Boulder Beer has some staying power. Despite management of Colorado’s first independent craft brewery switching hands last year, and despite the closure of its taproom, this elder statesmen of Colorado’s craft brewing is getting a facelift in 2021 thanks to a coordinated effort from some heavy hitters in the beer industry.
Starting this week, Boulder Beer is relaunching in 28 states with new can designs and some new brews. The launch is the result of at least a year’s worth of work.
Over a year ago, when Boulder Beer announced its intentions to close, Matthew Osterman of the Denver contract brewer Sleeping Giant approached Boulder Beer owner Gina Day with a partnership idea that would keep Boulder Beer cans on liquor store shelves. Osterman says keeping the brand alive was personal.
“Partially it was an emotional decision because I didn’t want to see Boulder Beer evaporate into the mist. … Boulder Beer is quintessentially Boulder,” Osterman says. “It feels a bit surreal to carry on the Boulder Beer brand because it was such an iconic concept that loomed so large for so long.”
Day adds Boulder Beer is now Osterman’s brand — “he’s the one creating, doing and orchestrating,” she says.
Osterman has the freedom to tweak recipes and has invited former Boulder Beer head brewer David Zuckerman to the Sleeping Giant facility to taste the beers.
So what’s coming back, albeit in some fancy new digs? Hazed & Infused, the iconic hazy IPA mde from El Dorado, Mandarina Bavaria, CTZ and Huell Melon hops; the citrus-forward Mojo High Altitude IPA; Shake Dark Chocolate Porter; and the Sko Buff Gold Beer. New is the Bubbly by Nature IPA that’s “tropical and juicy like an IPA, crisp and easy-drinking like a lager,” according to the packaging notes, and a version of the Shake porter aged on Laws Whiskey barrels (available on limited release).
Osterman worked with some former New Belgium folks, Dave Duffy and Greg Owsley, to smooth some of the wrinkles of the sales and marketing future for Boulder Beer. As a result, Stem Ciders has agreed to handle the day-to-day sales and marketing of the relaunch, a partnership facilitated by Duffy’s current leadership role at Stem.
“We thought we needed to start fresh with an empty palette and reinvent,” Duffy says. “Boulder as a city has really evolved and we felt the brand should reflect that reinvention.”
So far, Boulder Beer won’t necessarily be on tap at Stem’s Lafayette outpost or anywhere else for that matter, but Osterman says you may be able to enjoy Boulder Beer in a taproom sometime soon. He says they’ll “definitely” open a Boulder Beer taproom; it’s just a matter of when.
Until then, you can grab Boulder Beer in its sleek new cans, which are designed with black-and-white photos captured by Boulder residents — unique views of the Flatirons, mountains and the Sunrise Amphitheatre are all featured.
So, Boulder Beer is back, and has a bright future ahead. Not bad for the old dog of Colorado craft brewing.