Our brewing community has already been tight-knit and generally noncompetitive, as the craft beer market knows how to do nothing other than conquer market share. But now the bonds have been formalized, via the newly formed Southern Colorado Brewers Alliance (see Facebook page).
According to SCBA president and Red Leg Brewing founder, Todd Baldwin, the alliance has been created to "market, develop and advocate" for breweries in El Paso, Teller and Pueblo counties.
"So many breweries are popping up that many people still don't know who's who," he says, noting a spring fundraising event that should help pay for area brewery maps to be distributed for free at tourist stops, restaurants and hotels. But beyond the PR outreach, he says SCBA wants to ensure that "our elected officials know the economic value of breweries in our community — not just as sales tax generators, and through creating jobs, but our philanthropy, and how much we give back to nonprofits. ... As we talk about supporting small businesses and changing the culture of our city, we feel breweries are a good place to start."
As for exactly what that economic impact is locally, Baldwin says the Small Business Development Center should report back soon with speculations. The number likely won't be insignificant considering that Brewers Association research showed that in 2014, Colorado craft breweries generated $2.7 billion of economic impact.
In fairness, that's combined numbers from around 300 breweries, and SCBA counts only 19 breweries currently — roughly two-thirds of the total outfits in this tri-county area, as we count it. Neither of Pueblo's three breweries are yet members and two of the Springs founding breweries, Bristol and Phantom Canyon, also didn't join. Yet-to-open Cogstone Brewing Co. is participating, as is Rock Bottom (a corporate entity with a local brewing face) and surprisingly, Trinity Brewing Company (given all of its #fastfoodnation bantering).
As for any question of overlap with the mission of the Boulder-based Colorado Brewers Guild, Baldwin says that larger nonprofit trade association advocates more on a state government level for those strong 300, while SCBA will aim to meet directly with our City Council and county commissioners. Aside from creating awareness, he says SCBA will hope to help shape legislation that's friendly to launching breweries and supporting their growth.
Honor your own
Help the American Culinary Federation Pikes Peak Chapter (pikespeakchefs.com) honor its members with its annual awards dinner, Sunday, Jan. 31, at 5 p.m. at The Warehouse (25 W. Cimarron St.). A four-course meal will cost $36 (tax and tip included).
"We have to build the network of chefs to create a culinary culture that enables us to make Colorado Springs a food destination," says member-chef from Colorado Springs School District 11 Nate Dirnberger.