Before March 2020 and the impact of COVID-19-related government regulations and safety protocols, only 80 of Colorado’s breweries distributed beer to fans through restaurants and retail stores. The remaining of the state’s 425 breweries relied on on-premise sales of beer through their taprooms.
Looking back on the past year of the pandemic’s influence on the brewing industry in Colorado, many breweries have shifted the ways they operate to include new methods of distribution or have faced devastating sales losses.
Since March 2020, 33 Colorado-based breweries have closed, an all-time record for the previously booming craft beer industry in the state. Nearly all of the 392 breweries remaining in Colorado reported flat or declining sales in 2020, with many reporting production of beer down an average of 30- to 40-percent.
“The impact of the pandemic and changing consumer behavior on the craft beer industry in Colorado is devastating,” says Shawnee Adelson, executive director of the Colorado Brewers Guild. “The ability to sell beer in a community-style taproom was a pillar of success for many of Colorado’s breweries, and they’ve had a challenging year navigating the changing landscape.”
For breweries that began canning and distributing beer to maintain at least some access to market when taproom and restaurant capacities were limited or closed completely over the past year, the new landscape was still challenging. Breweries who introduced new sales methods through retail, delivery or strictly to-go sales incurred additional costs for labor, cans, labels, and mobile canning fees.
Colorado Strong’s Safer With Foam Campaign
To support Colorado’s independent brewery owners who are feeling the effects of the current pandemic, Colorado Strong launched its state-wide public awareness campaign, Safer With Foam.
“Independent craft breweries are community spaces that are critical to local economies across Colorado,” says Shawnee Adelson, executive director of the Colorado Brewers Guild. “A play on the Safer At Home of the past year, the Safer With Foam campaign encourages beer lovers to continue to support the breweries in their communities and help them survive this difficult time.”
The Safer With Foam campaign, created by Colorado’s Turn It Up, follows Colorado Strong’s 2020 launch of the Colorado Strong Fund and its namesake beer the Colorado Strong Pale Ale. The collaborative beer recipe, which was brewed by 125 breweries across the state of Colorado, used all Colorado-sourced ingredients, generated more than $2.4 million in consumer spending and raised more $115K to support the Safer With Foam public awareness campaign, provide funds for the Colorado Brewers Guild to support membership and ensure Colorado Strong future programming (source: Left Hand Brewing Foundation’s 2020 Impact Report).
“Over the past year, the Colorado Strong initiative has raised funds to support breweries, suppliers and their communities in ways that make a serious economic impact in our state,” says Eric Wallace, president and co-founder of Longmont-based Left Hand Brewing and president of the Left Hand Brewing Foundation board of directors, an underwriter of Colorado Strong. “We are so proud to continue this effort in 2021 with the launch of Safer With Foam and encourage all members of the Colorado brewing community to spread the word.”
How to Get Involved
To participate in the Safer With Foam initiative, beer lovers are encouraged to:
- visit Colorado breweries in accordance with all local safety guidelines
- follow Colorado breweries on social media to show support and to stay updated on changing social distancing protocols
- donate directly to the Colorado Strong Fund
Non-brewery organizations wanting to participate in the Colorado Strong campaign through underwriting or use of Safer With Foam assets should click here to request more information on how to become collaborative partners. Breweries looking for more information should click here.
“Buying beer to-go, following all local guidelines for social distancing and safe consumption, and purchasing gift cards and merchandise help breweries keep their staff working, provide benefits, and keep the lights on so they will be there for us when we can safely visit,” says Adelson.