A taste for risk: Coors speaks at Entrepreneurship Day luncheon

DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel—Pete Coors holds hops grown at Palisade Organic Hops Farm as he gives the keynote speech at the Entrepreneurship Day luncheon at Colorado Mesa University on Wednesday. Coors is a top executive in the brewey founded by his great-grandfather.

Take notes from others’ success, vote for business-friendly candidates and take risks.

That was the advice Pete Coors, vice chairman of Molson Coors Brewing Co. and chairman of Miller Coors, had for approximately 550 audience members at Wednesday’s keynote luncheon for Entrepreneurship Day at Colorado Mesa University. The eighth-annual event provided a day of workshops for business students, a business idea challenge and a keynote luncheon for students and the public in the University Center Ballroom.

Coors, 66, is the great-grandson of Adolph Coors, the entrepreneur who started the family brewing business. The family has grown through the years because of innovation and risk-taking, Coors said.

Heat, age and light, “the three enemies of beer,” inspired the company to brew and package beer cold. The change meant a 30 percent savings on heat energy costs for pasteurization. The company also has incorporated packaging that visually indicates the temperature of the product and used aluminum cans instead of tin to have lighter-weight cans.

Coors joked during Wednesday’s presentation craft brewers thriving across Colorado are “stealing our business.” Although he said he doesn’t envision any craft brewers getting to be quite the size of Molson Coors, Coors said the company introduced Colorado Native as a response to craft brewing. The beer is made from Colorado products and sold only in the state.

He added the Coors company helped some craft brewers get their start, including Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Wynkoop Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewery. A number of workshops focused on the beer and alcohol industry at this year’s Entrepreneurship Day, so Coors offered optimistic feedback to potential brewers in the crowd.

“This is what can happen if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and stick to it,” he said.

Coors Banquet was known as “America’s Fine Light Beer” until the introduction of Miller Lite. Looking at a list of Miller and Anheuser-Busch varieties on a scale of light to robust, Coors decided the brand needed to branch out. Now the company has 138 different brands, including line extensions.

Innovation is part of Coors’ plan for the future as well. Coors said he is “this close” to introducing a gluten-free Coors product that incorporates malting rice to keep the protein composite out of the beer-making process.

In the near-term, Coors said following Wednesday’s keynote, the drought of 2012 and another likely water-shy year haven’t changed Coors operations, although it takes three and a half barrels of water to make one barrel of beer.

“We are in pretty good shape. We’re in better shape this year than last year,” he said.


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