On Tap: Offseason suds at Aspen Brewing Company

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times


Aspen Brewing Co. Tap Room

304 E. Hopkins

Open noon-midnight, seven days a week

Brewery tours by appointment

After spending a recent weekend at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, it got me thinking more and more about the craft-beer culture — and our hometown brewery, Aspen Brewing Co.

Though it didn’t hold down a booth at the festival this year — hundreds of others did, including many mountain-town breweries (see High Country Hops in this week’s edition of the Aspen Times Weekly) — Aspen Brewing Co. is firmly rooted in the state’s beer world. The decision not to participate in this year’s Great American Beer Festival was a strategic one, said brewery founder and owner Duncan Clauss.

“To me, (the festival) is awesome,” he said. “But as it grows bigger and bigger, we have to weigh the impact of being part of it and the cost.

“I imagine we’ll go back another year or at least do a tap takeover. The (festival) isn’t just about the festival; Denver goes crazy for this. Colorado in general loves its craft beer.”

And Aspenites love Clauss and his brew crew, who are hard at work this offseason getting ready for the winter ahead.

“This is a big production time for us,” Clauss said recently from the company’s production facility at the Aspen Business Center. “No rest for the weary.”

Among the beers being brewed at the moment are a new imperial stout that will be released before Thanksgiving; its seasonal, award-winning Belgian Farmhouse Saison that will now be available year-round; and for the fall, the Double Conundrum Red Ale. It also is barrel-aging some beers for the Big Beers Belgians & Barleywine Festival in Vail this winter.

“That’s really a great niche: high-end craft beer,” Clauss said. “We’re looking forward to that.”

Aspen Brewing Co. also is looking forward to expanding its reach outside the state (it is about to install five new tanks that will nearly triple its production capacity) but recognizes that locals are its bread and butter.

“We’re a local company run by locals — and we love to serve locals and get the Aspen name out there,” Clauss said.