Boulder Beer turns 35

Steve Weishampel

Between wacky recipes, oddball marketing and all manner of shenaniganry, it isn’t just the alcohol that makes the corporate identity of most breweries seem fairly adolescent. But can you blame ‘em? It’s not quite The Children of the Corn, but only a handful of breweries are out of their teens. The elder statesman of Colorado breweries, Boulder Beer, is only 35. And barely 35 at that. Its birthday is this weekend.

And before it came into the world, the beer scene was a dark place indeed.

“Before prohibition, there were as many brews as there are today,” says Boulder Beer’s marketing director, Tess McFadden.

But prohibition decimated both the American brewing industry and culture. By the time Boulder Beer was founded in 1979, McFadden says there were only 42 other breweries left operating in the country.

“That includes the big guys,” she says.

And though it might seem hard to believe now, when it seems like every restaurant, back alley and bus stop in Colorado has a brewing operation going, it took another 10 years before Colorado got its second brewery: Odell, up in Fort Collins.

But it didn’t take much longer for craft brewing to snowball and the number of brewers in the market to explode.

McFadden doesn’t see it just as competition, she sees it as creating generations of beer savvy consumers.

“People’s palates are evolving,” she says. “The more people that are finding craft beer they enjoy, then the more likely they are to find Boulder Beer.”

A good time to start finding it would be Saturday, June 14, when Boulder Beer will officially throw down for the big three-five.

Starting at 1 p.m., there will be live music throughout the day, from Brazilian band Ginga, and Big Thompson Flood.

But the real gold will be outside the brewery in a tent that will be set up on the lawn.

Boulder Beer’s alchemists have been working around the clock to create 11 special brews for the “rare beer tasting garden.” Amongst others, attendees can sample a cold-pressed coffee porter, a black peach golden ale, and the official anniversary beer, an imperial black IPA.

It will also be the last birthday before Boulder Beer succumbs to what so many others have when facing the creeping spectre of middle age: a little nip-tuck.

“We are getting pretty excited about a major pub remodel at the end of the year,” says McFadden.

And in case you have a little too much fun at Boulder Beer’s b-day shindig and can’t wait another year, you’re in luck. Twisted Pine Brewing is throwing a party for its 19th birthday on Saturday, July 19 with music from North Boulder Underground, Groundscore and The Congress. Tickets for that par-tay are $5 and now on sale via Twisted Pine’s website.