BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Major changes are ahead for Colorado’s oldest craft brewery. Last week, Boulder Beer Company announced it will downsize and turn its attention to the brewpub, rather than national distribution.
The company will continue to sell cans and bottles of its beer in 27 states for the remainder of the year. After that, Boulder Beer Company fans will only be able to buy beer at the brewpub on Wilderness Place.
“We’ve stood the test of time, and what’s going on right now is just another one of those business decisions,” said Tess McFadden, director of marketing.
Boulder Beer, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, has bottled or canned beer for its entire history. In downsizing, the brewery will look to sell its large-scale brewing equipment and canning line.
In the process, the company will eliminate 21 of nearly 50 positions.
“It’s a decision that was not made lightly,” McFadden said. “It’s a pretty monumental decision, but one that we feel, in these turbulent times, will move us to safer waters.”
McFadden tells CBS4 the decision is a result of the industry’s rapid growth. These days, many beer fans have countless options and often buy local.
According to McFadden, Boulder Beer Company is not big enough to weather the storm of poor sales periods, but not small enough to focus on Colorado-only distribution.
“It’s fiercely competitive, and there’s just an explosive number of breweries opening every day. So, yeah, you have to reassess your strategies and business models,” McFadden said. “I would be surprised if most breweries aren’t doing that.”
Other Colorado breweries have made the same move in recent history. Boulder-based Twisted Pine Brewing, which made the decision in 2014, is currently focused on its brewpub, despite previously distributing to 12 states.
Over the phone Monday, General Manager Nick Wilson said the brewery is making less beer than ever before and bringing in more profit.
“It’s the best decision we’ve made so far,” Wilson said. “We are as strong as we’ve ever been.”
In response to questions about the industry’s growth and sustainability for mid-sized regional breweries, a representative with the Colorado Brewers Guild said it’s no secret the industry has become more competitive in recent years.
”While great for consumers who have more options, the landscape can be challenging for independent breweries regardless of size or age, especially for breweries like Boulder Beer,” said Tristan Schmid, marketing and event manager. “Packaging and distribution come with their fair share of costs, which is one reason why we’ve seen so many smaller breweries successfully focus instead on their immediate ‘backyards,’ selling locally brewed beer solely out of their taprooms.”