Aspen Brewing Company sells to Legacy Breweries; locals will continue to run operations |

Aspen Brewing Company sells to Legacy Breweries; locals will continue to run operations

Duncan Clauss, founder of Aspen Brewing Co. and Don Bryant, founder and CEO of Legacy Breweries. On Thursday, Legacy Breweries announced its acquisition of Aspen Brewing, which will continue to operate its downtown pub and production facility near the airport.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

An upstart company with an eye on craft breweries announced Thursday its acquisition of Aspen Brewing Co., which was founded in 2008.

Legacy Breweries, whose CEO and founder Don Bryant lives in Evergreen, has bought all of Aspen Brewing Co.’s assets and its name, as well as its downtown tavern and its production facility at the Aspen Business Center.

“A really big part of our goal is we want to maintain all of our breweries with local support,” Bryant said. “We’re not a macro-brewer, we’re not a publicly traded company. Our goal is to find local folks and support everything they do.”

Legacy also has expansion plans in the works for Aspen Brewing, including ramping up its beer production levels and opening other tap rooms in the area.

Aspen Brewing Co. founder Duncan Clauss will continue to run the local operations under Legacy Breweries, Clauss and Bryant said. During an interview at Aspen Tap, the Aspen Brewing Co.’s pub at the corner of Galena Street and Hopkins Avenue, the two declined to reveal the financial details of the transaction.

Legacy’s purchase of Aspen Brewing will give it a presence in Colorado and follows its acquisition last year of a majority of Eugene, Oregon-based Ninkasi Brewing, which, according to, shipped 90,000 barrels in 2018, making it the 35th-largest craft brewery that year in the U.S.

By contrast, Aspen Brewing produces about 4,000 to 4,500 barrels a year. Bryant said the goal is to more than double that volume to 10,000 barrels within the next two years to keep up with the growing demand from retailers, which includes City Market.

Legacy and Aspen Brewing began talks in June. Clauss said joining forces with Legacy gives Aspen Brewing added resources and the ability to stay competitive in a saturated industry. Legacy has added brew master Scott Kimball to the Aspen Brewing team, as well.

“We’ll expand our sales team and marketing team,” Clauss said, adding Aspen Brewing will “finally have support and resources and people to collaborate with in terms of sales and marketing, and we’ll continue to focus on Colorado.”

An April report generated by Boulder-based Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers, said independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels and realized 4% total growth in 2018.

When Clauss launched his business, the only other independent brewer in the Roaring Fork Valley was Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co. Now the valley has five breweries, which also includes Carbondale Beer Works and Roaring Fork Beer Co. in Carbondale, and Casey Brewing and Blending in Glenwood Springs.

“We thought if we just provide the capital and support to all the things that Duncan’s wanted to do, then this should be a great partnership,” Bryant said of Legacy’s interest in Aspen Brewing.

Bryant is the former CEO of Washington state-based Yakima Chief Hops. He said Legacy Brewing, which started two years ago, has a business model that focuses on making breweries’ tap rooms their major revenue driver.

“Our model is we’re all guys from the industry,” Bryant said. “So our thought was how can we find breweries that we can bond together and support them because of the 8,333 breweries (in the U.S.) aren’t going to be here a year from now, and so we wanted to talk with folks that really have legs and bring them all together, support them together, and take together strengths and weakness of them.”

Legacy Brewing has been using EPR Properties, a Kansas City, Missouri-based real estate investment trust, as a funding source. EPR owns amusement parks, including six Six Flags, as well as 16 ski resorts that are separately operated by Peak Resorts and Boyne Resorts.

“Over the last year have been in discussion 125 to 130 breweries,” Bryant said. “Not all of them fit our criteria, but we are in late-stage discussion with about six of those, and our goal is by the end of 2020 to have 15 breweries.”

Aspen Brewing originally operated at 557 Mill St. near the Roaring Fork River, producing its beer on site, which included a tasting room. In 2010, it began producing its beer at the ABC, while it opened a tavern on Aspen’s Restaurant Row on Hopkins Avenue, before opening at the old Peach’s Corner Café Spot in late 2017.

The brewer’s more popular offerings include This Season’s Blonde and Independence Pass Ale.

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