The craft beer scene in Colorado looks a lot different today than it did in 1979 when David Hummer and a fellow CU professor left the classroom behind to fulfill every passionate homebrewer’s dream of opening a brewery. Together, the two opened Boulder Beer Company—receiving only the forty-third brewing license in the United States and the first in the state of Colorado.
According to the Brewers Association, Colorado is now home to roughly 235 craft breweries that together, are producing nearly two million barrels of beer each year. And it all started with a couple of beer nuts whose forward thinking set Colorado on an explosive craft course embraced throughout the state.
Hummer’s drive and passion were just a few of the reasons that fans of the brewery gathered together in the brewery’s pub to raise a pint in his memory. The astrophysicist and brewer passed away on January 6 at the age of 81. Friends and patrons of the pub shared stories about the Hummer, who initially began brewing Boulder Beer brews on a small farm northeast of city. In 1984, Boulder Beer found its forever home at 2880 Wilderness Place in Boulder and grew from a one-barrel brewing system to a fifty-barrel brew house that included top-of-the-line packaging equipment. The popular brewpub was added in in 1994, and through all of the growth, the quirky brewery continued to remain true to its beginnings—even after the original founders sold the brewery in 1989.
Hummer’s love of beer and entrepreneurial spirit still lives at Boulder Beer. The brewery has become somewhat of a farm brewery—spawning several success stories of former Boulder Beer brewers and employees who have gone on to open breweries of their own. Most recently, Boulder Beer has been collecting accolades and medals at industry competitions for their Shake Chocolate Porter—an American Porter with chocolate, caramel and coffee notes. Shake is part of the brewery’s line-up of six year-round beers—all seeped in themes of Boulder and the brewery’s roots.
And while the offerings of craft beer in Boulder are no longer limited to brews made in Colorado’s oldest brewery, craft beer drinkers are still loyal to the brewery that inspired a state. Hummer has been quoted for saying that starting a brewery was the most irresponsible thing that he ever did. But thanks to that “irresponsibility”, his legacy lives on as the co-founder of the oldest surviving American craft brewery, and a pioneer for brewers everywhere.
Boulder Beer did an awesome write-up on David’s passing, including some awesome historical tidbits. Check that out here.
Cheers, David. Boulder — and Colorado — thank you.
Image Credit: Boulder Beer