Because we have been showcasing fine domestic microbrews for nearly 12 years now, we’ve developed a list of favorite breweries that get featured more than once every few years. The Great Divide Brewing Company is one of these breweries. Founded in 1994, they are located in the heart of downtown Denver, Colorado. The story behind their inception is similar to many heroes of the microbrew revolution in the states—talented homebrewer is discouraged with their job search after earning their degree and decides to turn their passion for brewing into a full time, (hopefully) paying job. Not only is founder Brian Dunn getting paid these days, he and wife Tara, along with about ten full time employees are doing quite well. Year to date, through November 2004, Great Divide has seen over 20% growth!
A success story we’re happy to report, much is due to Brian’s keen business acumen, which was put to use in the early 1990s when he recognized a niche that could be filled in the Denver beer market. At the time, there were four brewpubs in Denver, but no microbreweries. Brian determined that opening Denver’s first microbrewery could be the perfect way to turn his homebrews into craft-brewed reality. After an enterprising start up effort, Great Divide Brewing Company was officially up and running on May 30th, 1994.
In the more than ten years since their opening, they have been market and critical darlings, winning seven medals at the Great American Beer Festival and four medals at the World Beer Cup. Recently, they launched a full-scale rebranding project, building on the strong reception for their more assertive, fuller-bodied brews. This all-encompassing project includes both a marked change in Great Divide’s beer line-up and the redesign of the brewery’s entire line of packaging and marketing materials.
Since introducing big-bodied brews such as Titan IPA (with big hop content at 65 IBUs), Yeti Imperial Stout (75 IBUs) and Hercules Double IPA (an astonishing 85 IBUs!), Great Divide has been hit with a cult-like fervor for these massive ales. As Brian Dunn puts it himself, “A little over a year ago, we decided to get back to our roots—to go back to the reasons we opened Great Divide ten years ago. We got into this business to brew the best beers—especially the styles that we as brewers want to drink. Over the years, we focused on running a business, and tried to tailor our offerings to what we thought most consumers wanted to drink. What I have realized over the past couple years is that a lot more people are clamoring for the complex, hoppy, assertive beers that all of us at the brewery love. We decided to take a chance and go for what makes our jobs so cool—having the opportunity to brew great beers.”
And while there was absolutely nothing that needed fixing at Great Divide, we welcome the change that their renaissance brings because it means they’re experiencing success and growth and, best of all, will be rolling out new, outstanding brews! All come in packages that illustrate many of the characteristics of living amidst the culture and energy of Colorado’s awe-inspiring outdoors. We decided to feature one of their new brews (Hotshot ESB) as well as an old favorite of ours (St. Bridget’s Porter). We know you won’t be disappointed by either—Cheers! And may we say best of luck to Great Divide as they roll out their sweet-looking new packaging designs and tasty new craft brews! Keep up the great work guys!
For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call (303) 296-9460 or check out their web site at www.greatdivide.com.