Craft beverage industry taking off

Craft beverage industry taking off

The craft beer brewing and craft distilling businesses have been expanding by leaps and bounds all over Northern Colorado in the past 10 years.

Everywhere, that is, except Estes Park.

Town officials took note of that a couple years ago and discovered that part of the problem with luring those businesses to the mountains was a loophole in the Estes Valley Development Code that didn’t allow for that use.

After visiting craft businesses in Fort Collins and seeing how they generated jobs and sales taxes, town officials rolled up their sleeves and went to work on fixing the code.

That was accomplished in July and August of 2014.

A year later, Lumpy Ridge Brewing Company (July 2015), and Rock Cut Brewing Company (August 2015) opened shops in Estes Park. Elkins Distillery opened in July.

Dancing Pines Distillery opened a tasting room in September 2014. Its distillery remains in Loveland.

Today they are part of a local craft industry that includes three microbrewers, two distillers and a winery. And, officials couldn’t be more pleased.

“The town is thrilled that our adult beverage options have grown — and with high quality businesses that chose to call Estes Park home,” said Estes Park Town Administrator Frank Lancaster. “Our three breweries, two distilleries and winery are all popular destinations for guests and residents alike. We are happy to be a part of the larger craft beverage industry that Northern Colorado is becoming known for.”

So, how are these new businesses doing?

“Really good. More than that. Fabulous,” said Matthew Heiser, who co-owns Rock Cut Brewing Company with partner Tracy Goodemote. “We’re quite happy.”

Nick Smith, the owner and head brewer at Lumpy Ridge Brewing Company, agrees.

“It’s been very good. Absolutely,” Smith said. “We’re growing all the time. We’re as busy as we can be. No complaints.”

Joe Elkins, who co-owns and is the distiller of Elkins Whisky, said his business is doing what he expected it to as far as revenue is concerned. What has surprised him, though, is what people are purchasing.

“I thought we would sell a lot of bottles but we’re selling a lot of merchandise and cocktails,” Elkins said.

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