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Udall Touts Craft Beer in Boulder

Touring Boulder’s popular Avery Brewing Company Friday, Sen. Mark Udall said Colorado’s craft beer industry is being buoyed by a favorable regulatory climate that’s leading to brewery expansions and job creation. But the Democrat added the federal government could be doing more to boost the industry.

After a sample of the brewery’s best selling India Pale Ale, Udall seized the chance to promote his long-stalled bill that would lower the federal excise tax on beer production from its current $7 a barrel to $3.50. 

“Anything we can do to get people back to work I’m for and this is an area where there’s no question that would be the result,” Udall said.

Udall said his bill would help free up more capital that could then be invested in more expansions.

“Drinking beer in moderation has enormous health benefits and when you combine that with the economic growth that occurs in our state it’s a winner across the board,” Udall said.

Even without the tax cut, breweries like Avery and the newer Upslope Brewing Company across town are experiencing record growth.

Matt Cutter took out a second mortgage on his home to start Upslope at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. He said running a brewery even in a favorable regulatory climate is still expensive, and cutting one of several taxes would be huge.

“If this small brewers tax bill went through, we would invest that money in acquiring more employees and increasing our marketing,” said Upslope owner and founder Matt Cutter. 

Upslope has expanded six times in the last three years and now has 22 part-time and full time employees.

Avery’s expansion has been even more impressive.  Its workforce has ballooned from about twenty in January of 2010 to more than seventy today.

Sales have also doubled in that time.   

“I think that the American consumer has caught up to what I like in beer and what my crew likes in beer,” said co-founder Adam Avery.

Avery says the market is now demanding more experimental beers which Avery has been brewing since it opened in 1993.

“We suffered for many years,” Avery said. “It took us nine years to make money because we were making beer that people didn’t really want to buy en masse, but now people are coming around to wanting hoppier beers and wanting more flavor in their beers.”

Avery has quickly outgrown its current facility and has plans to open a new, larger brewery in north Boulder by 2014.

Friday Adam Avery invited Sen. Udall to make a return visit then.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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