Westsider publishes 3rd guide to ‘craft’ breweries in Colorado

       It's one thing to have a Colorado map showing how to get from one place to another; it's quite another if the map tells you where to find a good beer when you get there.

ABOVE: Mike Laur, with part of his map spread out behind him.
BELOW: The cover of the map.
Westside Pioneer photo

       That's the basic premise for Mike Laur's “Beer Drinker's Guide to Colorado.” The 26-year Westside video/multimedia specialist just published the guide's third edition (current through the end of September) including the names, locations, hours of business, growler availability and other details for 121 craft breweries (also known as microbreweries) or brewpubs around the state. It also contains roads, parklands, taverns, ski areas, beer facts and key liquor laws.
       The two-sided map, 39 by 26 ½ inches when opened completely, is available through the website - coloradobeerdrinkersguidetocolorado.com - or at 85 retail stores statewide, including 8 on the Westside. The cost is $12.95. Inside there are also coupons for free beers or paraphernalia at several of the pubs.
       A lover of beer and maps, “I'd kicked around this idea for a beer map for a long time,” Laur said this week, “but I never did anything about it. Then two years ago, I said, 'I want to get it done. If I don't, I never will.'”
       Developing such a statewide guide requires finding not just the well-known places that are making serious efforts to brew and sell quality beer and ale, but also some that are just one-man operations. As Laur pointed out, “it's one of the very few industries where you as an individual can go head-to-head against the largest breweries in the world. If you can convince retailers of the quality of your product, you could have it next to Anheuser-Busch in their coolers.”
       As for tracking all those craft brewers down, “It was just a matter of talking to folks and getting out there and finding them,” Laur recalled. “The Internet helps quite a bit, but a lot of it was old-fashioned reportage. It took a pretty sizeable amount of time.”
       Even now, putting out the guide's third edition, he can't take much for granted. Laur noted that the first edition had 103 brewers. Since then, the industry has experienced a “20 percent churn,” as he put it, with several places disappearing and even more starting up. “One of the interesting things to me is how the industry is growing and changing.”
       Monetarily, the results of the guide have been strong enough to break even, but not too much more. Laur had bad luck at the outset, because it took the State of Colorado 10 months to decide if the maps could be sold in liquor stores. “So we got behind the curve around the time the economy started to tank,” he said.
       But Laur isn't complaining. “The publishing world is not the place to get rich,” he chuckled. “You've got to love it. We've enjoyed a good response with the product, with enough people interested to keep us going.”

Westside Pioneer article