The year was 2014, and the manic frenzy of traditional Black Friday sales was beginning to face some backlash. Not only were big box stores losing in-person customers to Amazon and other online retailers, but small businesses also were fighting back with Small Business Saturday. And then there was the consumer anger about sales creeping into Thanksgiving Day itself.
For beer geeks, though, Black Friday still meant one thing: driving from liquor store to liquor store trying to score bottles of Goose Island Beer Co.’s Bourbon County Stout. In Colorado, most stores had bottle limits on what was considered to be the finest barrel-aged beers in the nation. Some stores sold out before most customers could even get in line.
Since Chicago-born Goose Island had been bought three years earlier by the Anheuser Busch InBev conglomerate, though, many craft breweries and craft beer fans were looking for local alternatives — something that year-old Station 26 Brewing was happy to supply.
In November 2014, Station 26 released its Dark Star Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout on the day after Thanksgiving, and a tradition was born. Since then, craft breweries around the state have begun releasing some of their best and biggest stouts and barrel-aged stouts on Black Friday as a way to fight back against Big Beer and to challenge the intensity of this “shopping holiday.”
This year, more than two dozen breweries on the Front Range will participate in Black Friday beer releases, including Fiction Beer and River North Brewery in Denver, Resolute Brewing in Centennial, Mythmaker Brewing in Fort Collins and WestFax Brewing in Lakewood.
“We’ve always embraced Black Friday as an escape from the hustle and bustle of big-box-store shopping craziness,” said WestFax founder Anthony Martuscello. “I’d much rather spend Friday drinking delicious beer than fighting for a new TV, and I think a lot of people think the same way we do.
“It’s also the unofficial start of the winter season, which is the perfect time to release some dark beers and big stouts.” he added. “It’s a fun day for craft beer enthusiasts to travel around to all the special releases and support their local brewery.”
Here are some of this year’s notable Black Friday releases.
River North Brewery
“Dream a little dream this holiday season,” River North Brewery said with the 2022 version of Whiskey Barrel Aged Mr. Sandman. The beer maker’s flagship imperial stout was aged in two different Colorado single malt barrels and one Colorado bourbon barrel. It weighs in at 12.6% ABV and will be available on tap and in bottles to go in both brewery taprooms.
3400 Blake St. and 6021Washington St., Denver; rivernorthbrewery.com
Station 26 Brewing
This year, Station 26 will focus on its Russian imperial stout, releasing four different variations during its annual holiday market: Mexican Chocolate, Turkish Coffee, Creme Brûlée and Spumoni. The market itself runs from 1 to 5 p.m. with various vendors.
7045 38th Ave., Denver; station26brewing.co
Fiction Beer Co.
A Series of Fortunate Stouts returns to Fiction Beer Co., which will have 10 stouts on tap, including Chai Espresso Stout, Eggnog Coffee Stout, Salted Coconut Caramel Stout, S’more Stout, Feely Effects Green Tea Milk Stout and more. All stouts will be available in flights as well.
7101 E. Colfax Ave., Denver; fictionbeer.com
The owners of Baere Brewing have seen the mad rush for certain stouts in recent years and they’re here to tell you that you won’t have to wait in line to score No Line Imperial Stout, brewed with cacao nibs and toasted coconut. Baere will also have Chocolate Black Ryeday Imperial Stout, made with cacao nibs, caraway seed and fennel seed.
320 Broadway, Denver; baerebrewing.com
Long Table Brewhouse
Long Table has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine over the past year, and has held several fundraising events to help the country and its residents. The latest is Ukrainian Imperial Stout, brewed with a recipe provided by a Ukrainian brewery. Long Table is also aging some in two Laws Whiskey barrels for later. Proceeds will help supply people there with winter clothes.
2895 Fairfax St., Denver; lngtbl.com
Copper Kettle Brewing
Copper Kettle brews and releases the different beers from its Snowed In Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout series throughout the year. But on Black Friday, the brewery sells gift boxes with 19.2-ounce cans of all six flavors: mocha, maple, vanilla, cherry and coconut. Each beer is aged for at least six months in bourbon barrels before being dosed with the flavorings.
1338 S. Valentia St., Denver; copperkettledenver.com
WestFax opens early on Black Friday, at 11 a.m., which is good because the brewery has a slew of new beers to unveil, notably its Vanilla Cherry Almond Beta Wave Imperial Stout, a 12.6% ABV beer aged 22 months in Laws Wheat Whiskey barrels and infused with vanilla, cherries and roasted almonds. You’ll also find Peppermint Bark Pastry Stout and the Elvis Sandwich Stout, which has flavors of peanut butter, banana and bacon, like the King’s favorite sandwich.
6733 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood; westfaxbrewingcompany.com
“Forget the Furbys and Tickle Me Elmos. Everyone knows Black Friday in Colorado is all about the delicious dark beer releases.” That’s the word from Resolute Brewing, which will offer an oatmeal stout called Beneath Ancient Sand. It has notes of chocolate-covered espresso beans, extra fudgy brownies and nutty raisin bread. Doors open at 11 a.m.
7286 S. Yosemite St., Centennial; resolutebrewing.com
Boulder’s Uhl’s Brewing will have a whopping eight barrel-aged stouts on draft and in bottles, including three single-barrel variants of its Deep Dark Depths. Some of the other beers in store for Black Friday beer lovers include Chocolate & Vanilla Barrel’d Treat, an imperial stout aged in Buffalo Trace barrels with vanilla beans and cacao nibs, and other versions of that beer.
5460 Conestoga Court, Boulder; uhlsbrewing.com
Liquid Mechanics Brewing
A longtime brewer of great barrel-aged brews, Liquid Mechanics brings back its Xmas Anarchy Project Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. This one was infused with ginger, orange zest and cinnamon to give it a holiday feel. It will be on tap and in 22-ounce bottles to go.
297 US-287, Lafayette; liquidmechanicsbrewing.com
Westbound & Down Brewing
Westbound taps its only kegs of Beyond Description Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. This 13.5% ABV beer is a blend of two other barrel-aged beers that was finished with coconut, pecan, hazelnut and vanilla. The brewery will also sell the last of its bottles of Opulence 2022, another blend.
Three locations in Denver, Lafayette and Idaho Springs
Newly opened in Fort Collins, Mythmaker’s first canned beer release is a big one. Nemeton Imperial Stout was aged in Old Elk Wheated Bourbon barrels for several months and comes in at 9.3% ABV. No adjunct flavors or extracts were used.
1035 S. Taft Hill Road, Fort Collins; mythmakerbrewing.com
Wiley Roots Brewing
Named for its brewery cat, Wiley Roots’ Midnight on the Run Imperial Stout series gets attention every year for its deeply rich flavors. This Black Friday, Wiley releases four different versions of Midnight on the Run. The base version has cacao nibs, cocoa powder and liquid cacao, but there is also a barrel-aged offering and versions with coconut and Mexican spices.
625 Third St. D, Greeley; wileyroots.com
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