Craft beer market brewing in region

There was somewhat of a family reunion Sunday afternoon on the patio of Kannah Creek Brewing Co., 1960 N. 12th St.

Owners, managers and brewers from up to 15 western Colorado breweries gathered in lukewarm sunshine to celebrate the close of Colorado Craft Beer Week with the first Western Colorado Craft Beer Celebration. For $10, the public could have a taste of the ales, IPAs, stouts and other special or reserve brews that each brewer brought to the gathering. Proceeds will be donated to the Colorado Brewer’s Guild.

Kannah Creek brewer Matt Simpson said the celebration was the start of a spring and summer season that will be filled with craft beer-related events across Colorado. It also gave the close-knit network of area brewers a chance to congregate for the first time since Oktoberfest, he said.

“All the craft brewers work together. We’re brothers in brewing,” Simpson said. “We’re a big extended family.”

Tom Hennessy, owner of Colorado Boy Pub and Brewery in Ridgway and former owner of Palisade Brewery, said he knows all the brewers invited from a dozen western Colorado towns for Sunday’s celebration. Colorado brewers aren’t afraid to share recipes, tips and information, he said.

While most Colorado brewers reside on the Front Range, which is the largest craft-brewing market in the nation, the number of Western Slope breweries is growing. Hennessy said towns on the Western Slope may be smaller, but the product has drawn enough fans to make business sustainable.

“Our brewery is in a town of 800 people and we do great,” he said.

The more people are introduced to craft beers, the more successful Colorado brewers have become, according to Phil Freismuth, manager of Horsefly Brewing Co. in Montrose. Freismuth said people sometimes come to his establishment asking for mainstream beers, which he doesn’t have. So he starts them off with a lighter beer, usually a blonde ale, to ease them into craft brews.

“Within four months they’re trying stouts and the hoppier beers,” he said.


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