As 2014 comes to a close, we’re once again asking leading figures on the Colorado beer scene to reflect on the past year and look ahead to next. This next installment in our 4th annual Beer In Review features Branden Miller, one of the owners of Black Shirt Brewing in Denver’s River North neighborhood. The brewery that riffs off a single red ale recipe just received three more fermentation tanks that will increase its capacity by almost 40 percent, meaning more BSB microphone tap handles at beer bars and restaurants around town, along with new beers and collaborations in store for 2015. Here are Branden’s answers:
Favorite beer of the year: While vacationing in San Diego, I frequented the revered Toronado and was turned on to Prairie’s Funky Gold Mosaic on tap, a game changer for me. The balance of fruity, juicy aromatics and bright, beautiful acidity were just perfect.
Colorado brewery of the year: I’d love to toot our own horn, as we’ve grown so much and introduced our beer to so many new faces, but I’ve also loved watching our friends at Elevation Beer Co. do well, Upslope continues to grow at a rapid pace and TRVE Brewing is getting metalheads drinking sour beer!
New Colorado brewery of the year: I’d say Former Future Brewing has been a breath of fresh air for me. My visits there have been relaxed, interesting, and filled with great beer. Plus, Sarah and James are sweethearts!
Colorado brewery to watch in 2015: Avery Brewing’s new facility has me pretty excited. They have long made some of the most interesting and well-executed beers in the country, now they’ll have a setting to match.
Most notable craft beer news or trend of 2014: I’ve been fascinated with the rise of rustic beers, traditionally enjoyed only by those who either grew up with them or by seasoned beer geeks, finding their way into the commonplace. What so many people were viewing as a “trend” last year is showing itself to be the future of beer in America. I find people like Troy Casey, Jay Goodwin and Shaun Hill at the forefront of the movement but there are so many talented, ambitious and curious brewers right there shaping the scene. It’s a great time to be a beer drinker in this country, and it’s only getting better.
Craft beer trend to watch for in 2015: As excited as I am about the variety of beers available and by so many people chasing their dream of opening a brewery, I am equally pessimistic of the trend and think we’ll start to see brewery closings become a reality. What’s interesting is that owning a brewery is so much more than brewing great beer, and I think a huge portion of new owners are naive to that. I could be wrong, but I see a lot of people with talent that don’t know the first thing about cash flow, and I also see a lot of dollar signs in people’s eyes that don’t have any passion for the craft, so I’d be surprised if used equipment isn’t on the rise by year’s end.