Brewing at altitude: The pre-prohibition history of the Colorado brewing industry, 1859-1916

by Rose, Carl Patrick, M.A., UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA, 2014, 70 pages


The first Colorado brewery, Rocky Mountain Brewing Co., opened in Denver City just months after the city was founded in 1859. By 1878 Colorado had 27 independent breweries. As Denver’s population and access to railroads grew, breweries expanded to accommodate for the larger markets. The beginning of the twentieth century was a tremulous time for Denver’s breweries as competition from the East and the rising Temperance movement threatened their livelihood. Brewers tried to control all stages of their industry by purchasing saloons and taverns. By the turn of the twentieth century breweries owned half of Denver’s taverns. Prohibition came early to Colorado in 1916 and the official, legal brewing industry had to adapt or shut down. Since 1859, brewing has exerted significant influence in shaping Denver and Colorado’s economic, social, and political history. My work will focus on the development of Colorado’s brewing industry and its connection to the larger Colorado economy, its role in the social culture of Colorado, and its impact on the political make up of Colorado from 1859 to the onset of national prohibition in 1919. It is my hope to develop this work into an examination of the history of brewing in Colorado up until today