Colorado’s oldest craft brewery is downsizing, ending distribution and laying off 21 employees

In 1979, in a goat shed on a small farm in north Boulder, two physics professors and an engineer started Boulder Beer Company, Colorado’s first craft brewery. Forty years later, that once-goat shed brewhouse sells more than 16,000 barrels annually and distributes its beer in 34 states.

But today, just a few months after celebrating its 40th anniversary, Boulder Beer Company announced it is shrinking operations, laying off 21 employees and ending widespread distribution, which means that its beer will soon be available only at its Boulder brewpub.

Colorado’s oldest craft brewery will still sell its beers in stores around the U.S. through the end of 2019. But starting in the new year, you’ll only be able to find brands like Mojo IPA and Buffalo Gold at the brewery’s Wilderness Place taproom outside Boulder.

“Boulder Beer has been part of my life for close to 30 years, as it has been for so many of our loyal friends and patrons, and we all want to see it live on,” Gina Day, Boulder Beer’s owner, said in a press release.

With this move, the business will still be able to operate independently “for years to come,” Day said.

Boulder Beer currently employs 50 people, and 21 of them will be laid off over the next two months, according to Tess McFadden, the brewery’s marketing director. The brewery is also selling off its canning and bottling lines, along with its larger brewing tanks, and will pare down to a smaller brewing system.

Boulder Beer’s decision comes at a time when craft breweries across the country are steadily selling to larger companies. Another Boulder behemoth, Avery Brewing, this year announced a 70% sale of its business to Founders Brewing Co. and Mahou San Miguel.

Heavy competition has made craft beer a tough market for independent brewers, particularly as sales in the sector slow. While craft beer now makes up about 13% of the overall beer market, its 3.9% growth in 2018 is the sector’s lowest in a decade, according to the Boulder-based Brewers Association, with overall beer sales in the U.S. dropping 1% last year.

“It’s no secret that the craft beer industry has become increasingly competitive in recent years,” said Tristan Schmid, marketing and events manager for the Colorado Brewers Guild. “Packaging and distribution come with their fair share of costs, which is one reason why we’ve seen so many smaller breweries successfully focus instead on their

Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle

      

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