You don't need a crystal beer goblet to predict that new breweries and brewpubs will continue to launch in Boulder County in 2014, especially smaller breweries built around a tasting-room model where brewers can distribute beer directly to their customers and grow their base from there.
Last year J Wells Brewing and Sanitas Brewing opened for business in Boulder; the Kettle and Stone opened in Gunbarrel; and chef Ian Clark moved his BRU Handbuilt Ales out of his garage and into a dedicated retail space on Arapahoe that includes a full kitchen.
In the eastern part of the county, 12 Degree Brewing and Crystal Springs Brewing Co. set up shop in Louisville; Odd13 and Front Range Brewing opened in Lafayette and The Post Brewing Co. is expected to open there in early 2014. Longmont also expects to see a mini beer boom, with 300 Suns Brewing and Grossen Bart both on track to open there next year.
Homebrewers turned pro are the driving force behind many of these new nanobreweries and brewpubs, and they're bringing their sense of experimentation and inventiveness with them to fill micro-niches within Boulder's already robust brewing scene.
A brewery dedicated to Belgian-style beers? That's only beginning. Expect to see even more blurred lines between styles and specialized beers released in the coming year - sour, smoked, barrel-aged or otherwise - and the best part is that you'll likely need to visit the brewery in person to sample these limited, small-batch creations.
Which leads to the other big trend we'll likely see continue in 2014 — collaboration among breweries. Craft brewers, in general, are a mutually supportive group who don't hesitate to help out fellow brewers with recipe advice, ingredients, brew space or anything else they might need, and this open culture often leads to some creative collaborative projects.
In fact the Colorado Brewers Guild and Imbibe Denver have put their heads together to launch the first Collaboration Festival in 2014, where more than 20 special collaboration beers involving at least one Colorado-based brewery will be available for public sampling. The festival is set for March 22 at Denver's Curtis Hotel. Visit events.imbibedenver.com for details.
"One question I am often asked is what is the competition in the craft beer community," said Steve Kurowski, marketing and communications representative with the Colorado Brewers Guild, in announcing the festival. "My answer is none. Craft beer is about collaboration and creating the best beers possible."
Contact Tom Wilmes at firstname.lastname@example.org