Colorado’s craft beers on the rise |

Colorado’s craft beers on the rise

Steve Raabe
The Denver Post

Colorado’s craft-beer industry can raise a toast to its heady status in the full-flavored malt- beverage sector. The number of craft breweries in the state rose to a record 101 during 2008, cementing Colorado’s position as No. 1 in the nation for craft-beer makers per capita.

Sales and production growth in 2008 slowed nationwide and in Colorado because of economic weakness, but the craft sector still grew faster than big-label U.S. brewers and imports.

The Boulder-based Brewers Association in a new report said craft-beer production reached a 4 percent U.S. market share for the first time in 2008. Major brewers such as MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch dominate the industry with an 82 percent share of the market.

Colorado’s largest craft brewer, Fort Collins-based New Belgium, made 493,000 barrels in 2008. Its 3.9 percent growth rate was the slowest in at least six years.

Growth also slowed at Odell Brewing in Fort Collins, with an 8.4 percent increase in 2008 compared with 18 percent in 2007.

Founder Doug Odell said that the recession is hurting the industry but that its core base of drinkers remains loyal.

“Stepping down to Bud Light is not an option for our customers,” he said. “A good craft beer is still an affordable luxury.”

Steve Raabe: 303-954-1948 or

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