It continued to be a tumultuous year for beer in Colorado as we saw a continued frenzy of openings, closures, acquisitions, and industry moves. However, despite the flurry of shakeups, there continued to be some tremendous beers and breweries that shone brightly. Join us in taking a look back at some of the best beers, breweries, biggest movers and loudest headlines from 2023.
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Favorite Colorado Beers of 2023
Cannonball Creek (Golden, CO) | Grade 10
Bursting with fruity strawberry and pineapple flavors, this West Coast IPA maintains some bitter bite to remind you what you’re drinking. Cannonball has put 10 years of knowledge and innovation into the WCIPA game to create this beauty. – Britt Antley
New Image Brewing Co. (Arvada, CO) | Madera 2023 – Blend 1 (PX Sherry)
One of the most bonkers beers I drank in 2023, Madera is a macro-oxidized Barleywine aged in sherry barrels. A nose of cherry, raisin, raspberry, chocolate, peat, and leather is followed by tastes of raspberry jam, raisins, bitter baker’s chocolate, and tobacco. The smoky finish just serves as a reminder of the wild ride you just went on. – Britt Antley
River North Brewery (Denver, CO) | Anniversary 11
For their 11th anniversary, River North turned the dial to 11 with this 23% (!!!) quadruple barrel aged Stout. The combination of beer, barrels and time created stunning flavors vanilla, brownie batter, and coconut that one would only expect from the use of adjuncts. – Britt Antley
Primitive Beer Co. (Longmong, CO) | SuperMoon SuperFriends
This collab marries Primitive’s spontaneous beer conditioned on peaches in Reposado Tequila casks with Cellar West’s Brett Pale Ale to create a fruity, funky, spirit-driven beer like nothing else I had in 2023. – Britt Antley
Cerebral Brewing Co. (Denver, CO) | Triple Mash Pappy Van Winkle Here Be Monsters
The culmination of Cerebral’s ever-advancing barrel program is this 3-year barrel-aged Stout that perfectly balances a bold triple mashed body with bourbon barrel, yielding strong oak elements alongside vanilla, dark cherries, and coconut. – Britt Antley
LUKI Brewery (Arvada, CO) | Stretch Your Quads
My sleeper beer of the year — LUKI is known (or has historically been known) for its old-school brews, which tend to lean towards a more “balanced” profile than hop or pucker bombs. While a Quad is certainly in the realm of “old school,” Belgian-style beers generally take a bit of specialized focus to really master, so I was surprised by just how incredible this beer was, as casually as it was thrown in the lineup. One of the top 5 beers I tried all year, hands down. – Seth Garland
Amalgam Brewing (Denver, CO) | Modern West
Hands down the best West Coast IPA I’ve encountered in recent years, Modern West showcases that perfect balance of light dankness, a burst of tropical stone-fruit hop flavors through the use of Simcoe, Mosaic, Nectaron & Mosaic Cryo hops, all rounded out with a bright, crisp, clean finish. – Tristan Chan
Westbound & Down (Idaho Springs, Denver, Lafayette, Aspen, CO) | Westbound Select
Westbound & Down, has quietly built a reputation in recent years as one of Colorado’s most decorated breweries at the highest level of national competition particularly for their work in producing hop-forward beers. This year, the highly lauded brewery added another major award with the first-ever gold medal in the debut year for the West Coast IPA category at the 2023 Great American Beer Festival. Much like Modern West, Westbound Select strikes the beautiful balance of tropical fruit notes with a beautifully clean, dank baseline. – Tristan Chan
Colorado Brewery Openings/Closings/Sales
In chronological order
- January 16, 2023 | Wah Gwan Brewing Closes in Denver
- February 04, 2023 | Rocky Mountain Brewery Closes in Colorado Springs
- February 12, 2023 | Pagosa Brewing Closes
- February 26, 2023 | Welcome Home Brewery Closes in Parker
- May 7, 2023 | Sheaf & Kettle Closes in Eaton
- March 15, 2023 | Red Mountain Brewing Closes in Ouray
- March 24, 2023 | Cerebral Brewing Co Opens Second Taproom in Aurora
- March 24. 2023 | Front Range Brewing Closes in Lafayette
- April 23, 2023 | MobCraft Beer Closes in Denver
- April 20, 2023 | Fiction Beer Co Opens Second Brewery and Taproom in Parker
- June 1, 2023 | Kettle & Spoke Closes in Boulder
- June 6, 2023 | Dos Luces Brewing Closure in Denver
- June 9, 2023 | Counter Culture Brewery & Grille Closure
- June 15, 2023 | Redgarden Restaurant & Brewery Closes in Louisville
- June 23, 2023 | Sanitas Brewing Co. Opens second location in Englewood
- June 23, 2023 | Smiling Toad Closes in Colorado Springs
- July 4, 2023 | Soul Squared Brewing Closes in Wellington
- July 21, 2023 | Mockery Brewing Closes in Denver
- July 21, 2023 | Uhl’s Brewing Co. Closes in Boulder
- July 23, 2023 | Crow Hop Brewing Closes in Loveland
- September 23, 2023 | Lowdown Brewery Closes in Denver
- September 30, 2023 | The Baker’s Brewery Closes in Silverthorne
- October 11, 2023 | Burns Family Artisan Ales Opens Second Cocation in Former Dos Luces Brewery Space
- October 13, 2023 | Mad Russian Brewing Closes in Olathe
- November 3, 2023 | Dry Dock Closes Taproom/Production Brewery and Will Be Partnering with Great Divide Who Will Take Over Brewing Operations
- November 10, 2023 | Monolith Brewing Opens in Former Black Project Space
- November 24, 2023 | Industrial Revolution Brewing Closes in Erie
- December 1, 2023 | Westbound & Down acquires Aspen Brewing and Capitol Creek Brewing from High Country Brewing LLC.
- December 2, 2023 | Black Bottle Brewery Closes in Fort Collins
- December 4, 2023 | Denver Beer Co. Opens Fifth taproom in Littleton
- December 13, 2023 | Living The Dream Brewing Takes Over Grist Brewing Locations
- December 13, 2023 | Ursula Brewing Announces Sale
- December 15, 2023 | Oasis Brewing Closes in Denver
- December 15, 2023 | So Many Roads Brewery Closure
- December 20, 2023 | Prost Brewing Opens Taproom and Production Facility in Northglenn
- December 29, 2023 | Crooked Stave Closes Fort Collins Location
Best New Breweries of 2023
Second Dawn Brewing
Starting the year out strong, Second Dawn Brewing immediately grabbed our attention as it was co-founded by Ross Koenigs, one of the leading architects behind New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger series and Oakspire. Located just around the corner from Stanley Marketplace, Second Dawn not only opened with a formidable initial lineup of beers, but was also thoughtfully designed to accommodate all walks of customers including wheelchair users and those with families.
Already boasting an impressive lineup of hop-driven beers we’re excited to see how this brewery can continue to evolve its lineup including its ambitious plans to feature cocktail-inspired beers featuring in-house created tinctures, blends, and infusions. Read more about Second Dawn Brewing.
Second Dawn may have kicked off the year in a big way, but Monolith, which coincidentally draws several parallels in being founded by an established brewer, opened with an impressive lineup of beers from the start, and displayed a holistic approach toward operating a brewery by also incorporating great design elements in branding and taproom experience, closed the year out strong.
As noted above, founder Stephen Monahan’s attention to detail in producing thoughtfully composed beers, his intent behind producing a diversity of beer styles offered, his focus on sustainability, the brewery’s support of neighboring businesses and breweries, their purpose-driven approach toward supporting his staff and fellow beer industry workers, and his Brew Like a Girl non-profit initiative in supporting women working toward a career in brewing all combine into the complete package.
After taking over the former Black Project space, Monolith Brewing has hit the ground running in just a month of operation and has brought a brighter, cleaner (non-sour), and more sustainable approach toward keeping that part of Broadway cranking out impressive beers.
Honorable Mention: Danico Brewing
Since we didn’t actually release a Best in Beer for 2022 (oops)… we’d be remiss not to mention another recent standout that only opened about a year ago. Danico Brewing located a stone’s throw from Denver International Airport, was opened by two former Anheuser-Busch employees who decided they were ready to break out on their own. They tapped Chris Kennedy, who previously spent time brewing for The Rare Barrel, Heretic Brewing, and New Image to lead their brewing program and his experience shows. Having opened with one of the stronger opening lineups in recent memory, Danico is already off to a tremendous start and serves as the perfect stop for travelers who might need to wet their whistle before or after flying out of DIA.
Best Brewery Expansions of 2023
Prost Brewing – Northfield
Prost Brewing has come a long way since it first opened its doors in 2012 in the Denver Highlands neighborhood. The German-style focused brewery has since expanded to four biergarten locations including outposts in Highlands Ranch, Fort Collins, and most recently a state-of-the-art flagship 60,000 sq ft production facility joined by a 10,000 sq ft taproom and Biergarten in the Northfield neighborhood.
Featuring a spacious communal dining a bierhalle space along with a sprawling wrap-around outdoor patio that feeds into an outdoor stage, the beautifully designed space is truly a show-stopper while also accommodating to all walks of drinkers. In addition to its expanded line-up of German-inspired beers, Prost Northfield also features guest taps to accommodate hoppy beer fans, house-made ready-to-drink cocktails, plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, as well as wine. Additionally, their full kitchen concept features a curated menu of traditional German fare including a sharable sausage board, spaetzle, pretzels, wings, and more.
Filling an obvious void in the Northfield neighborhood, this impressive new home base for a burgeoning Prost Brewing is sure to draw from far and near.
4 Noses Brewing – Park Hill
We’ve been keeping watch as 4 Noses Brewing has continued their ascent toward becoming one of Colorado’s next big regional breweries and it felt like the opening of their new production facility & taproom in Park Hill was the culimination of taking that next big leap.
Outfitted for growth in mind, 4 Noses’ new Denver outpost in the Park Hill neighborhood features an expansive patio, and spacious yet cozy indoor taproom which manages to align with the overall bran aesthetic while also giving beer lovers a window into the full production process.
Biggest Colorado Craft Beer News
In chronological order
Breakout Brewery of 2023
Tightknit Brewing (Greeley, CO)
The city of Greeley has already been put on the map as an oasis for exceptional beer in rural Northern Colorado over the last decade thanks in good part to the likes of WeldWerks Brewing & Wiley Roots Brewing. However, an unexpected riser has recently joined their ranks. Originally opened as Brix Brew & Tap in 2014, the Greeley-based brewery changed ownership in 2018, went through a rebranding to become Tightknit Brewing in 2022, and has since been turning heads with a consistent slew of impressive Lager releases in recent years.
Tightknight first caught our attention earning Top Marks recognition in our inaugural Märzen blind tasting for their Das Boot Oktoberfest and has since wowed us with their flagship Greeley Beer Pilsner, 1796 Pre-Prohibition Lager, and even on the Ale front, their recent release of Buddy’s Elixir, a Winter Warmer featuring cinnamon, ginger, and brown spice showcased incredible balance and depth of flavor as well.
Breweries Who Had the Biggest Year in 2023
Westbound & Down Brewing
Not only was Westbound one of the most highly decorated breweries in Colorado across the last year, notching a bronze medal for The Coloradoan in the American Cream Ale category, silver for Spirit of the West in the New Zealand IPA category, and gold for Westbound Select in the debut year for the West Coast-Style IPA category at the 2023 GABF, they also took home a silver medal for Spirit of the West in the International IPA category at the 2023 World Beer Cup.
But aside from just the accolades, Westbound also made waves in acquiring Aspen Brewing & Capitol Creek Brewery out of the Roaring Fork Valley. These moves add to an already impressive lineup of locations and guest experiences and build on the brand’s continued focus on mountain town-based brewpubs.
Breweries to Watch in 2024
Already one of the most heralded breweries in the state that still manages to fly slightly below the radar, Verboten Brewing has quietly become a major player on the national level for its barrel-aging program racking up countless awards for Grow Old With You, their Barrel-Aged Barleywine as part of a total of three medals at this past year’s World Beer Cup. The Loveland-based brewery is primed for an even bigger year because it was recently announced that they’ll be taking over the former Black Bottle Brewery spot located in Fort Collins some time in the new year.