Meet The Colorado Beer Barons! Not only have these three guys visited every Colorado brewery but they did it together in under two years! I had the great pleasure of meeting them just before they finished their quest and asked them a few questions.
Photo Credit: Thomas King
CBG: Who are the guys that make up the Colorado Beer Barons?
Dan Hess is a native of Inverness Florida. He fell in love with Colorado and Colorado beer as soon as the USAF stationed him here. We call Dan the Muscle as he keeps George and Gary on their tasks.
Gary is a native Coloradan from Brighton. He has always been a beer festival fan and has always wanted to tour the entire State of Colorado to drink beer. We secretly believe he set this whole thing up. Aka Face. He’s the social media guy of the group.
George is a native Philadelphian. He originally came to Colorado when he was stationed here in 2002. After a short stint outside of Colorado he came back to stay for good. Aka the nerd. I do the website and database management along with researching the upcoming breweries.
CBG: Who are the Colorado Beer Barons?
We set out on 16 Jan 2015 to drink a beer at every Colorado brewery that had a taproom. The mission was thought up after Dan and I (George) thought we had a beer at every Colorado Springs brewery. The bartender quickly let us know that Storybook Brewery opened and we were in fact not done. Right at that moment Dan and I decided to complete the entire state. So Dan fired off a text to Gary who was immediately in for the tour; we bought a beer map and started our quest at Bristol Brewery.
Together we call ourselves the Colorado Beer Barons. Our website is http://coloradobeerbarons.com. We run the site with the idea that anyone can steal our list and use it to do exactly what we did, tour Colorado. The website was actually born as a side effect of needing a way to track all the breweries opening in Colorado and all the breweries we visited. We originally started out as we believe many people did, with a Spreadsheet and paper and pencil. When we finish on Wednesday the 19th of October, we will have visited 298 breweries over 642 day for an average of 0.4642 breweries per day. To celebrate our accomplishment, Dan’s uncle is baking us a custom Baron cake. [CBG Note: Their number of 298 also includes Coors & Budweiser which are not included in my personal current count of 296.]
CBG: What are some of your favorite memories of your quest?
It starts with three friends making time to visit all of these far-flung locations in Colorado to drink a beer together. There are so many other memories, but that’s what will stick with us long into old age. As for actual places and things that happened, camping in Ridgeway outside of Ouray is hard to beat. So is driving the Million Dollar Highway and Red Mnt Pass. But we all think getting to take a private plane, a Beechcraft Baron, to Durango, Grand Junction and Telluride is the thing that sets our tour apart. As a matter of fact, we should call out Bill Adams, our pilot, as the one that made the possible. He gave up three weekends to drive and fly a couple of beer tourists around this great state of Colorado.
On one trip, my Girlfriend’s car blew the number three spark plug. Instead of turning around, we limped off of I-25 and drove at 14 MPH until we got to an Autozone to change all the plugs and then we pressed on.
Another great memory was our trip to Florence Brewery. The owner, Hans, was there that night as we expect he is every night, and we ended up drinking with him all night. We traded a ton of beer stories until Hans challenged us to sleep upstairs in the abandoned hotel that the brewery was built into. We accepted immediately. Hans grabbed a bunch of camping gear and we headed upstairs to stay the night. Again it was fantastic! Although, I did drive me topless Jeep Wrangler down there and the morning drive home was brisk to say the least. Hans is a great brewer, a bartender and a beer fan. Florence is a brewery that you must visit if you haven’t visited them yet!
We did the Four Corners trip. We all grabbed a craft beer and took the requisite picture of us standing outside of Colorado and toasting the state of Colorado with our beers.
Over the tour we’ve ran into several breweries that were closed when we showed up. With one exception, all of them opened their doors to us and had a couple of beers with us. The beer community in Colorado is just leaps and bounds above everywhere else in this country, in our humble opinions.
On another night, Gary convinced us to drive to Parker for a single brewery. He knew a storm was coming in and that I-25 would be closing. That night he ended up getting a hotel in Denver and we walked the RiNO area all night drinking at all of those fantastic breweries. Gary also lost his phone during the walk in about 2 inches of snow. George went on a mission to find it and had to give a homeless person a hug and $20 to get the phone back.
CBG: What are your preferred styles of beer?
We all like pales, stouts and porters. I know what a stretch right? But over the tour we got to see the sours come into style along with the New England IPA, with some smoked beers and just flat out weird beers too. It was a fantastic trip.
CBG: What are your favorite tap rooms in terms of aesthetics and atmosphere?
In our opinion atmosphere always starts behind the bar. 2 Rascals in Montrose was a place that stood out even though it’s just in a brick building. The bartender was so welcoming and knowledgeable that we have a hard time forgetting that trip. Another was Industrial Revolution in Erie and Florence in, well, Florence.
CBG: What are some of your favorite destination breweries?
Dolores River Brewing for sure. They are outside of Cortez and their beer is fantastic. If you ever have an opportunity to get out there, you need to go! We’ve already mentioned 2 Rascals in Montrose. Recently, we just made the trip to Steamboat and found Butcherknife brewing, they are fantastic and again, the atmosphere starts behind the bar and those guys are fun to drink with.
The Colorado Beer Barons Logo