When Colorado Springs mapmaker and former photojournalist Mike Laur and his team published their first travel-friendly distillation of the Centennial State’s craft scene in 2008, it was a slightly less challenging undertaking than it is today.
That first “Drinker’s Guide to Colorado” featured around 100 destinations, which seemed pretty comprehensive at the time.
“Ten years, is that a long time or a short time? In beer world, it’s pretty quick,” Laur said. “Look where Colorado was then and where it is today. It’s phenomenal.”
Consider: The 10th edition of the guide, released this month, includes more than 675 listings of every craft beverage maker in the state — brewers, distillers, mead and wine makers. Or, at least, the ones open for business by the time Laur and his crew published. There’s also a list of 120 locations in progress.
“We said from the start, it’s a fluid business and it keeps being more fluid all the time,” said Laur, a Texas native who moved to the Springs in the 1980s and opened up a graphics and video company, Motion Pixel Lab, Inc. “It’s unbelievable how constant the change has been, not just with beer makers but wineries, meaderies. All the craft beverage makers have stepped up their game I think because beer makers did so well.”
Laur said he’s enjoyed watching the “evolution, and revolution” of the craft industry statewide and on the Front Range. In 1990, there was a single brewer, Judge Baldwin’s, in the Springs. Today, we’ve got close to three dozen, with two more — 1876 Ale Works and Lost Friend Brewing Co. — opening soon.
“A lot of the places that are going to be open, it’s people who’ve thought about it for a long time. They aren’t just opening on a whim. They planted the seed some time ago. But there are some new places that come up, and you had no idea they were going to be open,” Laur said. “For us creating the guide, it’s just a matter of trying to find out who’s still at it.”
In addition to a guide book, print map and booklet with coupons for free beer, drinks and merchandise at more than 50 locations, the 10th edition “Drinkers Guide” comes with a digital component delivering bonus deals to those who sign up. There’s also an interactive online map that’s updated to reflect changes in the craft landscape, as locations open, close, expand and relocate.
“Our mission from the start was to create something to allow people to go out and discover for themselves what they like, and try to lead them off the path a bit and direct them to places they wouldn’t have known about,” Laur said. “A lot of these places, they’re way off the beaten path and you really have to know where if you’re going to get there. That’s the fun part for us, trying to find the places that would really let people explore the nooks and crannies of Colorado.”