Business is hopping for area craft breweries.
There are about two dozen active craft breweries in Colorado Springs, according to Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association.
“There are 402 active brewery licenses in Colorado — not counting 3.2 percent [alcohol] duplicates — and 25 active in Colorado Springs,” he said in an email.
Smiling Toad head brewer Fred Davis says he stopped counting the local breweries this past year.
“Still, there is almost a community feel among all of us breweries,” he said. “We all seem to get along and help each other out when we need a hose or something.”
Collectively, craft brewers have about a $70 billion economic impact on the U.S., Watson said.
“Locally, this will depend on the size of the brewery and their business model, but they can move into spaces that are zoned industrial, re-vitalizing areas that have been hit by de-industrialization and even bringing new foot traffic, depending on the business model,” he said. “Breweries bring in tourism and often look to partner with other local businesses, such as coffee roasters, as one example.”
A nationally representative survey conducted with Nielsen in 2017 found nearly half of craft beer drinkers are willing to visit a brewery that’s more than two hours away from their house.
“Craft drinkers averaged 3.5 local brewery visits a year and 2.5 while traveling,” Watson said.
Food trucks as well as local musicians have benefited from the growing number of craft breweries in the Springs.
“This is definitely a good pairing for both parties because we help attract customers for them and likewise,” said Christina Cunningham, marketing and event coordinator for Witty Pork’s and Street Treats food trucks. “With our pizza truck, we try to pair beer with the pizza and even incorporate each other’s businesses. It’s really helped us establish our customer base being able to come to the breweries.”
Terry Johnson pours in barley as Smiling Toad Brewery head brewer Fred Davis stirs the mixture that will become the business’ signature IPa Freely. The name of the brewery was meant to be original and not Colorado-themed, said head brewer Fred Davis. “Too many other breweries go that route and we didn’t want to be easily confused,” he said.
The barley used to make Smiling Toad Brewery’s craft beers is ordered from a Denver distributor and comes from all over the U.S. “Our head brewer, Fred Davis, is real good at coming up with recipes,” said Biff, the brewery’s owner.
Since opening its doors almost two months ago, Black Forest Brewery Co. has experienced an abundance of foot traffic, said owners Tara and Donovan Routsis, who already are considering expanding next door.
Black Forest Brewery Co. owner Donovan Routsis introduces a new experimental tap to customers. The Seattle native and Air Force veteran fell in love with beer while stationed in Germany. That love is apparent in the brewery’s decorations as well as its beer offerings.
Most local breweries feature food trucks on weekends and are normally scheduled months in advance because of the growing number of the portable kitchens in Colorado Springs, said Keith Altemose, owner of Nano 108. There are about 50 to 60 food trucks operating in Colorado Springs, said Christina Cunningham, Witty Pork’s marketing and event coordinator. “It’s still not that competitive because we all offer different food,” she said.
Brass Brewing Company opened its door March 22 and has seven employees with 12 beer taps, said brewery owner Wayne “Woody” Briggs. The establishment, like other local breweries, provides a stage for area musicians.