The Rise of Brewing in Central Colorado: A Historical Perspective

In 1859, Rocky Mountain Brewing became Colorado's first known brewery, but this Denver establishment only lasted about a year. With the arrival of the gold rush, which brought thousands of people to the state in the 19th century, an opportunity and demand for beer arose. A gold miner had to relax after a tiring day at work, after all! However, Colorado residents were thirsty, so the brewery was far from the last of its kind; it was closely followed by other establishments that appeared in mining towns all over the mountains. When a new mining camp was being built, setting up a tavern was often the first priority, and anyone with a superficial knowledge of brewing immediately had a thirsty clientele willing to try their products. In 1989, the Old Colorado Brewing Co.

opened in Fort Collins. It was the first microbrewery in the city and located on the ground floor of the Northern Hotel in the old town. It was one of the forerunners of the microbrewery revolution of the 1980s. While it no longer works in the old town, it is operational in the vicinity of Wellington, Colorado. The breweries of the gold rush era mainly produced German-style beers, lots of pilsners and lagers, but since barley was scarce, they got a little creative and supplemented their beans with rice or corn.

Small neighborhood breweries are as essential to local culture as the taverns that once served as the center of mining camps, and you can't walk into a liquor store without seeing the name of a new brewery or a flavor of beer you've never tasted before. On weekends, you can find it in the latest edition of bottles or by visiting some of Colorado's 70 breweries. This brief tour of downtown and northeast Fort Collins was created by selecting Clio entries created by Thomas Cauvin and his students at Colorado State University. And while no beer is served at the exhibition, its location in the heart of the city center allows you to be very close to many of Denver's breweries. When the American economy plunged into the Great Depression, men were waiting in line while breweries were idle. Soon after the first local breweries began to emerge, the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority saw an opportunity and embraced the industry, offering incentives and promotions to breweries as tourist attractions. Although Fort Collins has more than 15 breweries today, at the time of Coopersmith's creation in 1989, Fort Collins only had six breweries.

And so that Front Range doesn't get all the credit, there are hundreds of breweries scattered around the mountains and ski towns of Colorado. As alcohol consumption in the United States reached historically high levels, reformers saw that alcoholism trapped families in poverty, destroyed drinkers' health, and generated violence - particularly in homes. Zang Brewing - a historic Denver brewery located in what is now Denver Aquarium - produced enough beer in 1910 to place it among today's top five breweries in Colorado. Called The Rise of Craft, it illustrates how Papazian would inspire an era of homebrewers who would later create some of Colorado's best-known breweries. With ninth highest number of breweries per 100,000 residents in US and fourth highest number of beers per establishment nationwide, it is truly considered mecca for breweries - rivaling any other city in US. The popular brewery helped spur redevelopment of Denver's then-difficult Lower Downtown district which is now vibrant neighborhood where residents and visitors can still enjoy Wynkoop beer or choose from long list of new restaurants and breweries. This could explain why according to some historical estimates there were up to 129 breweries across Colorado at height of gold rush beer boom.

Today's craft beer industry has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings during Colorado's gold rush era. From small neighborhood establishments to large-scale microbreweries across Central Colorado, craft beer has become an integral part of local culture. Whether you're looking for a classic German-style lager or something more experimental like a rice-corn blend beer, there's something for everyone when it comes to craft brewing in Central Colorado.

Betsy Nevels
Betsy Nevels

Hardcore tv aficionado. General music trailblazer. Friendly bacon maven. Lifelong twitter specialist. Infuriatingly humble social media maven.

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