The beer gods were smiling on the Aspen Brewery Monday after a good Samaritan returned the establishment’s hand-carved wooden sign, which was stolen Memorial Day weekend.
Brewery co-owner Duncan Clauss said Monday evening that an unidentified person returned the 4-foot-long by 3-foot-tall sign, estimated to weigh about 40 pounds, earlier in the day to Brad Veltman, another owner.
The unidentified man told Veltman that he stumbled upon the sign and knew it was in a place it shouldn’t have been, so he brought it back to its original resting place, Clauss said.
“We still don’t know who did it but were psyched [to have it back],” he said, adding that when he and his business partners made the plea for the sign to be returned, they said no questions would be asked.
The Samaritan will receive free beer for his good deed, Clauss said.
The sign was stolen May 28 and it appeared that quite a bit of effort had gone into stealing it. It was screwed into the concrete above the door of the Aspen brewery when the staff went home at about 10 p.m. Friday. When Veltman arrived at work Saturday morning about 9 a.m., it was gone, with one of the lights near it broken and concrete debris on the ground from the sign being ripped out of its foundation.
The sign is valued at $500, according to the police report the brewery owners filed, but it also had sentimental value. A friend spent a week hand-carving the sign, which had only been in place for about six months at the time of the theft, and it was the brewery’s first business sign.
Brewery owners and the Aspen Police Department suspected that the theft may have been a high school prank since classes for seniors ended that Friday.
Similar heists have occurred around Aspen over the years, including a statue of three monkeys in a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” pose that was stolen from outside of the Royal Street Fine Art gallery last year. Valued at about $9,000, the bronze statue was returned to the gallery the morning after it went missing by the thief who initially tried to claim he had found it. The 200-pound, 8-foot-long pickle that’s the symbol of Johnny McGuire’s Deli was ripped off and ended up on the roof of Aspen High School in 2002. Other notable thefts over the years include the pig over the Woody Creek Tavern’s front door, the old Cooking School of Aspen’s “Fat Boy” chef statue, a stuffed animal head from the Caribou Club, and a pair of red high-heeled shoes that were part of an exhibit at Aspen Highlands.