Boulder Beer Company Strikes Deal with Sleeping Giant to Brew and Distribute Core Beers

Nearly two months after announcing that it would cease production for distribution and retrench to a taproom-driven business model, Boulder Beer Company said today it will partner with contract brewer Sleeping Giant Brewing to continue selling beer in Colorado.

“After hearing our announcement to downsize, Sleeping Giant reached out to our owner Gina Day to discuss possibilities of a business arrangement where they would be responsible for the brewing, packaging, shipping, distribution, sales and marketing of our core brands for the retail market both on- and off-premise,” Boulder Beer director of marketing Tess McFadden told Brewbound in an email. “It’s not a contract brewing relationship, but rather a unique business model, perhaps the first of its kind, as a solution to the dynamic craft beer marketplace.”

The October announcement that 40-year-old Boulder Beer, one of the oldest craft breweries in the country, planned to cease distribution led to the conversation between Day and Sleeping Giant founder and president Matthew Osterman.

“We couldn’t be more proud to work with such an iconic brand, the first craft brewery in Colorado,” Osterman said in a press release. “Further, our new relationship will allow Sleeping Giant to better understand the distribution, sales and marketing side of the business that we are currently uninvolved in.”

Under the agreement, Sleeping Giant will brew, can, sell and ship six of Boulder Beer’s offerings in kegs and 6-packs of 12 oz. cans. Sleeping Giant has already begun production of Boulder’s Shake chocolate porter, Mojo IPA, Buffalo Gold golden ale and Hazed and Infused pale ale. Spaceman double IPA and Due East New England-style IPA will be added to the production in the near future.

Sleeping Giant will sell Boulder Beer offerings to its existing wholesalers. According to Boulder Beer’s website, the craft brewery’s Colorado wholesalers include Coors Distributing, Bristol Brewing Company, High Country Beverage, B & K Distributing, Mountain Beverage and A & L Coors.

Sleeping Giant’s facility in Denver can produce as much as 75,000 barrels annually; an expansion is in progress that will increase capacity to 175,000 barrels, according to the company’s website. The company was founded in 2015 and is the first dedicated contract brewery in the western U.S.

Boulder Beer’s production declined 44% in recent years to 16,305 last year, from a recent peak of 29,333 barrels in 2014, according to industry trade group the Brewers Association (BA).

As part of the retrenchment, Boulder Beer placed its fermentation tanks, Brite tanks, canning line and other equipment on the auction block last week. The Boulder, Colorado-based company plans to transform its production area to an event space as it focuses on its taproom business.

This post was edited on January 6 to reflect that Boulder Beer’s production peaked at 29,333 barrels in 2014, not 2015. 

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