It was 2014 and the maniacal frenzy of traditional Black Friday sales was beginning to draw backlash. Not only did large stores lose personal customers to Amazon and other online retailers, but small businesses fought back with Small Business Saturday. And then there was consumer anger over sales creeping into the Thanksgiving Day itself.
For beer geeks, however, Black Friday still meant one thing: driving from liquor store to liquor store trying to snag bottles of Goose Island Beer Co.’s Bourbon County Stout. In Colorado, most stores had bottle restrictions on the nation’s top cask-aged beers. Some stores sold out before most customers could even queue.
Since Chicago-born Goose Island had been bought by the Anheuser Busch InBev conglomerate three years earlier, many craft breweries and craft beer fans were looking for local alternatives — something year-old Station 26 Brewing was happy to deliver.
In November 2014, Station 26 released its Dark Star Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout the day after Thanksgiving, and a tradition was born. Since then, craft breweries across the state have begun bringing out some of their best and biggest stouts and cask-aged stouts on Black Friday to fight back against Big Beer and challenge the intensity of this “shopping holiday.”
This year, more than two dozen Front Range breweries will be participating in Black Friday beer releases, including Denver’s Fiction Beer and River North Brewery, Centennial’s Resolute Brewing, Fort Collins’ Mythmaker Brewing and Lakewood’s WestFax Brewing.
“We’ve always welcomed Black Friday as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the big department store shopping frenzy,” said WestFax founder Anthony Martuscello. “I would much rather spend Friday drinking nice beers 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, the perfect time to launch some dark beers and tall stouts,” he added. “It’s a fun day for craft beer enthusiasts to travel 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,” said River North Brewery with the 2022 release of Whiskey Barrel Aged Mr. Sandman. The beermaker’s flagship Imperial Stout was matured in two different Colorado single malt casks and one Colorado bourbon cask. It weighs 12.6% ABV and will be available in both of the brewery’s taprooms on tap and in bottles to take away.
3400 Blake St and 6021 Washington St, Denver; rivernorthbrewery.com
Station 26 Brewing
This year, Station 26 is focusing on its Russian Imperial Stout, launching four different flavors during its annual Christmas market: Mexican Chocolate, Turkish Coffee, Creme Brûlée and Spumoni. The market itself takes place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. with various vendors.
7045 38th Avenue, Denver; station26brewing.co
Fiction Beer Co.
A line of Fortunate Stouts returns to Fiction Beer Co., which will offer 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 also be available in flights.
7101 E. Colfax Avenue, Denver; fictionbeer.com
The owners of Baere Brewing have witnessed the insane rush for certain stouts over the past few years and want to let you know that you don’t have to wait in line to get your hands on No Line Imperial Stout, brewed with cacao nibs and toasted coconut. Baere will also offer Chocolate Black Ryeday Imperial Stout, made with cacao nibs, caraway seeds and fennel seeds.
320Broadway, Denver; baerebrewing.com
Brewhouse with a long table
Long Table has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine over the past year and has conducted several fundraisers to help the country and its people. The latest is Ukrainian Imperial Stout, brewed according to a recipe from a Ukrainian brewery. Long Table also ages slightly in two Laws whiskey casks for later. The proceeds help to provide the people there with winter clothing.
2895 Fairfax Street, Denver; lngtbl.com
Copper Kettle Brewing
Copper Kettle brews and markets a variety of Snowed In Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout beers throughout the year. But on Black Friday, the brewery is selling gift boxes containing 19.2-ounce cans of all six flavors: Mocha, Maple, Vanilla, Cherry, and Coconut. Each beer is aged in bourbon casks for at least six months before the aromas are dosed.
1338 S. Valentia St., Denver; kupferkesseldenver.com
West Fax Brewing
WestFax opens early on Black Friday at 11am, which is good because the brewery has a slew of new beers to unveil, most notably the Vanilla Cherry Almond Beta Wave Imperial Stout, a 12.6% ABV. Beer aged 22 months in Laws Wheat Whiskey casks enriched with vanilla, cherries and toasted 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 Avenue, Lakewood; westfaxbrewingcompany.com
“Forget the Furbys and Tickle Me Elmos. Everyone knows that Black Friday in Colorado is all about the delicious new dark beer releases.” That’s the word from Resolute Brewing, which will be offering an oatmeal stout called Beneath Ancient Sand. It has notes of chocolate-covered espresso beans, extra-juicy brownies, and nutty raisin bread. Doors open at 11am
7286 S. Yosemite St., Centennial; resolutebrewing.com
Boulder’s Uhl’s Brewing will have a whopping eight cask-aged stouts on tap 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 casks with vanilla beans and cacao nibs, and other versions of this beer.
5460 Conestoga Court, Boulder; uhlsbrewing.com
Brewing Fluid Mechanics
Liquid Mechanics, a longtime brewer of great cask aged beers, is bringing back its Xmas Anarchy Project Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. This has been infused with ginger, orange peel and cinnamon to give it a holiday vibe. It will be on tap and in 22-ounce bottles to take away.
297 US-287, Lafayette; www.liquidmechanicsbrewing.com
Westbound & Down Brewing
Westbound taps his only casks of Beyond Description Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. This 13.5% ABV beer is a blend of two other cask aged beers enhanced 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
Recently opened in Fort Collins, canned Mythmaker is a big beer. Nemeton Imperial Stout was matured in Old Elk Wheated Bourbon casks for several months and has an ABV of 9.3%. No additional flavors or extracts were used.
1035 S. Taft Hill Road, Fort Collins; mythmakerbrewing.com
Wiley Roots brews
Named after their brewery cat, Wiley Roots’ Midnight on the Run Imperial Stout range commands attention every year for its deeply rich flavors. This Black Friday, Wiley is releasing four different versions of Midnight on the Run. The basic version contains cocoa nibs, cocoa powder and liquid cocoa, but there are also cask-aged offerings and versions with coconut and Mexican spices.
625 Third St. D, Greeley; wileyroots.com
Subscribe to our new food newsletter, Stuffed, to get Denver food and beverage news delivered straight to your inbox.