On March 16, Gov. Jared Polis forced bars and restaurants to close to the general public for 30 days while allowing them to provide food delivery and takeout. That same day, Mayor Michael Hancock closed Denver bars and restaurants for eight weeks. But living in Colorado amidst a bar and restaurant shutdown doesn’t mean living without your favorite craft beer, wine or spirit.
Here’s how residents can stock their fridges while simultaneously supporting local businesses.
Booze to go
Beer, wine and spirits manufacturers that are permitted to sell their products to-go may continue to do so, according to the state’s Liquor Enforcement Division, inspiring many to offer advance ordering and curbside pickup akin to their culinary counterparts.
And it’s a good thing they can, said Gavin Estes, director of operations for New Image Brewing Co. in Arvada.
“Honestly, we’d go out of business (if we couldn’t sell beer),” Estes said.
Though New Image has scaled back production to meet the needs of the service industry’s new normal, it’s packaging the majority of its beer into cans instead of kegs for easy takeaway.
It’s not alone. Ratio Beerworks in Denver, Bent Barley Brewing Co. in Aurora and Wibby Brewing in Longmont are just a few of the craft breweries now operating under “to-go” hours when customers can come curbside to pick up six-packs, crowlers or growlers of beer. Porch Drinking has the details on more than 200 breweries offering pickup; check with your local haunt to confirm their hours and offerings.
Most breweries ask customers to order in advance, either by phone or online, so it will be ready when they arrive. Drinkers must present a valid ID and no samples or tasters are offered while onsite.
Wineries and wine bars are also getting in on the action. Bigsby’s Folly in Denver’s RiNo district is offering growler fills at a 50% discount, alongside its menu of food. RiNo’s Noble Riot recently resurfaced as a takeout fried chicken joint selling buckets of chicken, alongside meat and cheese boards, a burger and, of course, bottles of wine. You can even throw in a single roll of toilet paper ($4) if you’re running low.
Keep in mind many liquor stores remain open as one of the essential services, alongside grocery stores and marijuana dispensaries.
If your favorite local brewery doesn’t offer beer in cans, consider calling Craft Alley in Denver. The retail bottle shop, which specializes in filling crowlers of Colorado craft beer, is ramping up delivery throughout the region and kicking an extra 10% of proceeds to the breweries.
The delivery area spans Parker to Broomfield and includes Denver’s surrounding suburbs, said co-owner Bryce Forester. The selection is almost as wide, with more than 60 breweries to choose from, plus a small selection of wine and spirits.
Craft Alley is open for those who want to order ahead and pickup at its location in Platt Park. One caveat: You won’t be allowed inside. Instead, the shop has opened a drive-thru-style window where customers can grab their order.
“The goal all along has been to make the smaller craft breweries more accessible and make it easier to get your hands on their beer,” Forester said.
That’s also the driving force behind a new initiative from Codi Manufacturing in Golden. Starting Wednesday, the company is offering its canning services and materials for free to breweries that still have beer in fermentation tanks that’s at risk of going bad. Sales manager Andrew Ferguson said the company is usually installing its machines around the world, but much of the business has been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have spare people, spare equipment, and spare trucks,” Ferguson said. Breweries interested in the service can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many alcohol delivery services, including Drizly and Minibar, are still operating as normal in Colorado, representatives for the companies confirmed to The Know — and drinkers are already putting them to good use. Drizly reports nationwide sales quadrupled the second week in March, leading to the service’s biggest day ever on March 15.