Asheville, N.C., and Grand Rapids, Mich., may have tied for BeerCity USA 2012, but in many ways, Boulder, Colo., remains a main cultural center of craft beer, and Boulder Beer Company has represented the industry’s waxing and waning trends over the years like few other brewing companies.
From its humble origins in a “goatshed”—a dilapidated farmhouse on the outskirts of Boulder—in 1979, to being distributed in 37 states, Boulder Beer Company has a history of innovation that has allowed them to stand out from the ever-growing craft beer crowd for over thirty years. While “the East Coast is just starting to wake up and get it” in terms of bold craft beer flavors, according to the company’s self-proclaimed “Marketing Tool,” Dan Weitz, Boulder Beer has always sought to serve up a distinctive line-up of brews. As Colorado’s first microbrewery and one of the first in the country, change has been a constant companion in and outside the brewhouse, and Boulder Beer has mastered it all.
With over 2,000 craft breweries dotting the American landscape, exciting news of expansion often overshadows the eternal virtues of longevity and persistence. “The key to Boulder Beer’s success has undoubtedly been its staff,” says Weitz. United by their passionate love of beer, the team at Boulder Beer not only crafts over a dozen different brews, but also offers plenty of accompanying plates at their full-service pub.
Love, service and dedication are hallmarks of the American craft beer industry, and while these themes recur so frequently to almost seem trite, Boulder Beer’s upcoming thirty-third anniversary is a reminder that they are, in fact, powerful truths. When people love to do their jobs, they tend to do them well, and Boulder Beer is no exception.
While we may take today’s bold bursts of hops, assertive roast characters, and satisfying notes of alcohol that warm us to our bones for granted, craft beer has changed quite a bit since 1979. People’s palates and expectations have gradually become acquainted with bolder, more interesting flavors, and Boulder Beer’s line-up is an evolving time capsule that has captured this epicurean evolution.
Old staples, such as Singletrack Copper Ale and Buffalo Gold, are easy-drinking, craft beers that presented consumers with similar, yet more flavorful alternatives to mainstream light lagers in the late 80s and early 90s. Boulder Beer’s liquid timeline has remained one step ahead of the craft beer curve thanks to the work of President Jeff Brown, Brewmaster David Zuckerman and their teams.
Hazed & Infused, Mojo IPA, and Sweaty Betty all debuted in the early aughts and were at the flavor forefront of their styles: an unfiltered Pale Ale infused with hops after fermentation through a then sparingly used technique called dry-hopping; a big, bold, citrusy India Pale Ale when gum smacking flavors and aromas were just coming in vogue; and a wheat beer that tastes bewitchingly more like Bavaria than Boulder with its hints of clove and banana. “Whatever Boulder Beer decides to brew, it has to stand out!” proclaims President Jeff Brown.
Beers like these are staples for almost any craft brewery today because consumers expect such a wide variety of palate pleasing styles, but it bodes well to remember that our taste buds took time to develop and appreciate being spoiled with flavor. In essence, Boulder Beer Company’s line-up is a tasty tour of American craft beer history.
Boulder Beer’s Goatshed Revival
To commemorate its pastoral past and introduce its newest innovations, Boulder Beer’s Goatshed Revival is a raucous, week-long anniversary party every September. Rather than rest on their laurels, Boulder Beer continues to push the envelope, and this year’s revival will likely feature choice selections from their barrel-aging program as well as a variety of their beers poured on nitrogen, which creates a thick, creamy head and a smooth, rich mouthfeel. Barrel-aged and nitrogenated beers are current craft beer trends, and, once again, Boulder Beer is near the front of the pack—a strategy, or rather a culture, that has allowed the company to become not only a Colorado, but national craft beer mainstay.
Foreign yet approachable, like any good German beer, Kay Witkiewicz, the current Craft Beer Program intern for the Brewers Association, is as avid a homebrewer as he is a beer writer. Expanding his kowledge of beer one sentence, one sip, and one stir of the mash at a time, he hopes to one day open a brewpub, following the seasonal brewing practices of old.