Whether you call it beer or water, Coors (or more specifically, its parent MillerCoors) is among the largest brewers in the world. Sales of their beer account for nearly 30% of the United States market, which makes them the second largest beer company in America.
While they have several breweries throughout the country, the largest of these is located in Golden, Colorado. This facility is the world’s largest single site brewery and is capable of churning out 3.3 million 6 packs a day.
This area has been home to the Coors brewery since its founding by German immigrant Adolph Coors in 1873. The location was picked because of the quality of the water, which is pumped directly from aquifers underneath the factory.
During the summer, Coors offers self-guided thirty minute audio tours seven days a week. Each tour begins a with a golden ticket and a brief bus ride.
Once inside, you’re subjected to a souvenir photo booth, and handed an audio guide.
Despite its reputation for crappy beer, Coors has been at the forefront of a number of major innovations in the beer industry. In 1959 they became the first manufacturer to utilize an all aluminum can and offer incentives for recycling. In those days, they paid out one cent for every returned can. The company was also the first to develop a sterile fill process and introduce refrigerator marketing.
In addition to Coors (which locals refer to as “Banquet”), a number of other beers are produced at this facility, including variations of: Miller, Keystone, Blue Moon, Killian’s, and Redd’s Cider.
Unlike some brewery tours that take you deep into the heart of their operations, the Coors tour is a more of a curated museum experience. Like their beer, it has a more mass market appeal.
As you wander the corridors that allow you to peek into various parts of the viewing and bottling process, you eventually reach this impressive room which houses 50 kettles. Each kettle is holds 19,000 gallons each, or over 200,000 12 oz bottles.
Towards the rear of the room are a row of kettles which are reserved for speciality beers. They are 1/16th the size and used primarily to make AC Golden, a line sold exclusively in Colorado. Spoiler note: It’s not half bad.
Each day, approximately 15 trailer loads of spent grain are removed from the facility. Each of those trailers is capable of holding 52,000 lbs. All of that spent grain is shipped to local cattle growers to be used as feed.
Throughout the brewing process, ingredients are subjected to strenuous quality tests. The company claims that they perform more than 1,000 quality checks in a typical facility each day.