Expansion on tap for pair of Eagle County breweries

Craft Brewing Facts

Craft brewers currently provide an estimated 108,440 jobs in the U.S., including serving staff in brewpubs.

Growth of the craft brewing industry in 2012 was 15 percent by volume and 17 percent by dollars compared to growth in 2011 of 13 percent by volume and 15 percent by dollars.

Craft brewers sold an estimated 13,235,917 barrels of beer in 2012, up from 11,467,337 in 2011.

A barrel is 31 gallons.

The craft brewing sales share in 2012 was 6.5 percent by volume and 10.2 percent by dollars.

Craft brewer retail dollar value in 2012 was an estimated $10.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion in 2011.

As of March 18, 2013, the Brewers Association is aware of 409 brewery openings in 2012 (310 microbreweries and 99 brewpubs) and 43 brewery closings (18 microbreweries and 25 brewpubs).

2,347 craft breweries operated for some or all of 2012, comprised of 1,132 brewpubs, 1,118 microbreweries and 97 regional craft breweries.

EDWARDS — Real Americans are not a complicated lot; if you brew better beer, Real Americans buy it and your business gets bigger.

Take local Crazy Mountain Brewing Company and the Bonfire Brewery, for example. Equipment started arriving Tuesday that will almost double Crazy Mountain’s brewing capacity and add 10 jobs. Crazy Mountain’s growth has topped 300 percent in each of the past two years, the company said.

“Our capacity is completely maxed out and we can barely keep up with orders,” said Zach Schmitz, Crazy Mountain’s national sales director. “While it’s a good problem to have, we need to grow to keep up with demand.”

Speaking of demand, Bonfire Brewery will launch its statewide distribution in two days.

“Our capacity is completely maxed out and we can barely keep up with orders,” said Zach Schmitz, Crazy Mountain’s national sales director. “While it’s a good problem to have, we need to grow to keep up with demand.”

Support Local Journalism

“We’ll be available in every corner of the state,” said Bonfire’s Andy Jessen.

Crazy Mountain’s brewing capacity will increase from 12,000 barrels per year to 20,000 barrels. Right now, they can brew 60 barrels a day. This will increase that to 100 in 24 hours and 124 in 28 hours.

Just so you know, a barrel is 31 gallons. There’ll be a quiz.

Crazy Mountain will add production and packaging jobs and a night shift to brew and bottle/can beer 24 hours a day. Crazy Mountain’s beers are distributed in 14 states from coast to coast, and Sweden and Japan.

Crazy Mountain started brewing beer in 2009 and have been in their Edwards location since 2010.

“We have good beer and we’re grateful that people like drinking it,” said Crazy Mountain’s Stephanie Merritt. “Last time we checked we were one of the fastest growing breweries in America.”

Owner and brewmaster Kevin Selvy was a stock trader in San Francisco and was making beer in his backyard.

“I knew I wanted to open a brewery, and I figured it’d be a good idea if I learned to brew beer,” Selvy said.

He’s an observant fellow and noticed his friends were more interested in his beer than his financial insight. So he brewed beer and gave it to friends. He attracted lots of new friends.

One of those friends went on a sailing trip with a friend who worked for Anchor Brewing, America’s original microbrewery. Selvy’s new Anchor acquaintance called to ask him to interview for an internship, and before you can say, “Let me open that for you,” Selvy was face-to-face with Fritz Maytag, the father of America’s microbrewing industry.

Maytag offered him a job and Selvy grabbed it.

“I went to my high-paying job at 5 a.m. the next morning and quit to take a huge pay cut and start brewing beer,” Selvy said.

Crazy Mountain is named after a mountain on the Selvy family land in Salida.

Local growth

The Vail Valley has three brewpubs: Crazy Mountain Brewery and the Gore Range Brewery in Edwards, and the Bonfire Brewery in Eagle.

Bonfire’s Jessen and Matt Wirtz were roommates when they started brewing beer. Their other roommate moved out but kept paying her rent, so they used her space to make some homebrew.

Andy asked Matt if he could make $500 worth of beer every month they could sell, so they wouldn’t have to have another roommate.

Their brewing operation moved to the garage and they got pretty good at it. They joke that they’ve just moved to a series of bigger garages because they’re on Second Street in Eagle, where the Viking garage used to be. Last November, they cranked up their production facility on Chambers Avenue in Eagle, and that’s how they can go statewide.

Wirtz and Jessen brewed the official beer for Red Cliff’s Man of the Cliff, Wood Splitter. Jessen calls it “Lawn Mower for lumberjacks.”

“It’s in liquor stores and it’s almost gone,” Jessen said.

“They’re saving eight kegs for the event and 10 cases for liquor stores in Red Cliff during the event

They also brewed Gypstoberfest, the official beer of Guypsum’s Oktoberfest.

The Bonfire Boys are making their first professional pilgrimage to Denver’s Great American Beer Festival, the biggest beer festival in the country.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

Support Local Journalism