Aspen Brewing Co. cans will hit liquor store shelves Friday, as the local upstart eyes statewide growth.
The 4-year-old brewery’s blonde variety is the first to be canned, followed later this spring by the IPA, said brewery co-owner Brad Veltman. The cans will be carried in about 20 liquor stores between Aspen and Glenwood Springs.
The road to canning has been long with plenty of obstacles. When the brewery opened on St. Patrick’s Day, 2008, its beer production and taproom was housed in a building on North Mill Street near Clark’s Market. In November 2010, the brewery moved its taproom to the present location on the “restaurant row” section of Hopkins Avenue, expecting to take production to a new brewing facility at the Aspen Airport Business Center (ABC) shortly thereafter.
But the brewery had problems procuring the new tanks and other brewing equipment it had ordered from a supplier, and won a $390,000 judgment against that supplier in November. In December, the brewery finally began making beer at the ABC location, which with the new tanks can produce about triple the amount of beer the North Mill Street space could, with room to grow.
Canning, which has been a part of the business plan for years, will take up about 75 percent of the brewery’s product, Veltman said, adding that there will still be enough beer to keep local bars that carry it on draught stocked. Expect to pay about $9.50 for a six-pack, he said.
Canning has a number of advantages for the brewery, Veltman said. Being lighter and cheaper to transport than kegs, cans will make it easier for the brewery to grow its market share, he said. While the spring and summer will be focused on saturating the Roaring Fork Valley, by the fall the goal is to be in the Denver/Boulder market, he said. Selling beer on the Front Range would help smooth out dips in revenue the brewery currently experiences with the seasonal Aspen-area market, he said.
Also, every can is a traveling advertisement for the brewing company, Veltman said.
A few weeks ago, a semi-truck full of 200,000 empty cans arrived in Aspen. The rest of the canning equipment came this week.
Liquor stores have smaller mark-ups than bars, so Veltman said it’s been a learning experience dealing with the new aspect of the retail business. But in general, he said there’s enthusiasm in the market for the cans.
“It’s such a positive thing to walk into a potential new account and have people say ‘yes’ right away,” Veltman said.