Edible Traditions: Tapping into the Roaring Fork Valley

By Christine Benedetti | June 14, 2016
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These men are likely on a picnic with a small keg of beer. Aspen area, circa 1910-1920.

Tapping into the Roaring Fork Valley


There’s no question that Aspen liked its beer during the mining days, and there was plenty to go around. That’s thanks to Jacob Mack’s Aspen Brewery. He opened the establishment in 1885, and by 1889 it was producing 24,000 kegs each year (most of it pilsner), according to an article in the Aspen Evening Chronicle.

Not to be outdone, another agent in town, John Coll, also sold Neff Bros. Brewery beer and was happy to deliver via mail orders completed through a post office box. At the Aspen Brewery, “genial manager” Chris Sanders oversaw the business’s steady rise, deemed “one of the most massive institutions of the character that has grown up under the enterprise of the frontier,” according to the same article. By 1899, a 40-by-40-foot storage center was able to hold 13,000 kegs of beer. Above the cellar, an ice department with more than 300 tons of frozen water and snowmelt kept the product cold for thirsty miners. The hops came from New York and the barley from Denver, which at the time were labeled “superior” materials.

One hundred years later, George Stranahan and Richer McIntyre founded the Flying Dog brewpub on Aspen’s Cooper Street mall in 1990. It remained there for three years until relocating to Denver and then Maryland, where it’s based today.

In 2008, Aspen Brewing Company opened a craft -beer establishment, first in a location on north Mill Street, before moving its production to the Aspen Airport Business Center (the tasting room is on Hopkins Avenue). With ABC’s beers now available on draft and in cans around the state, no one is ever far from tapping the Roaring Fork Valley—and that’s right in line with the town’s history. Cheers!

Edible Traditions is produced by the Aspen Historical Society. For access to the full online archives, including more than 10,000 historic images, visit AspenHistory.org or call 970.925.3721.

Article from Edible Aspen at http://edibleaspen.ediblecommunities.com/drink/edible-traditions-tapping-roaring-fork-valley
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