If you go
What: Boulder Beer's 35th Anniversary Celebration
When: Noon-9 p.m. Saturday, June 14
Where: The Pub at Boulder Beer, 2880 Wilderness Place, Boulder
Info: 303-444-8448, boulderbeer.com
There are at least 175 craft breweries and counting in Colorado, but only one can be first.
Boulder Beer Co., Colorado's original craft brewery and among the first in the nation, was founded in 1979 by University of Colorado physics professors David Hummer and Randolph "Stick" Ware. Originally called Boulder Brewing Co., the brewery was launched based on a simple premise — consumers deserve more choice and access to more flavorful beers.
Since then, the pioneering brewery has seen more ups and downs and changed the game more times than most ever will — building a large production brewery and installing a bottling line in the 1980s; recovering from slumping sales with an ownership change and revamped beer lineup in the early '90s; introducing Hazed and Infused, a hop-forward beer that turned a lot of heads in the early 2000s, and, now, a new canning line and expanded distribution.
"The pendulum has swung so far in 35 years that even beers like Hazed and Infused aren't quite the outliers that they used to be," said Boulder Beer co-owner and head brewer David Zuckerman, who joined the company in 1990. Rather than chase the next big thing, Boulder Beer remains driven by its "brewer-driven mentality" of making highly drinkable, enjoyable beers.
"It comes down to what every brewer in the country will likely tell you — we make the beers that we're interested in making," he said. "We're pretty good at doing what we want to do, and more often than not we're in good company as the beers that we like are what other people like, too."
Boulder Beer develops new beers on its 50-gallon pilot system and debuts them in The Pub as "Brewers Choice" beers. It's a way for brewers to flex their creative muscles and try new recipes and ingredients.
"Our customers are very clued in and let us know very quickly what they like and what they don't care for as much," Zuckerman said.
Patrons can sample many of these new Brewers Choice beers, as well as Boulder Beer's core offerings, during its 35th Anniversary Celebration from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday at The Pub.
The event is free and open to the public, just as during normal business hours, but with an expanded beer lineup outside, food specials and live music throughout the day.
Beers will be available for purchase a la carte, and customers also can purchase a 35th anniversary collector's goblet for $20 that includes 12 sampling tickets.
Patrons can look forward to Brewers Choice beers such as Strawbetty, a strawberry-infused Hefeweizen; Triple Decker Pepper, a cream ale that's been lagered and blended with peppers; Mocha Choca LaLa YaYa, a cold-pressed, coffee-infused chocolate porter brewed with orange marmalade, and Albino Rhino IV, a dry-hopped Belgian-style White IPA spiced with orange peel and coriander.
Hazed and Infused originally came from Boulder Beer's pilot program, as did Shake Chocolate Porter, which Zuckerman said is currently the brewery's top-selling beer.
Boulder Beer brewers also used the pilot system to produce its 35th anniversary Imperial Black IPA, which is available in The Pub as well as in commemorative 22-ounce, wax-dipped bottles.
"It received very favorable feedback in The Pub," Zuckerman said of the anniversary ale. The ale is brewed with Blackprinz malt, produced from de-hulled barley for less bitterness, and Horizon hops, a "cousin" of herbal Nugget hops, he said.
In addition to its pilot program, the brewery also is making good use of its new canning line. Hazed and Infused and Hoopla Pale Ale are both currently available in cans, with Buffalo Gold expected to make its debut in about a month and likely followed by Mojo IPA, Zuckerman said.
"With some beers available in both cans and bottles, we'll be able to see which consumers prefer," he said. "To me, it's a very interesting experiment in where the future of craft beer lies."
And wherever that future leads, it's clear Boulder Beer will continue to be at the forefront.
Contact Tom Wilmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.