Mar 8, 2024 - Business

Established Colorado breweries expand as smaller ones struggle

Denver's Prost Brewing's new brewhouse in Northglenn. Photo courtesy of Prost

Denver's Prost Brewing's new brewhouse in Northglenn. Photo: Courtesy of Prost

Just as more local breweries close in tight economic times, others continue to expand and open new locations.

Why it matters: The split picture illustrates how the craft beer market has evolved to favor better-known and well-financed brands as smaller operations often struggle to survive.

State of play: At least a dozen long-standing Colorado craft breweries have announced expansion plans in recent months. Most of them are opening locations to tap new customers and diversify their reach, brewers tell us.

  • Denver Beer Co. moved into Littleton; Prost in Denver expanded to a new brewhouse in Northglenn; and Boulder-based Sanitas added an outpost in Englewood.
  • Living the Dream expanded to two locations in recent months, including one in Highlands Ranch vacated by the closed Grist Brew.
  • Lone Tree added a second brewery last week in the former Barnett and Son Brewing spot in Parker.

The intrigue: Even smaller breweries are looking for new opportunities. Denver's WestFax and Zuni are adding future locations in Colorado Springs and Crested Butte, respectively.

What they're saying: "We were early enough on that we were able to invest in the business, grow it and we've been looking for an additional opportunity to expand our brand," Lone Tree owner John Winter told us.

  • "We were the first craft brewery in the Denver south suburbs," he added. "Parker is growing, Lone tree is growing and we'd like to take advantage of that.

Yes, but: Others are closing or struggling to keep their doors open.

Between the lines: The emphasis on suburban locations outside Denver is noticeable and reflects migration patterns in craft beer's core customers and the post-pandemic move to work from home.

  • "The opportunity lies out here with young people buying homes … and wanting a place to go drink craft beer, just as they did in their previous lives downtown," Winter said.
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