Craft brewers to governor: Respect us, too

More than two dozen craft brewers from around the state, including several on the Western Slope, are asking Gov. John Hickenlooper to be more beer friendly and less oil-and-gas friendly.

The brewers, including 13 from such Western Slope places as Paonia, Telluride and Montrose, sent a letter to the former-brewer-turned governor Friday asking him to be more concerned about the environmental impacts the oil-and-gas industry has on the state and less interested in the industry itself.

Before becoming governor and mayor of Denver, Hickenlooper was one of the state’s first microbrewers, starting the Wynkoop Brewing Co. in Denver’s lower downtown in the late 1980s that later became part of a small restaurant/pub empire.

He did that, however, after he was laid off from his job as a petroleum geologist for the oil and gas industry.

The brewers say Hickenlooper has been too lenient with production companies, citing as examples the recent lawsuits his administration has filed against local communities over water and environmental ordinances they’ve enacted in recent months.

“I think there is a natural concern from brewers about the oil and gas industry since good, clean Colorado water is our most important ingredient in beer,” said Gretchen King, co-owner of Revolution Brewing in Paonia.

“We want to be known as a state of natural beauty, pristine natural resources, outdoor activities and great beer, not just a state that promotes drilling and the gas industry,” added Chip Holland, head brewer at Glenwood Canyon Brewery in Glenwood Springs. “We need to strike a balance between this type of energy development and conservation for our economy’s sake.”

The brewers have requested a face-to-face meeting with the governor to discuss the matter — over beers, of course.

Hickenlooper’s office had only just received the letter, but his press secretary, Eric Brown, said the governor would respond.

“The craft brewing industry is a great economic driver for Colorado, and we value our relationship with brewers across the state,” Brown said.


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