(Durango, CO) – (Aug. 5, 2010) – Ska Brewing Co. will be celebrating its 15th anniversary on August 28th. In the craft beer industry, that’s a major milestone. Although the industry experienced rapid growth in the early 90’s, sales slowed later in the decade and many new brewers went out of business. Now, craft beer is on the rise again and Ska is becoming known around the country by self-described “beer geeks”.
The brewery was founded in 1995 by Bill Graham and Dave Thibodeau, with Matt Vincent coming on board as a third partner a year later. Armed only with their homebrewing skills and a comic book for a business plan—literally—the three focused on making delicious beer in a variety of traditional styles. Their love of ska music and comic books turned into a theme that would define the company’s marketing and packaging, and their non-conformist style turned into a business philosophy that has found a perfect home in craft brewing. Soon, they were pushing the envelope with new beers like their Robust Reincarnation series, and engaging the homebrew community with a homebrewers Pro-Am contest in which the winner’s recipe is brewed professionally at Ska and sold locally as part of their limited edition “Local Series”. Along the way, they have supported countless sports, music and charity events in Colorado and elsewhere. “We know wouldn’t be here without the support of the craft beer community and our local community, so we do whatever we can to give back,” says Thibodeau.
In 2008, the three friends and business partners made their most audacious move yet, expanding into a purpose-built, state-of-the art brewing facility that features a two-story tasting room and an outdoor beer garden with a stage. The new facility allowed Ska to expand its distribution into new regions including Texas and Missouri, and contributed to a 54% increase in sales in 2009. In the first half of this year Ska is reporting an increase of 36% over the same period in 2009. U.S. craft brewing sales overall are up 12% for the first half of 2010.
“This anniversary is a great chance to look back on how far we’ve come”, notes Graham. “In the beginning, all we really wanted to do was brew great beer, but we’ve been lucky to have awesome employees, loyal customers who know good beer when they taste it, and we’ve made a few good decisions along the way, too.” Certainly one of those was the decision to become the second craft brewer in the nation to can its beers, after Colorado’s Oskar Blues Brewing Co. “Canning has been huge, and the whole industry is really looking at it now because it’s an excellent way to package craft beer, it’s better for the environment, and it allows people to take good beer with them on all kinds of trips,” says Graham.
So what does a Colorado craft brewer like Ska do to celebrate a major milestone? Throw the biggest party they can, of course. The “Ska 15th Anniversary Bash and Brewer’s Invitational” will feature special beers from 15 breweries, and three bands including local Durango favorites Farmington Hill, as well as The Supersuckers—a band that calls themselves “The Greatest Rock And Roll Band In The World” (and Ska concurs). The party will be held at Ska Brewing’s World Headquarters in Durango on Saturday, August 28th from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. Advance tickets are required and can be purchased locally or online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/119019. The event is produced for adults. For more details call Ska Brewing at 970-247-5792.
“We’re really throwing a party to say ‘thank you’”, says Thibodeau. “Not a day goes by that we don’t stop and think about how lucky we are to live in Durango and brew beer for a living. We’re grateful, and we want to say thanks. Our 15th anniversary gives us a great excuse to do that.”
About Ska Brewing
Based in Durango, Colorado, Ska Brewing was founded in 1995 and now produces over a dozen award-winning beers including the Pinstripe Red Ale, True Blonde Ale and Steel Toe Stout. Three Ska beers are now widely available in cans: ESB Special Ale, True Blonde, and Modus Hoperandi India Pale Ale. For more information and a good time, visit www.skabrewing.com.