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Craft Beer In Colorado Is Booming

Revolution Brewery, Craft Beer, Paonia
Laura Palmisano

A recent report finds Colorado has more than doubled its number of craft breweries since 2009. 

The state’s craft brewery industry is doing well, according to the report by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.

The study, commissioned by the Colorado Brewers Guild, found the state ranks third in the nation, just behind California and Washington, in number of craft breweries.  

Mike King owns Revolution Brewery in Paonia, which opened six years ago.

“I started as a brewer and [then] became a business man so [the business] side of it is newer to me than you might believe," King said. 

The study found the industry had an overall economic benefit, which includes employee wages and the buying and selling of goods in the state, of $826 million dollars last year. That’s up from $704 million dollars in 2012.

King joked "millions" don't cross his breweries path, but said his business has grown.  

Mike King, Revolution Brewery
Credit Laura Palmisano
Mike King owns Revolution Brewery in Paonia, Colo.

"We used to brew 22 gallons a day and today we’ll brew 250 gallons, he said while working in his brewery. 

There are about 232 craft breweries in the state, according to the Colorado Brewers Guild.  And that number continues to climb.

Brandon Frey co-owns Two Rascals Brewery in Montrose. It opened in 2012.

“We get a lot of people that are traveling through that are basically going around the entire state of Colorado trying to visit as many microbreweries as they can," Frey said. "It’s nice for the craft beer industry that people are making their vacations around just stopping at different breweries and trying different stuff."

The study also found the industry employees about 5,000 people in Colorado.

Frey’s operation is small, but he said he's hoping to hire more staff in the near future. 

Two Rascals Brewery, Montrose
Credit Laura Palmisano
Two Rascals Brewery in Montrose opened in 2012.

“As far as employees go, it’s just me and my business partner Daniel Leonardi," he said. "With our new expansion and hope to start distributing [soon] we’re going to have to hire probably another five to 10 people to keep up with demand."

King said between his brewery and tasting room, he employs six people.

Jessie Zimmerman works for King as a brewer.  

“I’ve been working here for three years," Zimmerman said. "It’s a great job to have especially in Paonia where there’s not a ton of work for people that live here year-around.” 

Kings said he thinks the industry will continue to grow.

“I think that...more small breweries [will open] because people are coming to the beer," he said. 

Laura joined KVNF in 2014. She was the news director for two years and now works as a freelance reporter covering Colorado's Western Slope. Laura is an award-winning journalist with work recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Broadcasters Association, and RTDNA. In 2015, she was a fellow for the Institute for Justice & Journalism. Her fellowship project, a three-part series on the Karen refugee community in Delta, Colorado, received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award.
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