The Big Business of Beer

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An iconic Colorado beer helped create the state’s billion dollar industry

In 1873, Adolph Coors and Jacob Scheuler, both German immigrants, invested a combined $20,000 to build their first brewery in Golden, Colorado.  From those humble beginnings, a mighty brewing empire was born.  Today the Coors Brewing Company operates in a joint venture with the Miller Brewing Company as MillerCoors.

It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when Coors Banquet beer, in its distinctive tall aluminum, can, could only be bought west of the Mississippi.  Back in the 1960s and 1970s, it wasn’t unusual to hear of a couple of enterprising East Coast college kids turning weekend bootlegger — driving west, loading up their vehicle with as much Coors as possible and driving back to school to resell the brew.  The practice was even immortalized in the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit.

By the end of the 1980’s, however, Coors was available almost everywhere in the US.  Today, Coors Banquet is still produced at the original brewery in Golden, presumably still made — as the tagline says — using “pure Rocky Mountain spring water.”

These days, Colorado is home to a thriving $2.7-billion craft beer industry led by some of the most popular names in craft beer, including New Belgium Brewing, Oskar Blues and Left Hand Brewing.  More than 100 beer festivals, including the Great American Beer Festival, took place in Colorado in 2016.

Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (303) 892-3840 oedit.info@state.co.us
Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (303) 892-3840 oedit.info@state.co.us
Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (303) 892-3840 oedit.info@state.co.us
Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (303) 892-3840 oedit.info@state.co.us