a positive, open, and participatory organization the serves the collective good of our membership. We have worked hard to promote these principles and will continue to do so. We value the input of others and want to move forward together for Colorado, the state of craft beer.
14 Colorado brewers announced that they were pulling out of the 20-year-old Colorado Brewers Guild trade and industry group. In an open letter to Colorado Brewers Guild Board of Directors, members big and small, old and new said they were leaving the CBG to form a new trade organization: Colorado Craft Beer.
While this doesn't mean nearly as much to us drinkers as our new liquor laws will, Colorado Brewers Guild members apparently are being asked to pick sides in a not-nice brew ha ha that's been fermenting for awhile. We'll have much more to report, but first, read all about it:
June 10th 2016
An Open Letter to the Colorado Brewers Guild Board of Directors
Dear Colorado Brewers Guild Board of Directors:
We are founders of and longtime advocates for both our industry and the Colorado Brewers Guild. We have spent countless hours, dollars, and resources supporting and advancing the Guild. We, the undersigned brewers, have formed Craft Beer Colorado a new, effective, and transparent state trade organization to advance the agenda of Colorado's independent craft brewers. Our new organization has been filed with the Colorado Secretary of State, we have secured funding from organizing committee members, are working with Weist Capitol, and are committed to raising additional funds as needed.
There are three core issues that lead us to this action:
1. We need legislative and regulatory leadership and vision. Historically the CBG has reacted to changes; we need a proactive agenda.
2. There has been, for many years in the CBG, a culture of information control and director behavior that is the opposite of transparent. This is not healthy for our trade association and we are no longer willing to condone this management style.
3. With the changing landscape of craft where multinational brewers are buying craft brewers and blurring the lines, our by-laws and articles of incorporation don't reflect what we believe to be membership's wishes.
We believe the CBG is broken enough that it isn't fixable. We are building a dynamic, proactive, visionary, transparent and welcoming trade association for Colorado's craft brewers and we invite you to join us.
The Guild has relied upon individual brewery members and the lobbying team for representation at the Capitol and with the Liquor Enforcement Division. We believe a healthy organization relies on its staff in collaboration with the board and members of committees to take the slings and arrows inherent in these negotiations and conversations . In addition to this, the resignation of the Guild's long time partners and lobbyists at Weist Capitol signals the end of an effective relationship with the current organization and staff .The culture of the Colorado Brewers Guild has ingrained these unhealthy patterns of behavior .
Another troubling piece of the Colorado Brewers Guild's culture is favoring single point control of all communication, a lack of transparency from staff, and unwillingness to confront difficult issues. Transparency and openness should be the hallmarks of a trade organization - they are the defining characteristics of the community of brewers at its best. Craft Beer Colorado intends to nurture these qualities among our members, leadership and staff.
We are now faced with a situation where the world's largest brewer is a voting member of the Colorado Brewers Guild. Launching Craft beer Colorado by and for Colorado's independent craft brewers allows us to establish membership criteria that align with our needs.
This letter is an invitation to independent craft brewers across the state : large and small, new and seasoned who share our desire to build a forthright, positive and decisive state trade organization. We will hold an organizational meeting in July. Please join us in this new effort to work for the common good.
Tommy Bibliowicz and Dustin Ramey, 4 Noses Brewing Company
Mike Bristol, Bristol Brewing Company
Dave Cole, Epic Brewing Company
Kevin Daly, Mountain Sun Brewing Company
Brian Dunn, Great Divide Brewing Company Grimm Brothers Brewhouse
Kim Jordan, New Belgium Brewing Company
Brad Lincoln, Funkwerks Brewing Company
Nick Nunns, Trve Brewing Company
Brian O'Connell, Renegade Brewing Company
Wynne Odell and Doug Odell, Odell Brewing Company Oskar Blues Brewing LLC
Ted Risk and Ryan Wibby, Wibby Brewing Company
Eric Wallace, Left Hand Brewing Company
Much more to come...
First Direct Evidence of a Beer-brewing Operation
- May 26, 2016 -
The New York Times put out a great article on the findings of a 5,000 year old pottery vessel. It shows that it could be the first direct evidence of a beer-brewing operation in China.
This is one exciting beer festival. The only way to get there is by train! The only way to get back is by train.
Details from their Facebook Page,
Rails & Ales combines some of their favorite things: classic rail equipment, rustic Rocky Mountain setting, live music, smoking hot BBQ and handcrafted brews from the region's best.
There's just something so special about hopping on a train with friends to the wide open space they call Fir Station-their "little piece of Heaven" custom-built for the railroad meant to highlight how nature can so perfectly complement music.
The Rails & Ales Brewfest brings together brewers and their devoted fans, a hardy group that understands the simple truth of this event-you only get here by rail and it doesn't get any better than this.
Rio Grande Scenic Railroad's most popular event sells out earlier each year. Don't miss your chance to experience Colorado's most unique brew fest.
Don't wait to buy tickets, this event sells out fast and the 9th annual Rails & Ales promises to be the best yet.
*Photo from their Facebook Page
Professional Brewers, Home Brewers, Beer Lovers & friends of all the above
- April 20, 2016 -
Join Anke and Mitch from Schnitzel Fritz Restaurant and Deli located in Colorado Springs for an opportunity of a lifetime. They are putting together a trip through the Beer Country of Bavaria. Celebrate 500 years German Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot).
~Visit large breweries, craft breweries, microbreweries & home brewers.
Compare old philosophies with the new trend of mirco or craft breweries.
~Exchange ideas, be involved, ask real questions, and go behind the scenes.
~Learn about the German Purity Law - it's only 500 years old!
~Take guided city tours or venture on your own.
~Join two short river cruises.
~Make new and lasting contacts.
~Hike in the foothills of the Alps, enjoy amazing views
~All this with regional food and of course a variety of fantastic BEER!
Join Copper Kettle Brewing Co for a huge five day celebration for their five year anniversary! They will be releasing 12 beers over the five days and have lots of music, food, beer, and fun!
Thank you for being a part of the family for this journey! Copper Kettle is excited for the next five!!
See their website for a list of events during their 5 day celebration
The Brew Hut Closed March 14 - 16 for Construction
- March 10, 2016 -
From The Brew Hut Newsletter,
The Brew Hut is CLOSED for construction Monday, March 14 through Wednesday, March 16, so stock up on supplies in advance this weekend!
They are expanding into the space next door, adding a grain room, a mill room, and a new classroom with a full kitchen for onsite brewing! Construction will be complete in April. Sorry for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
Grand Lake Brewing Co Opens and Reopens locations!
- February 26, 2016 -
There are now 2 places that you can try out Grand Lake Brewing Company's delicious brews.
Grand Lake's Yukon Street Tavern is back open in Arvada at 5610 Yukon Street. They have starters, sandwiches, calzones and pizzas to munch on. They also have their delicious beers including their Vienna Lager and Wooly Booger Nut Brown Ale on tap.
Grand Lake's 16th Street Tavern is located in Greeley at 915 16th Street. Stop in and try their Frito Pie, Focaccia Pizza or grab a sandwich. Wash it down with a Rocky Mountain Red Ale or Dopplebock Lager.
Grand Lake Brewing is all family owned. Stop in and say hi to the family at either location!
Pikes Peak Library District Offers Homebrewing Class
Oh, the things you can learn at the library: Horticulture, history, homebrewing...
To help Colorado Springs-area beer fans and wannabe brewers better understand the components, tastes and processes that go into making their favorite craft beverage, the Pikes Peak Library District will offer a class on home brewing and beer tasting, led by a professional home brewing teacher, Saturday at Library 21C.
Students will be introduced to the basic steps and equipment needed to brew at home and can familiarize themselves with the core ingredients - hops, grains, yeasts - that combine to give beer its unique flavors and characteristics. Because the proof's in the pudding, especially with suds, students then can sample a brew recently made using the same procedures and components about which they've just learned.
Basic Beer Brewing and Tasting is 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Ent Conference Center at the library, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive. Participants must be 21 and pre-register, by Friday, at ppld.org. Info: 884-9712.
Suds in the City
- February 12, 2016 -
5280, The Denver Magazine, just released a great article on some great craft beer insights, Suds in the City. The article has 10 New Denver Breweries You Need to Visit, Craft Trends, Beer-Cations and much much more.