It seems like there’s a new brewery opening every few weeks with a variety of new and weird brews to offer the world. Sure, these new guys are great, but at the core of the craft beer world are breweries that have been around since the term “craft beer” wasn’t in our collective lexicon just yet. Breweries like Colorado’s Breckenridge Brewery, which opened its doors in February of 1990 and set the foundation for the new breweries we all love today. It’s thanks to breweries like Breckenridge that we have the term craft beer today.
While the original brewpub, which is still open today, was only capable of brewing around 3,000 barrels of beer each year, their current location puts out a massive 66,000 barrels of beer each year. It’s no wonder Breckenridge is in the top 50 US breweries when it comes to sales.
With a history longer than most, and some of the best beer around, it’s no wonder that Breckenridge Brewery is still going strong.
Located in the town of Breckenridge, Colorado the first iteration of Breckenridge Brewery opened its doors to the public in February of 1990, making it only the third brewpub in the state. Richard Squire, the founder of Breckenridge Brewery opened the brewpub on the historic main street of Breckenridge hoping to bring great beer to the masses. Paired with amazing homemade food the beer basically sold itself, pushing Squire to open a second location only two years later in Denver.
As luck would have it, directly across the street from Breckenridge’s second location would turn out to be the new home to none other than the Colorado Rockies baseball team in 1995. This influx thirsty patrons meant Squire’s team couldn’t make beer at the rate it was being consumed. Early last year, Breckenridge Brewery announced the plans for its new 85,000 sq. ft., $35 Million brewery and Farmhouse restaurant, located on a 12-acre country spread along the South Platte River in Littleton, CO.
Breckenridge Brewery opened the doors to the new brewery with an initial capacity of 150,000 bbl/year, and that will be expandable to about 300,000 bbl /year before needing to build any additional structures. The brewery, ranked the 40th largest U.S. Craft Brewery in 2013, has posted higher than 20% growth for the past four years. The new production facility will allow Breckenridge Brewery to continue this growth in a sustainable manner. Currently, the Denver brewery is at maximum capacity, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just to meet demand.
Today Breckenridge operates five separate brewpubs and ale houses in Colorado, and distribute their beer to 32 states. Here in Pittsburgh we’re lucky enough to get Breckenridge beer just as fresh as they do in Colorado.
The Never Summer Program
When you think of Colorado the image that most likely comes to your head is one of snowy mountains and skiers and snowboarders flying down said mountains. Breckenridge Brewery is more than aware of this idea and with the help of the aptly named Never Summer Industries, they are once again working together to welcome the winter sports season.
While most of us think baseball when we hear about opening day, the folks at Never Summer Industries think snow. The partnership between Breckenridge and Never Summer Industries celebrated the opening day of winter sports in Colorado starting on November 7th this year, with the celebration going well into December.
For Never Summer’s part they create a custom snowboard featuring the Breckenridge logo and for Breckenridge Brewery’s part they host parties throughout Colorado featuring their great beer. As winter comes it may truly feel that it will never be summer again, but with beer like Breckenridge offers, that might just be ok.
When it comes down to it, beer is really what it’s all about, right? And when it comes to Breckenridge Brewery the beer is definitely the star attraction. From year round favorites to seasonal offerings to a mixed 12-pack for those of us that are indecisive; there really is something for everyone at Breckenridge Brewery.
At the core of any brewery are their year-round offerings. While seasonal wonders are great, without a solid core of great beer the seasonal beers would never see the light of day.
Breck IPA – A great IPA is at the core of any solid beer lineup, and after a scrutiny of ingredients and experimentation with process, Breckenridge Brewery made what they consider a true leader in the IPA world. Breck IPA features a prominent fruity and floral aroma that gives way to a well-balanced taste and body thanks to the choice in malts used in the beer. Unlike many other IPAs, the true secret ingredient in Breck IPA is a rare malt variety that lends the perfect balance to this 6.3% ABV beer.
Avalanche Ale – First brewed in 1988 by founder Richard Squire himself, Avalanche Ale is an amber ale that’s considered the cornerstone of Breckenridge Brewery’s offerings. Brewed using both caramel and pale malts, this beer is balanced out with just enough hops to give the beer the full package. Avalanche Ale comes in at a sessionable 4.4% ABV that finishes smooth and is surprisingly easy to drink.
Vanilla Porter – Dark and malty, this beer has a vanilla character that pairs perfectly with the chocolate and roasted nut flavor that’s balanced perfectly in this beauty of a beer. The chocolate and roasted nut come to this beer via the malts used in this beer, with the vanilla coming all the way from Papua New Guinea and Madagascar. Breckenridge’s Vanilla Porter comes in at 4.7% ABV, making it a great beer year round.
Oatmeal Stout – Bold, smooth, and full of dark-roasted coffee aromas and flavor, Oatmeal Stout by Breckenridge Brewery is, as they say dark in character, not in spirit. Breckenridge uses a spirituous dose of flaked oatmeal to give this beer a creamy body and a semi-dry finish. All total, this 4.9% ABV beer is dark without being overly heavy.
471 IPA – Brewed in small batches to focus on the big flavor, 471 Small Batch IPA from Breckenridge Brewery is an aggressively strong IPA that uses five different malts and four different hop varieties for a depth of flavor and aroma that is far more than the sum of its parts. 471 IPA comes in at a hefty 9.2% ABV that starts with a moderate sweetness up from with a dry bitterness on the finish. If you’re looking for the biggest kid on the block, this is definitely what you’re wanting.
Variety Pack – Is deciding on one single beer too difficult for you? If you’re of the indecisive persuasion, the Rocky Mountain Sampler from Breckenridge Brewery is right for you. The 12-pack sampler features three each of four different beers including the Avalanche Ale, Vanilla Porter, as well as a seasonal beer and one of the Mountain Series of brews, a special lineup of beers from Breckenridge Brewery.
The great things about the seasons are that they’re always changing. Along with the change in weather comes a change in those special beers we get to enjoy each year. As winter closes in we look to the holiday and winter beers to keep us warm on the long, cold winter nights as we all wait for spring to thaw us out.
Christmas Ale – Each year Breckenridge Brewery releases their Christmas Ale to welcome the season in style. This 7.4% ABV beer is full-bodied with a noticeable caramel character that’s backed up with notes of chocolate and just enough bitterness to be present without impacting the amazing holiday flavor. Brewed in the style of a winter warmer, this American Strong Ale is dark and delicious, something you’ll love to drink by the fire on a chilly night.
Other seasonal beers from Breckenridge include their Ophelia Hoppy Wheat, Summerbright Ale, and Autumn Ale, each available in their respective seasons.
Breckenridge Brewery is proudly distributed in and around the Pittsburgh area by Frank Fuhrer Wholesale.