“Another new and extensive manufactory is about to be added to the number already in Golden. Messrs. J. Scheuler and Adolph Coors, of Denver, have purchased the old tannery property of C.C. Welch and John Pipe and will convert it into a brewery,” the Colorado Transcript published on Nov. 12, 1873.
“They purpose making large additions to the building, making it one of the most extensive works of the kind in the Territory, completing it about the first of February,” the article continues. “We welcome these energetic gentlemen among us, and trust they will be as successful as they anticipate.”
With the benefit of hindsight, “successful” is an understatement.
“Iconic” would be a better word.
Over the last 150 years, the Coors Brewery and its beer have become a staple of American food and beverage culture. The logo is instantly recognizable, even to non-beer drinkers, and Golden is known worldwide as “the home of Coors.”
So, when the time came to celebrate the brewery’s 150th anniversary, the Coors and Golden communities made sure it’d be a street party to remember.
On Sept. 30, thousands of Molson Coors employees, family members, friends and other supporters packed two blocks of Washington Avenue and Parfet Park for the sesquicentennial celebration. Everyone enjoyed a day of music, games, crafts, food and — of course — Coors beer.
Hundreds of people donned Coors shirts and hats for the occasion. Some items were a generation or two old, while others had new merchandise for the 150th anniversary.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Peter H. Coors and other Coors family members addressed a crowd of people gathered around the stage at Washington Avenue and 12th Street, and hundreds of people held their beers aloft as the group officially toasted the brewery’s anniversary.
The Coors family members thanked the 2,200 Colorado-based employees, along with the company’s distributors, suppliers, retailers, other business partners, and — of course — consumers.
“We wouldn’t be here without you,” said Peter H. Coors, the former chairman of Molson Coors and current board member. “… And we’re going to be here for a while.”
PJ Coors described how “the brewery wouldn’t be what it is without the City of Golden, and the city wouldn’t be what it is without the brewery.” He noted the company’s impact on the Golden Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, its recent $150,000 donations to local nonprofits, and Golden’s new “selfie spot” at the brewery mural that’s visible from Ford Street.
Considering that Colorado has to wait three more years for its sesquicentennial, Polis noted that the Coors Brewery is older than the State of Colorado. He believed the two had parallel stories of growth and perseverance, and was excited to see so many Coloradans celebrating a homegrown company that’s now a national staple.
“Happy Birthday, Coors!” he said, as he and hundreds of others raised their beers in celebration.
Generations of hoppy memories
While the event was undoubtedly a celebration of the people who made the Coors brewery, beer and brand what they are today, the Sept. 30 event was also a chance to celebrate how Coors has impacted Goldenites and Coloradans.
Whether it was a livelihood, a fun day out, or the taste of a job well done, attendees shared the tangible and personal impact Coors has had on their lives.
Former Goldenites Molly Goble and Preston Morse went on a Coors brewery tour as one of their first dates, and later served Coors at their wedding reception at The Buffalo Rose.
Morse, whose family members have been loyal Coors drinkers for generations, lived in The Gold Apartments and had several neighbors who worked at the brewery. In the summer, he and his friends would spend their days tubing along Clear Creek and drinking Coors afterward.
Goble, who grew up in Golden, appreciated seeing so many people come out for the Sept. 30 celebration. She and Morse now live in Lone Tree but enjoyed the opportunity to visit Golden, see old friends, and celebrate a brand that’s meant so much to them.
Kelly Foulke, who recently moved back to Golden, felt similarly. Her husband, Tom, worked for Coors in the 1980s and ’90s. Despite working in information technology, she said, he had a very refined palate and was very good at taste-testing new beers.
The two lived in Golden for about 15 years, Foulke said, and she ended up taking the brewery tour about five times when friends or family members were visiting.
Even after the couple moved away, Foulke said she and her husband remained loyal to Coors and continued collecting “a room full” of merchandise. Tom died about two years ago, and Foulke said she moved back to Golden, in part, because of all the positive memories she had here.
She applauded Coors for all the work it’s done in the community since its founding, adding of the Sept. 30 event, “It’s wonderful they’re putting this on.”
Wheat Ridge’s Lenny Ortiz, a second-generation Coors employee, recalled attending the brewery’s 120th anniversary celebration with his dad in 1993.
His dad, John, started in 1968 and worked there for 46 years. Among his roles, Ortiz said that his dad was involved in the Hispanic boycotts, serving as an ambassador between Coors and the Hispanic community.
Ortiz, who’s now retired, worked for 13 years in the container plant, where he helped take the product off the line, load the trailers, and other supply-chain-related tasks.
In addition to working there, Ortiz is also a Coors memorabilia collector. He said he started when he was 8 years old, and his father would bring items home from work. Now, he has thousands of items in his collection, the oldest of which is from the 1880s, he estimated.
Ortiz was proud to be a legacy employee, describing how working at Coors has afforded a good livelihood for at least two generations of his family.
“I love Coors,” Ortiz said. “I’m happy to be here and celebrate this (event). I hope I’m around in 25 years for the next one.”